Series following high court enforcement officers. Sheriffs visit a mobility scooter business which owes a customer a refund, but events take an unexpected turn.
Browse content similar to Episode 3. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
If you're owed money but aren't getting paid,
it's time to call the sheriffs.
-My name is Mr Griggs. My colleague and I are enforcement agents.
-I'm here to issue a High Court writ.
I've got to do what I'm instructed to by the court.
They're enforcement agents of the High Court,
and if a court's ruled in your favour, they're on your side.
If the debtor doesn't want to pay...
You currently owe £9,461.80.
..the law says the sheriffs can get you what you're owed.
If you don't come to the door, we have to remove the vehicle off the drive.
You are allowed a week to pay in full before it gets sold at auction.
-Whether it's a small company...
-Can I speak to the person in charge, please?
..or a household name...
We're here to see somebody from G4S.
..if they owe you money, the sheriffs get it paid.
I'm not going anywhere. You get him to come in here.
We're not going to be waiting around like that. It needs to be done now.
Just collected 42 grand.
Coming up - sheriffs Lawrence and Kerr visit a shop
selling mobility scooters
who owe a customer a refund and they plan to get it whatever it takes.
The goods will be going because there is no evidence that they
belong to anybody else.
Estate agent Karen Vaughan was left on the brink of financial ruin
after a building project went wrong.
The snowball effect was catastrophic.
I was over £20,000 further in debt.
Tommy and Craig track down a man who owes her money.
But will he pay up?
Ken pays a visit to a jeweller's shop.
But can he get his hands on the gold and silver?
Sorry, can you come to the door, please?
Unfortunately, she's not letting us in.
I can't shout through the letterbox, that's ridiculous.
And in Burnley, a car yard is suffering an identity crisis.
If you're trading as East Lancs Van Sales,
you will have a Companies House number, won't you?
But will the sheriffs get paid?
This morning, enforcement agents Lawrence Griggs and Kevin McNally
are taking a trip to the seaside.
We are heading to East Wittering.
Down on the south coast.
We're going to Non Stop Mobility Ltd for a total of £1,903.
So it's a commercial premises we're going to, a shop.
The writ's in favour of a customer who bought a mobility scooter and
wasn't happy with it.
I quote, "It was not fit for purpose."
After being refused a refund,
the customer took the company to court and won by default
after it didn't enter a defence.
The sheriffs are hopeful they'll be able to get their money back.
I imagine there's going to be plenty of assets at this shop, as long as the shop's still trading.
We can fill this thing up with mobility scooters, if need be.
It shouldn't be too much of a problem, I don't think.
But...famous last words.
Famous last words, indeed,
as this job's about to throw up some surprises.
-The sheriffs head in.
Inside, they find the company director's husband, Mr McWilliam.
We've got a High Court writ against Non Stop Mobility Ltd.
-They've set it aside?
-When was this?
It's a familiar story.
Mr McWilliam claims the judgment has been overturned.
But when he starts getting out his paperwork,
a different picture emerges.
His appeal hasn't yet been heard,
so the only thing which will stop the sheriffs enforcing the writ today
is if he's been granted a stay of execution, which he thinks he has.
Have you got a copy of the order staying the writ?
Because I haven't. Obviously, if it's stayed,
then we'll leave you in peace.
But we've got no evidence, at the moment, that it is.
But unless we can see that, then we have to carry on.
The shopkeeper should have a court order confirming what he's saying,
but he can't seem to find it and it's becoming increasingly obvious
he hasn't understood the court process.
There's two separate things. There's a set-aside and there's a stay.
And each incurs its own fee. How many application forms did you send?
And what did the application ask for, a set-aside or a stay?
They won't give you a stay without a set-aside. And the fact that you've got a hearing date,
that is when your set-aside hearing is. Well, if you've only paid 150... One lot of £155...
If Mr McWilliam had got a stay of execution,
then he would have had to pay a second court fee.
It sounds like he didn't.
If you can't find the paperwork, have you got the money to pay this today?
