Enforcement of a Judgment by an Enforcement Agent
Sheriffs have existed since the days of King Alfred in Saxontimes when their main duty was to keep the peace in counties andshires allocated to them by the King. The King often alsocommitted his castles and manors to them, they provided the castleswith ammunition and other necessaries and stocked and improved hismanors, they were also the King's farmer or bailiff and collectedhis rents and revenues.
Their duties have changed considerably over the centuries andunder the Sheriffs Act of 1887 (still in force now) their role hasbecome what it is today i.e. the enforcement of Judgments byrecovery of money and eviction of tenants and trespassers. Their name has also changed from Sheriffs to "EnforcementAgents".
They can visit residential and business premises between 6.00 amand 9.00 pm seven days a week (excluding Bank Holidays) or duringthe opening hours of a business if it is not open during thesetimes i.e nightclubs.
They can enter commercial premises through a main entrance,loading bay and can force entry through a locked door but they canno longer climb through an open window. They can visit thehome of a Director if this is the Registered Office of the companyor the home of any Partners in a Partnership but they are thenbound by the rights of entry in respect of residential premiseswhich are only through an unlocked front or back door. Theycan climb over a fence or wall to gain access to grounds of a housebut cannot force entry.
When enforcing a monetary Judgment their priority is to recoverthe debt in full but if this is not possible they will enter into ashort repayment plan acceptable to the Claimant or seizeassets. Often just the threat of seizing an asset such as aprized vehicle can produce payment from a debtor who previouslyclaims 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, jointlyowned property of a married couple, items held by Police, goods onfinance (with permission of the finance company) and luxury itemswhich they can replace with cheaper items. Tools of trade canalso be seized from a sole trader but not from a Limited Company orPartnership.
Seized goods can be sold in a variety of ways including publicauction, online auctions such as Ebay or even on site in shoppremises or at a market stall.
Although their role has changed significantly over thecenturies, they are still very powerful men (and now womentoo!). They are a popular choice for recovery of money andre-possession of land or property and we regularly use them withgood results.
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.