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What is The Court Enforcement Services Ltd?

12/04/2022

Creditfix > Blog > Creditfix Debt Help Blog > What is The Court Enforcement Services Ltd?

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with debt, you might become familiar with the names of debt collection agencies and enforcement agents.

‘Court Enforcement Services Ltd’ is likely to be one of those names – especially if you have unpaid county court judgments.

In this guide, we’ll take a detailed look at who the Court Enforcement Services are, the kind of work they do, your rights when dealing with their representatives, and how to handle contact with them if they call or visit you.

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Who are Court Enforcement Services Ltd?

Although the name sounds a bit like an official government department, Court Enforcement Services is actually a private company.

The company provides County Court and High Court Enforcement services. Most of the time, this means they act on behalf of creditors (companies that are owed money) to recover what they’re owed.

That’s not all they do though. They offer a range of other services – from removing trespassers and squatters from properties, through to tracing people who have moved to avoid paying debts, fines, or other money that’s owed.

Who can use Court Enforcement Services Ltd?

Since the kind of work Court Enforcement Services carry out means they often have permission from the courts to try to recover debt, this leads people to think they work directly for the courts.

This isn’t actually the case. Instead, they work for a range of people or companies, including:

  • Businesses
  • Landlords and property agents
  • Utilities companies
  • Local authorities and councils
  • Solicitors

Why would a company use Court Enforcement Services?

The type of work they do means Court Enforcement Services and other companies like them would generally only be used by a business or individual as a last resort to collect a debt.

To understand why, it’s useful to know a bit about a typical debt collection process – and where a company like Court Enforcement Services fits into this process.

1) Missed payments

If you miss a payment with a creditor, the process will usually start off quite gently. You’ll be sent a polite letter or email saying you’ve missed a payment – then given some options about how you can pay.

2) Debt collection company

If you don’t pay, after a while, the debt will be passed to a debt collection agency. The messages, letters, emails, and calls you get at this stage will usually say that you could face legal action if you don’t pay.

Although a debt letter from a debt collection agency might talk about legal action and bailiffs or sheriffs coming to your home, the agency themselves do not have the power of county court bailiffs, so although they might threaten legal action, they do not have legal powers themselves.

3) County Court Judgement (CCJ)

If you continue to ignore the debt collection agency or cannot come to a solution about the money you owe, the collection agency or the original company you owe will almost always apply to the County Court to resolve the issue.

You’ll get chance to put your side of the story across – but if not agreement is made in the County Court, the judge will issue a County Court Judgment (CCJ) ordering you to repay what’s owed.

This doesn’t mean you owe money to the court – it’s an order from the court to pay back the company or person you owe.

4) High Court Enforcement Officers

If, for any reason, you still do not or cannot pay what the court has ordered, the company you owe can instruct a company like Court Enforcement Services to recover what is owed to them.

Since this step comes after a judge has ordered you to pay the money back, ignoring a CCJ is a much more serious matter.

If it gets to this stage, the enforcement agents will apply for a High Court writ. This is a legal document that gives them permission to act on behalf of the court to take more extreme steps to recover money or items to settle your debt.

Are Court Enforcement Services debt collectors?

As you can see, a company like Court Enforcement Services fit into the debt collection process much further down the line compared to a debt collection agency.

A debt collection agency is a company or department that will help you find ways to settle the debt before legal action is taken.

On the other hand, a company like Court Enforcement Services is there to enforce a legal order – so they’re more focused on getting what’s been legally ordered, rather than trying to continue with negotiation.

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What can a Court Enforcement Services High Court Enforcement Officer do?

Although bailiffs have a lot more power than debt collection agencies, even a certificated enforcement agent will still have to stick to strict rules when it comes to debt recovery.

On their website, Court Enforcement Services claim to operate to a very high standard, explaining that they adhere to:

“…the highest standards, exceeding guidelines set by our accreditations from the Financial Conduct Authority, Credit Services Association, Collector Accreditation Initiative and our BSI ISO standards (27001 Information Security, 9001:2015 Quality Management System).”

