The following questions were asked at the webinar we held on 23rd November 2017 on High Court enforcement for business.

If your invoices state interest is payable at 10%, can you charge this, or does this have to be Bank of England base rate plus 8%?

If there is a contract in place, this overrides the statutory amount, so you will only be able to charge either the rate stated in your contract, or the base rate stated by the Bank of England (currently 0.5%), plus 8%, but not both.

What methods do you use to track down an individual who seems to have disappeared?

At The Sheriffs Office we have a tracing service for absconded debtors. We will need as much information as possible to begin a trace such as name, last known address, telephone number, vehicle registration and date of birth. There are many different sources we use to track down a person including the following:

  • Land Registry
  • Birth, death and marriage records for England & Wales from 1984-2005
  • BT database (updated daily)
  • UK Directory Enquiries database
  • Electoral Register
  • HPI database - giving details of any financial interest, number plate changes and insurance write off information of a vehicle
  • Companies House

A trace can be undertaken swiftly and can significantly improve the chance of your case being enforceable.

We issued the claim form and particulars to the client 2 - 3 weeks before they were issued to court this month. Will this be turned away as they were not given 30 days?

No, this shouldn’t be turned away if you have fulfilled your obligations under the pre-action protocol for debt, you can find out more about what you should do in this article on the debt pre-action protocol.

Can an HCEO force entry to a private residence?

A High Court Enforcement Officer must gain peaceable entry to residential property. They may, with permission from the court, gain forcible entry to commercial premises, or in certain circumstances to a private residence.

How do you find out how much money someone has to decide "is it worth it" before starting the court process?

There are many steps you can take to find out if it is worth your while pursuing a debt. The first would be to check the Companies House website to see if the company has gone into liquidation, or if there is a petition to wind the company up.

You could also look to see if the debtor themselves is owed money, in which case you might be able to consider a third party debt order.

Can a HCEO delegate an enforcement officer from a lower court, say the county court?

No, if we have a writ, then it must be enforced by an HCEO.

We have judgment against a company and the director has moved his company back to his home address - is there anything we can do as he is working from home now?

Yes, in this case we can take control of any items that are for business, such as computers, laptops, and hardware. Where the debtor is a sole trader, you cannot remove their tools of the trade: those needed by the debtor to do their job or run their business, for example tools, books, vehicles etc. worth up to the value of £1,350. HCEOs can take control of any goods over this amount.

Having got a decree from the Scottish courts, can we appeal the instalment plan if we think it is unreasonable?

As Scottish law is different, we suggest you check this with a Scottish lawyer.

David Asker

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

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