There are many genuine reasons where a person may sell possessions (chattels) to another person where the agreement allows the seller to retain possession and usage. This may only be used by an individual who owns the chattels to be sold.

However, there are occasions where a debtor may unethically attempt to use this route to put assets out of the reach of creditors.

Bills of sale must be registered and conform to the statutory formalities of the Bills of Sales Acts of 1878 and 1882. If they do not fully confirm, then the bill may be void.

In addition, the person who buys the assets must have no notice of an unexecuted writ. If he does have knowledge, then he will not be considered a good faith purchaser for value and the assets will not be protected from seizure.

Due to the complex formalities surrounding bills of sale, at The Sheriffs Office we rarely come across these as an attempt by debtors to avoid paying creditors. And, when we do, we frequently find that the bill is void because the procedures haven’t been completed properly.

If you find your debtor is trying to hide behind a bill of sale, first of all check that is has been registered properly. If it hasn’t, it isn’t valid and the chattels can be seized. If it has, it is still worth asking your solicitor to check that it is fully compliant. 

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