Despite this, it’s important that you understand your rights when dealing with Court Enforcement Services and other companies like them.

Take a look at some of the most common questions and concerns about bailiffs (also called ‘Enforcement Agents’ – or ‘Sheriffs’ in Scotland) coming to your home.

Can a Court Enforcement Services bailiff turn up unannounced?

Although it’s possible in some rare cases, enforcement agents that are aiming to collect debts will generally need to let you know they’re coming.

This means they must send a ‘Notice of Enforcement’ at least 7 days before they come to your home.

What should and shouldn’t Court Enforcement Services bailiffs do?

When agents from Court Enforcement Services come to your home, they must:

  • Show you ID
  • State the reason for their visit and who they represent
  • Ask your permission to come in

Under no circumstances should they:

  • Enter your home without your permission
  • Force entry – unless they’re collecting a criminal fine, tax, or to remove goods following the breach of a controlled good agreement
  • Enter your home if the only person at home is aged 16 or under
  • Force entry on their first visit or without the correct warrant (usually a magistrates’ court warrant)
  • Enter your home if the only person at home is disabled
  • Visit your property between the hours of 9pm and 6am, or on public holidays
  • Enter through any means other than the door

Can Court Enforcement Services enforcement agents enter my home?

Court Enforcement agents can come into your home – but only in certain circumstances. If they try to enter when they should not, they are breaking the law.

The first time they visit, bailiffs or sheriffs can only enter if you tell them they can or if a door has been left open.

Can bailiffs from Court Enforcement Services force entry into my home?

Enforcement agents can only force their way into a property in certain circumstances.

However, depending on the type of debt you owe, they may be allowed to come back with a locksmith.

Bailiffs can enter by force under the following circumstances:

  • If they have a magistrate’s court warrant.
  • To seize goods, if the goods have been moved to a different property.
  • If they have gained peaceful entry to your home before.

Can Court Enforcement Services agents enter my house if I’m not in?

Agents from the Court Enforcement Services are not allowed to enter a home if no one is in. However, they might enter your home peacefully if someone else is there to let them in.

Even if you’re not in, a bailiff may look through the windows and list any items suitable to seize. They will then leave you a notice telling you they’ve visited.

In some circumstances, bailiffs can force entry or enter with a locksmith if you’re not there. If they’re collecting VAT debts, criminal fines, or making a repeat visit, they may be allowed to enter with no one present.

What will happen if a Court Enforcement Services agent gets into my home address?

When agents from a company like Court Enforcement Services gain entry to your home, their rights change a little and they are legally allowed to move around your home and search your items.

They will usually use an opportunity like this to look at what they could seize to be sold to help repay the debt if you can’t or won’t pay.

They will record information about valuable goods – either to take them this time, or to come back and take later if any agreement you make with the company isn’t stuck to.

What can Court Enforcement Services bailiffs take?

Bailiffs from companies like Court Enforcement Services will usually try to get you to pay rather than take your items away – but they can remove items, even during their first visit, if they think it’s the best way to recover what’s owed.

Bailiffs can take luxury items such as:

  • TVs
  • Computers
  • Gaming consoles
  • Jewellery
  • Bikes

However, bailiffs cannot take items you need for everyday life such as:

  • Clothes
  • White goods like fridges, freezers or washing machines
  • Work or study tools and equipment with a combined value of less than £1,350
  • Pets or service animals
  • Fixtures and fittings
  • Children’s toys

Can agents from Court Enforcement Services take my car?

Whether or not a bailiff can take your car depends on a few different factors.

It’s important to understand that – even if you don’t let them into your home – they can still clamp or take your car if it’s parked nearby.

However, they will not take a vehicle if:

  • You hold a blue disability badge
  • The car is leased or on finance
  • It is essential for your job, and worth no more than £1,350
  • The vehicle is your main home (a camper van or houseboat, for instance)

Under any other circumstances, bailiffs can take your car and sell it to pay off your debts.

Can bailiffs or sheriffs from Court Enforcement Services take pets?

No. Bailiffs, Sheriffs, or any other kind of enforcement officer cannot take a pet or service animal from your home.

