Court Users Call for Freedom of Choice on Enforcement
A survey carried out by the High Court Enforcement Officers Association (HCEOA) has found that nearly 99% of court users support wider access to justice and freedom of choice to choose who enforces their judgments to enable them to use a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) rather than the County Court Bailiff to recover their unpaid debts.
86% of the court users surveyed have faced significant delays when using the County Court system for debt recovery and many have given up altogether on trying to enforce their unpaid judgment debts.
Good cash flow is the lifeblood of any business and if judgment debts cannot be recovered and must be written off, there is a risk that some businesses will end up in a difficult financial situation themselves with some facing insolvency or even closure.
The results of the survey clearly demonstrate the need to open up the option to enable creditors to choose whether they instruct a County Court Bailiff or HCEO to enforce their judgment debts, which, are under £600 as HCEO’s are currently restricted from doing so under the regulations.
The survey carried out and subsequent report produced by the HCEOA drives forward the case for a change in the regulations to allow court users to choose a HCEO to recover judgment debts under £600. Currently, where a judgment debt is under £600, creditors have no choice but to use the County Court Bailiff.
The results of the survey revealed that:
- Almost 99% of court users want freedom of choice to choose between instructing either a County Court Bailiff or HCEO to enforce their judgments.
- 96% would like to see a change in the regulations to give the option of using a HCEO to recover debts under £600 instead of a County Court Bailiff.
- 97% are concerned about the backlog in the County Court with 86% having experienced delays.
- 5% consider the current system is effective and meets their needs.
- 35% would issue more proceedings for debts under £600 if they were able to choose a HCEO to enforce their judgments.
The problem could be easily solved by a minor change to the High Court and County Court Jurisdiction Order 1991, which, could enable HCEO’s to enforce judgment debts under £600. Such a change gives creditors freedom of choice and wider access to justice than is currently available.
Daron Robinson, Managing Director of Court Enforcement Services said:
“I hope the results of this survey and report are seriously considered by the Ministry of Justice to consider giving court users the freedom of choice they need to recover their judgment debts more efficiently. £600 sounds like a small sum but to many individuals and small businesses owed such sums, it can be life changing. Businesses with numerous debts of this size do not have a suitable solution for enforcement and no route to recovery and can be left facing cash flow difficulties and the risk of insolvency.”
Daron continued: “Ultimately, a judgment is a worthless piece of paper unless it can be enforced effectively. The feedback from court users here clearly demonstrates that the County Court system is not working efficiently and High Court enforcement is the obvious solution. The private sector is here, ready and waiting and well equipped to undertake this work efficiently for the benefit of all creditors.”
“Court Enforcement Services has been lobbying for this change since we established the business and I am pleased to see the campaign is supported by the Civil Court Users Association as an active member. If the current regulations are changed and such work is opened up to HCEO’s, this will help to reduce the delays being faced and allow County Court Bailiffs to clear the backlog.”
Robert Thompson, Chair of the CCUA, said: “A Civil Justice system is only effective if its judgments can be enforced. Over many years, County Court Bailiff enforcement has been poor. The recent establishment of Warrant of Control support centres was not requested by court users, delays enforcement, is a further deterioration, and effectively signals a complete lack of appetite to provide the enforcement service which has been requested and paid for. In that context, if effective and efficient enforcement is to be possible, it is clear that it must be opened up to the private sector.”
“With that in mind, the CCUA fully supports the proposals made by the HCEOA. Continued ineffective and inefficient enforcement would be contrary to the interests of court users and risks damaging the credibility of the court service.”
How to Support
The HCEOA is appealing for you to support their campaign to provide court users with wider access to justice and freedom of choice. You can support the campaign by writing to the Lord Chancellor, Rt Hon Robert Buckland MP at email@example.com
Read the Report
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