Right, then we'll be removing goods.
The man insists he does have a stay of execution,
but his paperwork's in disarray.
No, this was the original judgment.
He's showing Lawrence various letters from the court.
This is a notice that it's been transferred to Chichester.
But none are the right one.
So we're getting there, but you hadn't even opened that.
Mr McWilliam says, because it's his wife's business,
he doesn't know where the court order is.
Are you able to give her a ring and see if she knows where she's put it?
Well, she might know where it is, sir. And with all due respect,
your paperwork seems to be a bit of a shambles.
You've got letters you haven't opened and you don't seem to be able
to find anything. It might be worth giving her a call to see if she knows where it is.
Then, amongst a pile of letters, it's Lawrence that strikes gold.
-Oh, here it is.
-It's the court order,
confirming there's a hearing in a few weeks' time.
But it's what it doesn't say that's crucial.
There's nothing there that says enforcement action is stayed in the interim.
That's because you didn't send in...
It's the smoking gun Lawrence needs.
He can now press on to try to get the claimant her money back.
It doesn't stay execution in the meantime.
So the amount outstanding is £1903.03,
which needs to be paid immediately or goods will be removed.
Is there no-one that can lend you the money?
No. Right, well, goods will be removed to clear the debt, then, sir.
Lawrence wastes no time in ordering a removal van.
All right. Can I have a Luton van?
I think it will all fit in a Luton.
The sheriffs get to work deciding which items to take.
In particular, they've got their eyes on the mobility scooters,
which are the most valuable things in the shop.
But now faced with their removal,
Mr McWilliam claims they are not the shop's.
Right, have you got paperwork to that effect?
Paperwork where you enter into a contract with people to sell goods on their behalf.
Well, then the goods will be going, because there is no evidence that they belong to anybody else.
But just when it looks like this job is only going one way,
events take a surprising turn.
Mr McWilliam has phoned the courts and is asking them to intervene on his behalf.
He appears to have found a sympathetic ear and hands the phone to Lawrence.
What I've said to the gentleman,
he's obviously applied for a set-aside because he's got the hearing date,
but he hasn't an applied for a stay in the interim.
I've got a truck on the way to remove the contents of the shop.
He should have applied for a stay, he hasn't. He hasn't got one.
So the writ is live and we're here to execute it today.
But the woman at the court wants to double-check.
She is going to go and speak to the judge.
A few minutes later, she rings back.
And it's just what Lawrence had feared.
I need a copy of that revised order e-mailing to me, please.
A judge has revised the court order
and even though he hasn't paid for it,
Mr McWilliam has now been granted a stay of execution.
As it is the sheriffs' job to carry out the court's wishes,
they have to leave empty-handed.
But later in the programme,
we'll find out what happens when they're back two months later.
If you've been ripped off and the person or company responsible refuses to
pay you back, the first step is to make a claim in the County Court.
It's simple to do this online
for a small fee, depending on the size of the claim.
The court will review the evidence, and if it finds in your favour,
the debtor will be ordered to pay up.
If they don't, then for a further £60, the High Court will grant a writ,
authorising the sheriffs to act on your behalf.
If they're successful, you get all your money back.
In the Midlands, enforcement agents Tommy Coyle and Craig Wilde are on
their way to Solihull.
They're looking to try to recover a debt resulting from a business deal
The judgment's against a Mr Alan Beale.
It's a home address, for just over £15,000.
So it's a lot of money.
The money is owed to Karen Vaughan,
an independent estate agent who also dabbles in property development.
Her involvement with Mr Beale began when she was looking for a new project
to invest her savings.
I've done a few projects.
I've bought land, I've done some refurbishments on properties.
And what I was really hoping to do is to actually do a build.
That was really the next stage, the natural progression for me.
A suitable site in Wolverhampton had come up,
perfect to build four houses.
Karen could afford to buy the land but needed help to see the project
through, so teamed up with a local builder, Alan Beale.
I was providing the finance for the project, and Alan was dealing with all the building aspects.
