We held our first webinar focusing on enforcement of employment tribunal awards and ACAS settlements on 26th April 2018. This is the webinar Q&A

With an employment tribunal case, what happens if it is a group claim? Who gets paid first if there are limited funds?

For group claims, everyone would be given their own award and therefore the first to instruct us on an individual level would be the first to receive payment, it is worth instructing us swiftly after you receive your award letter so that we can start the process on your behalf.

What happens if the assets seized are of higher value than the writ?

If the assets seized are worth more than the value of the writ, the items will be sold, with any leftover money after all the fees due being returned to the respondent. For example, we seize and sell a car with the value of £11,000, the debt and associated High Court Costs come to a total of £8,750, the balance of £2,250 is returned to the respondent.

What happens if the employer has moved overseas?

If the debtor has moved overseas, unfortunately the jurisdiction and legal framework under which we, the High Court Enforcement Officers work no longer applies.  You will need to seek advice and look at the legalities of progressing your claim under the country they now reside in.

If you have various addresses for the respondent, for example work, registered address and home address is notice of enforcement sent to all the addresses?

We would usually send notice of the enforcement to the official business address, this is the address registered with Companies House, you can look this information up here https://www.gov.uk/get-information-about-a-company

In an employment tribunal award where the respondent is a school or nursery, can you seize assets that are there to be used by the children?

If the respondent is a school or nursery we would attend outside of hours, and we could seize assets such as computers and equipment to satisfy the writ.

Do the rules on transferring property or assets apply to sole traders, for example an individual or sole trader transfers a high value asset such as a car into their wife’s name?

It is a criminal offence for the debtor to intentionally interfere with goods taken into control under Paragraph 68(2) of Schedule 12 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. If found guilty, the debtor will be liable for a prison sentence of up to 51 weeks, and/or a Level 4 fine (currently £2,500).

Also, any party guilty of removing, hiding or selling goods taken into control could have Contempt of Court proceedings brought against them. In an unreported case in 2012, a debtor who sold goods ordered to be returned to a creditor was sentenced to 28 days in prison. This would be a separate civil action (by the HCEO or creditor) and would not involve the Police until after conviction.

If the debtor is a business that develops an app, they may only own a PC and a desk, however their app could be worth thousands, can you take control of an app despite it not being a physical asset?

An app may be a saleable asset and the program code will have been documented as well as the executable programs stored. In order to take control of such assets, assuming that enquiries have indicated that the likely sale value would justify the costs involved, and that potential buyers were available, The Sheriffs Office HCEO would need to obtain an order from the High Court empowering him to gain access to  this data, in order to remove it on suitable media and offer it for sale, with a further order to enable him to advertise it and then to sell it by private treaty bid, assuming that buyers can be found. 

What happens if the employer cannot pay the award even after insolvency including the insolvency of the directors?

If the employer is insolvent there is not much we can do as there won’t be any assets to seize. If the company is put into administration it will be protected by a stay of execution on further enforcement action, which means in practice that you would need to seek payment from the administrator. 

David Asker

David is an authorised High Court Enforcement Officer and our Director of Corporate Governance

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