If you’re struggling with money and falling behind with payments, you’ll often find yourself dealing with debt collection agencies and high court enforcement officers.
‘Court Enforcement Services Ltd’ are a company that provides these kinds of services for creditors (people or companies who are owed money).
Since many of their duties involve dealing with debtors (people or businesses who owe money) – it’s a good idea to understand a bit about them, what they do, and what powers they have if you’re visited by Court Enforcement Services agents.
Who are Court Enforcement Services?
To understand how Court Enforcement Services work, it’s useful to understand a little bit about how creditors recover debts.
If a debt goes unpaid, a creditor will first try to recover it from you themselves. If they can’t, they’ll usually pass the debt on to a debt collection agency.
If the debt still can’t be recovered, you’ll often find yourself called to court and issued with a County Court Judgment (CCJ) – a legal order to repay what you owe.
If this CCJ still goes unpaid, the creditor can request further debt collection action. This is where companies like Court Enforcement Services come in.
Court Enforcement Services Ltd enforce unpaid County Court Judgments on behalf of creditors and the courts.
This work isn’t done by in-house court staff – instead, it’s given to private companies like Court Enforcement Services who employ enforcement agents to carry out debt recovery work.
A high court enforcement officer, like the ones employed by Court Enforcement Services, are often referred to as ‘bailiffs‘ or ‘sheriff officers’.
Why choose YourDebtExpert?
Who uses Court Enforcement Services Ltd?
Despite their name, Court Enforcement Services Ltd aren’t a part of the courts or legal system.
Instead, they’re a company that has permission from the court to collect debts from private individuals or other companies.
This means they’re often employed by a range of different clients. Those clients can include:
- Businesses that have money owed to them
- Landlords and letting agents who need to deal with problem tenants
- Local authorities who are owed council tax or fines
- Solicitors who need to serve papers or collect unpaid debts
- Utilities companies who are collecting unpaid bills
Why would High Court Enforcement Services be visiting you?
If you’ve watched reality TV programmes that follow bailiffs, you could be fooled into thinking their visits are completely unexpected.
In truth, there’s been a long legal process that leads up to any visit from county court bailiffs or any kind of certificated enforcement agent.
If high court enforcement officers are visiting you, it’s highly likely that it relates to a debt that remains unpaid.
In some other cases, it may relate to an unpaid fine, or a dispute over unpaid rent for the property you’re a tenant in.
When relating to a debt or a fine, there will have been several previous steps taken by the creditor to recover the money that you owe.
High court enforcement officers are a last resort when it comes to collecting debts.
These could be debts and fines you’ve forgotten about – or even a debt where you thought creditors didn’t have your most recent address.
However, enforcement officers will be very effective at finding where you’re currently living.
What can companies like Court Enforcement Services do when they visit?
If they come to your home or business, Enforcement Officers (like the ones employed by Court Enforcement Services) are there to see that the orders of the court are carried out.
This is done with the instruction of a ‘High Court Writ’ – an order from the court to collect debts.
This order instructs the high court enforcement officer to collect money or goods equal to the value of the outstanding debt.
This means they are equipped to take payment from you. If you cannot or will not make payment, they are also authorised to begin the process of collecting ‘goods’ (things that you own) which will later be sold at auction in an effort to settle the debt.
Do the Court Enforcement Services have to stick to any rules?
Although the idea of bailiffs coming to your home might feel worrying, you’ll be pleased to know that they have a huge number of rules that they should stick to when it comes to dealing with you.
We’ll take a look at some of those rules in detail:
A Court Enforcement Services agent is very unlikely to turn up unannounced
Except for some rare instances, an enforcement officer will not turn up without warning.
They will send an enforcement letter (known officially as a ‘Notice of Enforcement’) at least 7 days before they come to your home.
They must show you their ID
All enforcement officers working for courts have to carry official ID with them. They should show you this when they arrive.
They must explain why they’re visiting and who they represent
The enforcement agents will explain why they’re there and who they represent. This means explaining that they have a court writ and what the writ relates to.
They will ask your permission to enter your home
Enforcement agents will not simply walk into your home. They will ask permission first and only ever make ‘peaceable’ entry – i.e. through an open or unlocked door.
What is an enforcement officer not allowed to do?
Now we’ve got an idea of how a Court Enforcement Services agent should conduct themselves, it’s useful to understand what they are not allowed to do.
They should not:
- Enter your property without your permission
- Enter through a window or any other means except for a door
- Visit your home between the hours of 9pm and 6am – or on a public holiday
- Force entry to your home (unless they are collecting a criminal fine, tax, or a remove goods if a controlled goods agreement has been breached)
- Enter your home if the only person at home is a child or a disabled adult
- Force entry without the correct warrant (this is usually a magistrates’ warrant)
Protecting yourself against fraud
When you’re in debt, complicated legal processes are often taking place to recover money from you. Since these processes are complex, it gives fraudsters a chance to take advantage of any confusion or uncertainty.
According to government information, these kinds of scams have been on rise.
On this basis, Court Enforcement Services give advice about how you can be certain the enforcement agents visiting your home are legitimate.