I'd seen some properties that had already been built with Alan.
He's a likeable person.
He seemed very knowledgeable on what he was doing, so, yeah,
I thought that we were starting a good working relationship
and it was the start of things to come, really.
Before they could buy the plot,
the pair got surveys done and plans drawn up.
But then the project started to drag
and Karen began to realise there was a problem.
Alan was quite a busy person and it would appear that he wasn't
getting back to architects,
solicitors, the vendor of the site, etc,
within the timescales that they required,
and eventually the vendor decided that he couldn't wait any longer.
The seller pulled out and sold the land to someone else.
That meant all their work so far was down the drain.
Alan started to forward to me the invoices for the work that he'd
instructed. For example, the architects,
the site investigation works, etc.
And I think it was at that point that the realisation hit that we
were somewhere in the region of 20,000 in debt.
And those bills needed paying.
So Karen paid them, all £20,000 of it.
She assumed her business partner would chip in,
but she was in for a shock.
Alan's attitude was that we had set up a limited company and the idea of
a limited company is to protect you personally from any debt,
if the company fails.
He felt that there was no legal need to have to pay that debt
and, therefore, if I wanted to pay them, that was my choice.
Karen had been counting on the income from the completion of the project
to honour other financial commitments and was now plunged into crisis.
Personally, I was devastated that I was over £20,000 further in debt
than I was to start with.
The snowball effect, financially, was catastrophic.
She missed loan payments, and her business was nearly repossessed.
So when she finally managed to persuade Mr Beale to pay back half of the money, it was a huge relief.
He drew up a loan agreement and agreed to pay an amount each month
to clear that debt. He made the first payment
and so I thought everything was great,
we were moving forward at last.
But unfortunately when the second payment was due,
there was no money forthcoming.
Despite phone calls, messages, texting and e-mails,
Alan never came forward with any further payments.
As he had broken a signed agreement,
Karen was able to pursue him through the courts.
She won a County Court judgment against Mr Beale,
and when he still didn't pay, took it to the High Court.
I've given him every opportunity to make this payment,
but he's ignored everything and I have put it in the hands of the sheriffs
and I hope that this will sort of evoke some sort of response and make him
see that this debt is not going away.
Now, Tommy and Craig are on their way to see Mr Beale,
and Craig is feeling confident.
He is a director of four limited companies.
Building companies, a log home company.
He's obviously clearly a man of means so, hopefully,
we'll go and see Mr Beale
and try and get Miss Vaughan's money for her.
At the house, there is no sign of a builder's van on the drive,
but is Mr Beale home?
KNOCK ON DOOR
Hello, my love. Sorry to disturb you. Trying to get in contact with Mr Alan Beale.
Are you his wife, are you?
-My name is Mr Wilde, I'm from the High Court.
If you can get him on the phone for me.
I'm here to execute a court order.
Yes, no problem at all.
No, not you, Tommy.
No. I'm locked out.
Craig is inside at least, so...
Get some dialogue going.
Inside, the woman tells Craig that she is Mr Beale's partner.
As he seems to live there,
the sheriffs could begin to list items to remove from the house to cover
the debt, but it would be much better if Mr Beale could pay in some other way,
so the woman manages to reach him by phone and Craig fills Tommy in
-via the window.
-He's just phoned in. He's saying he hasn't got the money.
-So we'll wait until he turns up, anyway,
cos he's only about ten or 15 minutes away.
But there's another guy called Kevin turning up as well.
Mr Beale's apparently on his way back to the house,
so it looks like the sheriffs are going to get to speak to him
face to face. After a short wait, a truck pulls up.
Here we go.
Mr Beale has arrived alone.
He tells Tommy he can't afford to pay back his debt to Karen Vaughan
and he hasn't brought any money.
He doesn't want to be filmed and goes into the house,
where Craig explains he's got a writ
from the High Court that empowers him
to remove goods to cover the debt,
and after some fraught discussions, there are some promising signs.
Craig's just come out now
and he just requested to get the card machine.
