The High Court Enforcement Officers Association conducted a survey of court users recently, looking to assess how they view the options (or lack thereof) they have regarding who enforces their judgements.
Nearly 99% of court users who were surveyed said that they wanted wider access to justice via a freedom of choice that would enable them to choose High Court Enforcement Officers to enforce their judgements, as opposed to the County Court Bailiffs.
Why is this?
There are a number of reasons for this result, however when you consider that 86% of court users say they have faced significant delays when using the County Court system for unpaid debts, it’s hardly surprising.
We all know that cash flow is vital to businesses of all sizes, and so any delays in recovering money that is owed can have devastating effects, especially in the wake of a pandemic. We’re talking about insolvency and closure for businesses who are owed money, and through no fault of their own are unable to get it back.
It’s just not right.
The results of the survey show that court users want the freedom of choice.
For judgements under £600, there is currently no option to instruct High Court Enforcement companies like ours, and court users are forced to go with the County Court system.
In an ideal world, this would be sufficient. Sadly though, this isn’t an ideal world and now is surely the time to open up the conversation and to change the regulations.
Here are the survey results at a glance:
Not a lot to ask - Almost 99% of court users want freedom of choice to choose between instructing either a County Court Bailiff or HCEO to enforce their judgments.
Fast and fair enforcement - 96% would like to see a change in the regulations to give the option of using a HCEO to recover debts under £600 instead of a County Court Bailiff.
Fed up of delays - 97% are concerned about the backlog in the County Court with 86% having experienced delays.
Only a fraction are satisfied - Just 5% consider the current system is effective and meets their needs.
Some debts are simply written off - 35% would issue more proceedings for debts under £600 if they were able to choose a HCEO to enforce their judgments.
All that would be needed is a slight tweak to the High Court and County Court Jurisdiction Order 1991, which currently prevents companies like ours from enforcing debts under £600.
It doesn’t sound like a lot of money on its own, but businesses are risking their viability every single day by writing these ‘smaller’ debts off, simply because they have absolutely no freedom of choice when it comes to who enforces them.
So, what does the survey say? That it’s time for a change.