- Checking the Certified Bailiff Register to confirm the person at your door is on the register. You can view the register at https://certificatedbailiffs.justice.gov.uk/
- Checking the person’s ID
- If you are in any doubt, contacting Court Enforcement Services by phone on 0343 504 1607 to make sure they have been instructed by the company
How we helped Paige
It was literally the best decision of my life, and it has actually changed my life, cheesy as that sounds, it has changed my life.
Paige , IVA Customer
What can a company like Court Enforcement Services take from my home?
Although they will almost always prefer for you to make a payment to settle your debt, agents can take items if they think it’s the best way to get back what’s owed.
Items they may take include:
- TVs and monitors
- Games consoles
- Laptops and tablets
- Bikes and scooters
- Fitness equipment
There are some items that bailiffs and agents cannot take. These include:
- Pets or service animals
- White goods (fridges, freezers, microwaves, etc)
- Fixtures and fittings
- Children’s toys
- Things you have for work or study (as long as the combined value is less than £1,350)
Could Court Enforcement Services take my vehicle?
Vehicles are a popular choice of item for a bailiff to take.
his is because they’re often much easier to get to than the items inside your house – and they are often one of the most valuable things you will own.
There are some instances in which a bailiff will not take your vehicle though. They include:
- If the car has a finance or lease agreement against it
- If it is essential for your job and worth no more than £1,350
- If the vehicle is your home (a campervan or caravan for example)
- If you have a blue disability badge
If none of those factors apply, then a Court Enforcement Services agent could clamp your car to disable it – then have it removed for sale.
How will Court Enforcement Services cost you?
You might think that the cost of recovering a debt related to a County Court Judgement is something that the creditor would have to pay for – but this usually isn’t the case.
When you have been unable or unwilling to pay a debt that you owe, any cost of collecting that debt will usually be your responsibility.
That means the cost of Court Enforcement Services agents’ visits, their letters, and other costs relating to handling of your goods will end up being added to your debt immediately.
These costs can be significant. In many cases, they even exceed the original debt amount.
Let’s take a look at each cost in detail:
Compliance fees usually relate to written communication sent to you before the visit. This will usually mean an additional £75 on top of what you already owe.
Bailiffs companies don’t just charge a set fee – they also charge a percentage of the amount they’re collecting if it’s over a certain amount. This fee is usually around £235 + 7.5% of anything you owe over £1,500.
If your items are taken and then sold to raise money to put towards what you owe, agents will usually charge an extra £112 + 7.5% of the debt value over £1,500.
Additional costs example
To give you an idea of how much these costs can add to your debt, it’s worth looking at an example – in this case, a £5,000 that requires goods to be removed and sold.
+ £75 compliance fees
+ £325 enforcement fees and 7.5% of amount over £1,500
+ £112 sale fees and 7.5% of the amount over £1,500
Total = £6037.00
Dealing with Court Enforcement Services
If you find yourself dealing with Court Enforcement Services, it’s a good idea to act as quickly as possible.
This could involve contacting the company directly to talk about coming to an agreement – or it could involve looking at other debt solutions.
We’ll explore each of these options in detail, so you can decide which you’d like to learn more about.
Communicating with Court Enforcement Services Ltd
If you get a debt letter from Court Enforcement Services, it’s a good idea to contact them before an agent visits your home or business.
This will often save you some money – and it means you can have a discussion without the pressure of bailiffs on your property.
If it’s too late for that and bailiffs are coming or at your home, you can still follow the same kind of negotiations.
Try to make the full payment
Ultimately, agents don’t want to take your items – they’d much prefer to wrap the whole situation up quickly with full payment of what you owe.
Therefore, if possible, see if you can make full payment.
However, you will need to think about other costs you have in the near future – as using all your money to settle this debt now could leave you short moving forward.
See if you can agree a payment plan
If you cannot make full payment immediately, you may be able to negotiate a payment plan.
This isn’t always possible as it will depend on whether the creditor agrees – but if they do, make sure it’s a plan you can stick to.
Failing to keep up with payments will only lead to more visits and more additional fees being added.
Look for proof of ownership for items in your home
If you can’t make payment or come to agree on a payment plan, the Court Enforcement Services agents will make an inventory of valuable items in or around your home.
They may arrange to take these immediately – so if there’s anything in your home that’s not yours, you’ll need to prove it.
Receipts for items in someone else’s name will prevent bailiffs taking items – but if you can’t prove it, they will assume the property is yours and remove it for sale at auction.
Looking at a debt solution
If you have some notice that agents are coming to your home, you may be able to stop any enforcement action by talking to a specialist company about a debt solution.
Debt solutions aren’t right for everyone – but if there’s one that might suit you, you may be able to take all the monthly payments you make towards debts and transform them into one manageable payment.
Many debt solutions such as an IVA need an insolvency practitioner to act on your behalf – but if you’re accepted, this means the insolvency practitioner and their team put a halt to all legal action being taken against you.
What’s more, they will communicate with all your creditors, debt collection agencies, and enforcement services on your behalf.
It’s a good idea to explore qualified debt advice from a debt solution expert if you think this could be a good option for you.
However, it’s important that you act quickly – as you’ll often only get 7 days notice that a company like Court Enforcement Services are going to come to your home or business.