It looks like Craig has managed to negotiate at least some kind of
payment. Sure enough, before long, the sheriffs are on their way.
So, nearly 18 months after signing the loan agreement with Mr Beale,
has Karen finally got her money?
The defendant turned up. He couldn't pay.
But his partner decided to
extend the hand of gratuity to him to get it paid off.
So that's what she's done, £15,000.
There you go.
Another good day for the sheriffs.
Another good day, hopefully, for Miss Vaughan.
I have to say, I am actually surprised.
Whilst I was hoping for a good outcome, I didn't expect this.
So, thank you, sheriffs.
You've done an amazing job. I can't thank you enough.
Earlier, Lawrence and Kev visited a shop called Non Stop Mobility in East Wittering.
They'd been taken to court by a customer who'd been refused
a refund after buying a faulty scooter.
The sheriffs had to walk away empty-handed after a judge granted the shop
a last-minute stay of execution to allow an appeal to take place.
Now, two months later,
Lawrence and Kev are heading to the seaside town once again.
He's had his hearing. The case has been thrown out.
So we are on our way back here now.
And we're going to get payment.
Well, we're hoping to get payment.
But the sheriffs aren't banking on it being that simple.
Last time, the shopkeeper said he didn't have the money.
And now, with extra fees, the bill's gone up.
Best-case scenario, he's expecting us and he's got the money sitting there, waiting for us,
-but I shouldn't think so.
-One of the problems I foresee we're going to have
is the main stuff of value was the scooters he had in there,
the mobility scooters.
Considering he knows he's lost his case, they might have gone.
Going to know we're going to be back.
Lawrence and Kev march up the street and into the shop.
At first, the shop looks to be unattended,
but then Mr McWilliam emerges from the back.
-Hello again, sir.
You lost your appeal, didn't you? So now the full total is due.
We're here today to take control of goods to the value of £3,268.36.
Were you not aware you lost?
This time he asks our cameraman to leave.
He tells Lawrence he thought he'd won his case.
He gets out some paperwork from the court which he says will prove it.
But it's a move that spectacularly backfires.
He's saying he doesn't know anything about it and then produces a letter
that is an order saying that his case has been dismissed and he also
has got an extra £1,500 on top of the judgment there.
So, by producing this letter, his debt's got £1,500 added to it.
So he's not...he's not best pleased about that.
The sheriffs hadn't been told about the additional costs awarded by the
court. Now they've been added, the shop owes well over £4,500.
And Mr McWilliam isn't about to settle up.
He's saying he hasn't got any money to pay, the same as he was last time.
And to be honest, I don't doubt him. His wife's got no money. He's got no money.
So, the only thing we've got of value, really, are the scooters.
I think there's nine scooters in total.
He's saying he's signed a letter saying that his mate owns them.
But that is literally just a piece of paper.
So we've decided we're going to take these scooters because there's no
other way we're going to get paid here at all.
In fact, it's not just the scooters that will be going.
To get the claimant her money back,
they're going to have to pretty much clear out the shop.
Lawrence has begun listing the goods one by one, and Kev reckons he's
rather enjoying it.
He's got a bit of a glint in his eye looking at some of these scooters.
There's a sort of wide scooter that he's got his eye on, I think.
He's coming to that sort of age.
Don't tell him that, though.
But Lawrence shouldn't get carried away too quickly, as Mr McWilliam
has again put in a call to the local court
in a bid to stop the sheriffs in their tracks.
They've advised him to fill in some different form
that she's going to submit to the judge.
And in the meantime, the atmosphere inside the shop is heating up,
as a man has arrived with a large Alsatian dog.
It turns out he's got some sort of stake in this business,
so he's got money invested in it.
I think he's the guy that owns the scooters as well,
or claims to own the scooters.
But I think he's got actual more investment than just that.
He sort of bombed in here with his Alsatian,
telling us we're not going to do this and that, and what have you.
But it's going to take more than a large dog to put the sheriffs off,
and the man soon leaves.
