We will be fully adhering to guidance on local Covid alert levels and enforcement from the Ministry of Justice on 21st and 23rd October 2020.
The letter received by the High Court Enforcement Officers Association highlighted the following:
Enforcement at residential property
No physical entry to residential property to enforce writs of control within Tier 2 or Tier 3 lockdown areas. Enforcement agents can attend properties but not enter them.
During the national lockdown in Wales (from 6pm on 23 October until the end of the day on 8 November 2020) no visits to residential addresses.
- No residential evictions to take place in any area in Tier 2 or Tier 3 lockdown or in Wales during the national lockdown (from 6pm on 23 October until the end of the day on 8 November 2020)
- No residential evictions to take place 11th December 2020 to 11th January 2021 throughout England and Wales
- Enforcement visits continue to be made, where payment is not made in full, we will enter controlled goods agreements and/or make arrangements to pay at Enforcement Stage 1
- Where neither payment nor an arrangement is made, we will proceed to taking control of goods
Transfer up and notices of enforcement
So that your writ will sit first in the queue ahead of any other writs received against the same debtor, we encourage you to transfer your judgments to the High Court now.
We are seeing ever increasing volumes of new instructions from clients and think it likely that the priority of writs will be an important factor, particularly with regards to commercial debtors who may have several creditors.
Working closely with the Courts our applications for writs of control are currently coming back within 48 hours.
Upon receipt of the sealed writ we are issuing Notices of Enforcement throughout all phases of lockdown.
Post lockdown enforcement
We recognise that some judgment debtors will be experiencing significant effects because of the COVID-19 situation. Our existing vulnerability processes are designed to consider the case-by-case circumstances of judgment debtors and ensure they are treated fairly. This plan reinforces and extends these processes.
Where appropriate vulnerable people or those who have been severely impacted financially by the pandemic, e.g. loss of job, Statutory Sick Pay, will be referred to debt advice agencies for additional support.
Visits will be contactless in line with Ministry of Justice and HCEOA safe working practices guidance, including observing appropriate social distancing measures and we have supplied our enforcement agents with appropriate protective equipment to use during any visits.
Removal of “persons unknown”
There are no restrictions on evictions of trespassers or protesters under a writ of possession against persons unknown, except where the address is a residential property and falls within Tier 2 and 3 in England or in Wales during the current lockdown there.
We will consider each case based on the urgency of the removal and the level of public interest involved, the likely availability of Police support and the health and safety of the enforcement agents, Police, occupants and general public.
All our enforcement agents are salaried and they have undertaken additional, mandatory industry approved training and a further refresher course designed by our award-winning Training Division prior to any recommencement of visits.
This refresher training included how to identify any vulnerabilities or changes in circumstances. HCE Group has unique training and regulated qualifications regarding vulnerability including:
- Level 2 Award (CILEx endorsed) in Understanding Mental Health
- Level 3 Certificate (RQF & CILEx endorsed) in Vulnerability & Mental Health Awareness in Relation to Enforcement Practices
- Vulnerability & Mental Health Awareness Workshop (CILEx endorsed)
- Mental Health First Aid (MHFA England training)
The newly designed training programme includes: the effective use of protective equipment and social distancing requirements, how to protect themselves and those that they encounter in the community.
Getting in touch
If you have any queries, or would like further information, please get in touch.
David is an authorised High Court Enforcement Officer and our Director of Corporate Governance