Enforcement of a Judgment by an Enforcement Agent

Sheriffs have existed since the days of King Alfred in Saxon times when their main duty was to keep the peace in counties and shires allocated to them by the King.  The King often also committed his castles and manors to them, they provided the castles with ammunition and other necessaries and stocked and improved his manors, they were also the King's farmer or bailiff and collected his rents and revenues.

Their duties have changed considerably over the centuries and under the Sheriffs Act of 1887 (still in force now) their role has become what it is today i.e. the enforcement of Judgments by recovery of money and eviction of tenants and trespassers.  Their name has also changed from Sheriffs to "Enforcement Agents".

They can visit residential and business premises between 6.00 am and 9.00 pm seven days a week (excluding Bank Holidays) or during the opening hours of a business if it is not open during these times i.e nightclubs.

They can enter commercial premises through a main entrance, loading bay and can force entry through a locked door but they can no longer climb through an open window.  They can visit the home of a Director if this is the Registered Office of the company or the home of any Partners in a Partnership but they are then bound by the rights of entry in respect of residential premises which are only through an unlocked front or back door.  They can climb over a fence or wall to gain access to grounds of a house but cannot force entry. 

When enforcing a monetary Judgment their priority is to recover the debt in full but if this is not possible they will enter into a short repayment plan acceptable to the Claimant or seize assets.  Often just the threat of seizing an asset such as a prized vehicle can produce payment from a debtor who previously claims to have no money!

A variety of goods can be seized including vehicles (cars, boats, aeroplanes etc), stock and machinery, household furniture, jewellery and art, money, banknotes and cheques, bonds, shares, deeds and securities, livestock and animals, firearms, jointly owned property of a married couple, items held by Police, goods on finance (with permission of the finance company) and luxury items which they can replace with cheaper items.  Tools of trade can also be seized from a sole trader but not from a Limited Company or Partnership.

Seized goods can be sold in a variety of ways including public auction, online auctions such as Ebay or even on site in shop premises or at a market stall.

Although their role has changed significantly over the centuries, they are still very powerful men (and now women too!).  They are a popular choice for recovery of money and re-possession of land or property and we regularly use them with good results. 

Posted on: 10/10/2016

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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