Meanwhile, Mr McWilliam has heard back from his latest appeal to the
courts and this time he hasn't been so lucky.
Surprisingly enough, the judge has seen it already,
but dismissed everything.
So that avenue for him has gone now.
He's insisting he's got no way to pay and he's phoned around his friends
and everyone else to see if anyone can help.
But no-one is going to do anything.
So the entire contents of the shop are going to be removed.
There's three scooters, I think, that we've seen paperwork for,
to show us that they don't belong to this limited company.
The rest of it's going to be going and the truck is on its way.
It's obvious the business is struggling, and emptying the shop isn't ideal for anyone.
So Lawrence and Kev do make one last-ditch attempt to get the man to make some kind of payment.
But it doesn't have quite the reaction they'd hoped for.
Well, we basically said if he could get two-and-a-half grand together then we could
leave the stuff here and put an arrangement in place for him.
But he's not going for it, can't get any funds together, so he's gone.
He's given us the keys to the shop and he's off. Left us to it. So...
It's what he wants to do, it's up to him.
The truck pulls up outside and Lawrence and Kev start loading.
Well, that's going to be the first one.
What's the best way to take 'em?
Because we don't want them going down those steps.
There's only one thing for it.
Right, get up there.
After all, Lawrence is at home on anything with four wheels,
even if it only goes 5mph.
I do have some knowledge of mobility scooters.
My mother got through a few in her latter years, God rest her.
Managed to fit a few in the back of my van when they'd broken down,
and I had to go and collect her. Cos she used to run out of batteries.
Kev, meanwhile, is wrestling with the complexity of the machines.
What's going on here? What's he done to this one?
Has he broken this one?
This one's got something wrong with it, Lawrence.
Only Lawrence doesn't have the same problem.
It's very slow, but I'll get there.
Might have to push a bit.
As for Kev, he's still struggling...
It's not neutral. What am I not doing right?
..and is ultimately beaten.
This one, Lawrence, it's broken.
What have you done with it?
-It's just broke.
-It's not broken.
They fill up the van as much as they can and though it probably won't be
enough to cover the £4,500 the shop owes, every bit helps.
Mobility stuff has got a value.
There's a few bits in there that are worth a reasonable amount of money.
But most of it is second-hand.
But it will have some value to it.
And that means that the customer who took the shop to court will get at
least some of their money back.
Sheriff Ken Warby is battling the rain in Finchley, north London.
He's pursuing a debt owed by another small shop,
but this is a very different kind of business.
We're off to a place called Gina Jewellers.
The debt is £1,600.
The only thing I know about it is it's a...
it's unpaid invoices to a jewellery wholesaler's.
The wholesaler is a family firm called Jenny Brown Ltd.
After Gina Jewellers ran up an unpaid bill of over £1,000,
they took the matter to the County Court and won a judgment in their
favour. It's not been settled,
and now Ken is on his way to chase the debt.
Ken's looking forward to the job.
It's not just diamonds that are a sheriff's best friend.
He'd settle for gold or silver, if it comes to it.
They're very easy to remove goods from, jewellery shops.
You can usually demand the full amount straightaway.
So, yeah, pretty confident we could get a result on this one.
Oh, there it is. And it is Gina Jewellers, yes.
Ken parks up and heads for the door.
But it turns out he's not the only one
aware of how easily the shop's stock can be removed.
They've got a button-entry system, so Ken won't just be striding in.
The lady's seen me standing here.
See if they'll come...
Hello! Sorry, can you come to the door, please?
The staff have decided they don't like the look of Ken and our camera
and they're not opening up.
Instead, they're battening down the hatches.
It's an intercom to get into the door.
Now they're behind the protective screen and they're on the phone to
someone now. Could be the police or anyone, I don't know.
Ken can't do anything unless he can get inside the shop
or at least speak to the staff.
With no leverage, he's got to try and be diplomatic.
I'll explain what this is about. I've got identification on me.
Can you not come to the door?
Well, I can't shout through the letterbox.
That is, however, exactly what he'll have to do.
