How to deal with High Court Enforcement Officers (Bailiffs/Sheriffs) attending at your office – 5 Top Tips

A number of our clients have recently had an issue with High Court Enforcement Officers attending their offices to take possession of goods to satisfy a judgment debt in circumstances where our clients have not been aware of any Court action being taken.

This understandably can be a difficult and stressful situation for staff to deal with and our five top tips for how to resolve the situation are below:

  1. Don’t allow the Enforcement Officers access to your office – if allowed into a premises they may immediately seize goods, for example computers and other office equipment, to satisfy the debt value;
  2. Verify the Court documentation giving the Enforcement Officers the authority to seize goods – they must provide you with this documentation and you should then immediately take action to verify it by phoning the Court named on the paperwork and/or contacting the creditor if they are known to you;
  3. Immediately take steps to ascertain whether the debt is owed by you – it may be that the debt is owed by a tenant or customer rather than the organisation or that the debt is disputed for some reason and you may need to request documents from the Court’s file to understand what the debt relates to and check if it’s owed;
  4. Speak to the Enforcement Officers  – you should explain what you are doing to ascertain whether the debt is owed and that you may need some time to verify the details of the Court action, potentially a couple of days, before you will be in a position to make any payment owed; and
  5. Make payment, if accepted as due, or dispute the debt as quickly as you can following the Enforcement Officers’ attendance – if the debt is owed, prompt payment will avoid a further visit from them as well as additional fees and interest and if the debt is disputed, you need to quickly take Court action to suspend or have withdrawn the Court enforcement action and apply for the judgment to be set aside.

Enforcement Officers are usually required to give 7 days’ notice before enforcement action is taken so you should ensure that you have in place robust systems for identifying these notices, which are likely to arrive by post, ensuring that they are quickly brought to the attention of the people within your organisation who are best placed to respond to them.

If you are concerned that judgments may have been entered against your organisation which you are unaware of it is possible to search the Court Register to check for any and all outstanding judgments.

For more information, please contact Nikki Bowker or Robert Edge.

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