The UK’s two leading enforcement association trade bodies (the Civil Enforcement Association and the High Court Enforcement Officers Association) and Just, have welcomed the High Court judgment on non-entry Controlled Goods Agreements issued on Friday 8 January.
CIVEA, the HCEOA and Just have issued this joint statement which also invites the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to review the judgment and, if appropriate, provide further guidance and/or amendments to the regulations.
The Taking Control of Goods Regulations, which came into force in 2014, set out the statutory code for any enforcement agent to take control of goods via a Controlled Goods Agreement (CGA) in order to avoid those goods being removed and sold whilst payments are made under the terms of the CGA.
The regulations currently say that a visit needs to take place before goods can be taken into control, but do not specify whether this has to be a physical visit.
The judgment today gives clarity on this matter saying “an enforcement agent may enter into a controlled goods agreement within the meaning of Schedule 12 to the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 with a debtor whether or not the enforcement agent has physically entered the premises on which the goods are located.”
The concept of remote contact is not new and CIVEA and HCEOA members already use multi-channel engagement tools as part of the compliance stage without applying additional fees
Russell Hamblin-Boone, Chief Executive of CIVEA, Andrew Wilson, Chairman of the HCEOA, and Nick Georgiades, Managing Director of Just said:
“We’re pleased the courts have reached this judgment on non-entry Controlled Goods Agreements. This is good news for creditors, debtors, members of both associations and Just as it was important to bring much needed clarity in this area of enforcement. The judgment was the appropriate procedure to follow before any new and untested practices are introduced for the enforcement of court orders and warrants.”
Further to this the group commented:
“Following this judgment, we invite the MoJ to review the judgment, and, if appropriate, provide statutory guidance on the processes to be followed if re-entry is required and any fees which might be applied. Whilst we recognise that members of the associations and Just will be well placed to conduct non-entry CGA’s with appropriate caution, we would like to safeguard the process from others who may not be so diligent. The two associations and Just have offered to assist the MoJ in completing this work, should it be appropriate.
The MoJ might also provide guidance on the compliance stage of enforcement process for high court writs, so that it is not undermined by this decision responding specifically to the claim by some high court enforcement officers that they are unable to enter payment arrangements during the compliance stage, due to the wording of the command on the writ.”
The trade associations and Just believe that clarity in this area would be useful for debtors and enforcement agents as the different stages of enforcement are closely linked to specific fee scales which set out the fees that enforcement agents may charge.