Following the recent revamp in the rules relating to enforcement of judgment there are now four stages.
- Compliance stage – sending the notice of enforcement. Enforcement does not proceed if the debt is paid in full in this stage
- Enforcement stage 1 – the EA attends the debtor’s premises to take control of goods. If the debt is paid in full or via a payment arrangement, that concludes enforcement
- Enforcement stage 2 – if the debtor does not pay, or subsequently breaks a payment arrangement, then all enforcement action from the first enforcement stage to the sale or disposal stage triggers enforcement stage 2
- Sale or disposal stage – the point at which the EA removes or makes arrangements to remove controlled goods to be sold to recover the debt
If enforcement is not successful, the creditor will pay the HCEO the £75 compliance fee, which replaces the old abortive fee.
Sheriffs are now permitted to enforce seven days a week, between 06:00 and 21:00. If the debtor is a commercial entity trading outside those hours, for example a night club, then the HCEO can enforce outside the prescribed hours.
Entry is permitted via any open or unlocked door, or any usual means by which entry is gained to the premises – this could include French doors or a loading bay for example.
Sheriffs are still permitted to force entry to commercial premises.
Tools belonging to individuals for their exclusive personal use remain exempt, however, now only to the value of £1,350. Any tools above that value or owned by a company may be taken into control.
Seven clear days’ notice of a sale must now be given to the debtor, whereas previously no notice needed to be given; the goods just needed to be advertised for three clear days.
If a third party wishes to make a claim against controlled goods, he must do so in writing to the Sheriff within 7 days and also pay a sum equal to the value of the disputed goods into court.