Michael Jackson, Vice-chair of the High Court Enforcement Association (HCEOA), sets out how the Association is focusing on professional development to ensure High Court enforcement remains ethical and responsible.
As with any profession, High Court enforcement has undergone some radical changes over the last 20 years. The old-fashioned misconceptions of the burly bailiff are long gone, replaced by responsible, informed and well-respected enforcement professionals dedicated to helping creditors, informing debtors, and supporting government.
An integral part of this shift is the new and ongoing collaborative relationships between HCEOA, the Chartered Institute for Credit Management (CICM) and other organisations and leading bodies such as CIVEA, Centre for Social Justice and debt advice agencies. This includes the development of a new independent oversight body for enforcement, the Enforcement Conduct Board.
The output from some of these ongoing collaborations is the publication of CICM’s Professional Standards for credit, collection and enforcement professionals. A first for the profession, the new Professional Standards define the unique skills and contribution that these professionals deliver in protecting and growing business and the economy.
Representatives of the Association worked closely with CICM on the development of the Professional Standards, which will help guide qualified High Court Enforcement Officers, enforcement agents, and others in credit and collections as they grow and develop into the profession.
We have enjoyed a close working relationship with the CICM for many years and our education working group was integral to the development of several of the CICM’s enforcement qualifications to ensure all enforcement agents and High Court Enforcement Officers are appropriately qualified and are being given all the tools they need to navigate difficult situations appropriately and responsibly.
All High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs) must complete a Level 4 Diploma in High Court Enforcement in order to gain full membership to the HCEOA and apply for authorisation. However, it’s an essential requirement that all members of the HCEOA continue with their professional development once they’ve completed their initial training. This is to ensure they stay up to date with changes in legislation and the application of these, along with updates on best practice. In turn, this helps them to deal with the handling of customers and clients and dealing with enforcement process on a day-to-day basis.
As an Association we have our own code of best practice, which states that High Court Enforcement Officers must ensure that all enforcement agents and other employees engaged in the enforcement process are provided with appropriate training.
While it’s not compulsory for all HCEOs to become members of the CICM once they’ve finished their qualifications, we recognise the importance that these shared standards have in supporting professional development and giving clear training pathways for those looking to enhance their skills.
‘Ethical and responsible’ are easy words for organisations to bandy around. In order to live and breathe them, it’s important for us as High Court Enforcement Officers that we ‘walk the walk’ as well as ‘talk the talk’. We all have to continuously work at professional and personal development. Engaging proactively and comprehensively with the likes of CICM and the Enforcement Conduct Board ensures that we do just that.