If an enforcement officer says they will take a pet or tries to do so, they are breaking the law and you are within your rights to call 999.

What should you do if an agent from Court Enforcement Services breaks one of these rules?

Although the agents from Court Enforcement Services are coming to your home to uphold a legal order from the court, they still have to follow the strict law surrounding how they can act.

If you have any concerns about the way the agents are acting or anything they’re telling you, you’re perfectly within your rights to call the police. If you feel like you’re in danger, you can call 999.

How much do bailiffs visits add to what you owe?

Unfortunately, the costs of debt recovery action and court orders will generally fall to you – especially if you have been unwilling to talk to creditors up to this point.

This means fees similar to the following will be added to what you already owe:

Compliance Fee

When bailiffs write to you to let you know they’re coming, this will usually add a fee of £75 to what you owe.

Enforcement Fee

This is usually £235 plus 7.5% of anything you owe over £1,500.

Sale Fee

If you goods are sold to raise money to pay your debt, an additional £112 plus 7.5% of your debts over £1,500 will be charged.

How should you deal with Court Enforcement Services?

If at all possible, it’s advisable not to let your debt get to the stage where a company like Court Enforcement Services gets involved.

So, if it’s still possible, talking to the original creditor, the debt collection agency, or responding to debt letters you’ve been sent is a good idea.

However, it’s understandable if what you owe has got out of control – hundreds of thousands of people find themselves in this situation every year.

If you find yourself faced with a visit from a Court Enforcement agent, you should follow these steps:

Talk about a payment plan

The client that the agents are acting on behalf of may still consider a payment plan if it’s the most realistic way of getting what they’re owed.

The agents will want to try to collect all of the debt immediately if possible – and they’ll often talk to you about ways you could do this. This might include suggesting borrowing the money from friends or family – but they will understand that this isn’t always possible.

If you agree a payment plan, make sure it’s one you’re going to be able to stick to. Additional visits from enforcement services will just add to what you owe and risk your possessions.

Also, the agents will expect you to make your first payment there and then. They will be able to accept cash, card, and bank transfers.

Make full payment if possible

If it’s the best way forward for you, the agents at your home will be able to take full payment in cash, from a card, or by bank transfer.

If you’ve been avoiding paying because you don’t want to – or don’t think you should – rather than not being able to afford the debt, settling it now is a good way to deal with it before any additional costs are added or your possessions are taken away.

Prove what’s yours and what isn’t

Sometimes, there will be no other way of dealing with the agents other than letting them take an inventory of what’s in your house that they might be able to sell to settle what’s owed.

The bailiffs will assume that everything in your home is yours – even if you share with someone else. Therefore, it’s important that you can prove what’s yours and what isn’t.

Try not to panic if something is taken that doesn’t belong to you. Things aren’t sold immediately – the agents will tell you what the next steps will be and how to get your items back if you find a way of raising the money owed in the coming days.

Explore other debt solutions

If you’ve got a Notice of Enforcement letter, it’s important that you know it’s not too late to explore debt solutions, rather than dealing with bailiffs or sheriffs.

With a debt solution like an IVA, debt collection and court action can usually be stopped immediately, as insolvency practitioners work with you to set your arrangement up.

Debt solutions aren’t right for everyone – but if there’s an option that could work for you, it could stop any action or contact from companies like Court Enforcement Services and write off any debt that you cannot afford to pay.

Where can I get more advice on What is The Court Enforcement Services Ltd? and other debt solutions?

To discuss your options and get the support you need to deal with your debt today, contact us now on 0800 0431 431 or click the button to get started

Court Enforcement Services contact details

If you’re expecting a visit from Court Enforcement Services, you may be able to save yourself some charges by contacting them and coming to an agreement over the phone – rather than waiting for the visit.

If you’d like to get in touch with Court Enforcement Services, you can use these details:

The company also has a dedicated complaints procedure you can explore if you feel you’ve not been dealt with fairly.

If you’re not happy with the result of any complaint you make directly to the company, you can speak to either the Financial Conduct Authority or the Credit Services Association:

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

Credit Services Association (CSA)

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