As High Court Enforcement Officers we enforce various writs across England and Wales on behalf of the High Court.
We received a Writ of Control against a car dealership in London. No response was received to sending out the notice of enforcement to the Defendant. This is not unusual and once the notice had expired the case was passed to our nearest Enforcement Agent (Bailiff) to visit and attempt to take control of goods.
Our agent visited the premises late one Friday afternoon and found the company to be open and still trading. He met with a Director of the Defendant company who was aggressive and stated that they would not be paying as the debt was disputed. The Enforcement Agent advised him that a judge had awarded the case to the Claimant and that it must be paid. The Director was further advised that as there were several high value cars on site, the Agent intended to remove a couple of vehicles to cover the debt and the fees, if payment was not made.
The Director disappeared for a few minutes, returning with several individuals who were both aggressive and threatening towards the Enforcement Agent. For his own safety he had to withdraw and call the police.
Unfortunately, the Police were dealing with a major incident and had no Officers available to attend, so the Enforcement Agent had to leave.
On the Monday morning the Defendant company Director telephoned, making allegations and a complaint against the Enforcement Agent. He was sent a copy of our complaint procedure by email, this explaining that his complaint must be made in writing and how we would deal with it.
No written complaint was received but the Director did email a letter of claim to all the vehicles on the site, also a series of invoices from BCA auctions, which proved that each of the vehicles belonged to another company.
Of course, we must take every allegation seriously and the video footage from the Enforcement Agent’s body worn camera was reviewed. This video footage proved, without a doubt, that the Enforcement Agent’s version of events was correct, and the complaint was total fiction.
As we then had a third-party claim under CPR 85, we were compelled to refer that claim to the Claimant to admit or dispute. We had never spoken to the Claimant before as he had submitted his case online. It turned out that the Claimant was a man in his late 70’s with terminal cancer. He had bought a vehicle from the Defendant to use in his final months and it turned out to be a complete “lemon”. The car was unroadworthy, having a faulty gearbox and engine. The Claimant questioned the validity and relationship of the company that claimed ownership of the vehicles located at the Defendant company’s site. Due to his age and illness he lacked the ability to investigate the claim and requested help.
A High Court Officer must remain impartial and has a duty to be even-handed to both creditor and the debtor so we could not help. We did, however, refer the Claimant to a local lawyer, who in turn used an ABI Investigator to investigate the claim and conduct some basic due diligence. It turned out that the third-party company that claimed ownership of the vehicles had the same Directors and address as the Defendant company, no surprise there. The good news, however, was this company had been dissolved over 12 months earlier, so the claim was rejected.
A further attempt was made to enforce the Writ and this time we sent 4 Enforcement Agents.
After 3 hours on site going backwards and forwards with the site manager the Director finally turned up. Again, he quickly became extremely aggressive, made threats (both legally and physically), and then refused to speak to the team. The team then clamped 4 cars including the Range Rover Vogue in which the Director had arrived. This got his attention and he then locked 2 Enforcement Agents in an office next to the showroom, refusing to release them. The team called the Police and a tow truck to remove the vehicles. The Director then called his “gang” down to the site to deal with the Enforcement Agents, which caused a tense situation. A further call was made to the police to update them, and this time Officers attended quickly and made 2 arrests from the gang of people. The Director still refused to pay, so the vehicles were loaded onto the truck which had arrived. At that point he decided to make an offer. He wanted to pay the original debt but no bailiff fees. Obviously, this offer was rejected so he tried for a payment arrangement and again this was rejected. Finally, the Director gave up and made a bank transfer, by which time the fees had doubled but everything was finally paid in full.
When we told the client, he was over the moon; not just at getting his money back he was so pleased to see that he had secured justice before he died. This was a difficult case, but we were happy to go that extra mile for him and obtain the justice he deserved.
Andy Coates MABI FCEAA CEO at Quality Bailiffs https://www.qualitybailiffs.co.uk/high-court-enforcement/high-court-enforcement-officer.html