The abortive fee is set out by the Ministry of Justice and the High Court Enforcement Officers Association and, under current regulations, all HCEOs are required to charge a fee of £60 (plus VAT) per address visited but only if enforcement is unsuccessful.
The most common reasons enforcement is unsuccessful are:
- The debtor has absconded and cannot be traced
- The debtor is subject to insolvency proceedings (bankruptcy/liquidation)
- The debtor has no assets of value to remove and sell
Unfortunately some creditors are unhappy to then have to pay an abortive fee. While HCEOs sympathise with this view, they do need to cover their costs of attending an address to attempt to enforce.
Whilst The Sheriffs Office has one of the highest collection rates in the country and we always put 100% effort into collecting your money, not every case gets paid in full.
At The Sheriffs Office, we charge no more than the minimum £60 fee per address unless genuine additional disbursements have been incurred (such as a locksmith or tow truck) but this is very rare.
In my view, the abortive fee is, like the court fees, something to be weighed up by the creditor when determining how likely it is their debtor will be able to pay and so assess what investment they will make in recovering the debt.
There are also steps that creditors and their solicitors can take to increase the chances of a successful enforcement [link to earlier article], thus reducing the likelihood of paying the abortive fee at all.