Right, it's regarding a debt owed to someone called Jenny Brown Ltd.
Is that making any sense?
Right, OK. You've got an amount outstanding
as at today's date of £1,668.88.
The staff member says the shop has recently changed hands
and that the debt dates back to the previous owners.
What Ken will need to find out is whether any of the assets inside
actually belong to the company named on the writ.
But that's going to be tricky, as the woman still won't open the door.
Unfortunately, she's not letting us in, and the owner isn't back until
later on this afternoon.
She's told me to wait for an hour or so.
I'm wondering what she is going to come back to the door and talk about.
But at the moment she's only talking to me through the other side.
A bit of a shame, because there's certainly plenty of assets in there.
But unless the woman is willing to open the door,
he won't be getting his hands on any of those assets today.
Faced with little alternative, Ken decides to call it quits for now.
Would you take this? All right?
This just explains what the debt is about. That's the breakdown.
All I will suggest, OK, because this is our first attendance,
is that this gets paid today.
Because failing that, we will be back again.
And when we come back, there will be extra charges on there.
All right, thank you. Bye. Cheers.
Ken's hoping the threat of a growing bill will prompt the company
to respond, and that's the best he can do.
I'm hoping that she's going to give me a call later on today,
or get the debt paid.
We'll be back another day. It doesn't bother me that much.
Ken heads off to the next job.
But a couple of hours later, he gets a phone call.
Hello. There are two ways you can pay that.
You can either go online and pay it by card
or you can do a bank transfer.
Ken's presence at the shop earlier clearly had an effect.
Even though the shop's being taken over by a different company,
the sale hasn't yet completed and in the meantime the new boss is willing
to settle the debt on the previous owner's behalf.
Thank you. Bye-bye.
Apparently they're under new ownership but the guy that's bought
the jeweller's still wants to clear the debts.
The debt outstanding is £1,668 as at today's date.
He said he can pay the 600.
I said, if you can pay the £1,000 today,
I'll give him two weeks to pay the balance.
He's going to give me a call back.
So, hopefully, that will get sorted soon as well.
Later that day, the boss did pay the £1,000
and cleared the remaining balance within two weeks.
Jenny Brown Ltd have now got their money back.
It's a bright spring morning, and Lawrence and Kev are in south London
on the trail of a car dealership which owes a debt to their client.
It's 11.30 in the morning.
We are in South Norwood, south London.
We are going to Prestige Car Sales.
They owe £3,958.
Prestige Car Sales of South Norwood,
not to be confused with any other company of a similar name,
was taken to court by painter and decorator David Goddard.
His dealings with the business began when he was looking for
a family-sized car for his wife.
I've actually got about 13 grandchildren
and six great-grandchildren,
and my wife takes them, especially in summer holidays, takes them down...
We've got a caravan in Selsey Bill.
So it was always ideal to have a bigger car
to carry the children around.
They hadn't been looking for long
before they found a car which seemed to fit the bill.
My wife looked through the internet
and found a Vauxhall Zafira
at Prestige Cars of South Norwood.
So they went to have a look and took the car for a test drive.
We'd taken it out on the Saturday and it sounded quite nice.
It was fine. The MOT was only three to four weeks old, the MOT.
Unfortunately, I left my bag there in the back of the car after
test-driving the vehicle,
and when we got home my wife said, "Well, that's an omen."
She said, "That car must be for me."
So they bought it for £2,290.
But the problems began immediately.
The next day, there was a puncture.
So we put a new tyre on the vehicle.
Then I said, "Well, you best go down to the tyres place
"and get the tyres checked."
It needed another two tyres and this is only sort of
two days after we bought the vehicle.
And that was just the start.
It was only a matter of days
before it started misfiring about two cylinders,
it rocking... It was jumping all over the place,
misfiring, so on and so forth.
And then, finally, it just gave up the ghost, basically.
David called up Prestige Car Sales to report the car had broken down.
He said, "Well, can you get the vehicle to us?"
I said, "No, we can't really because it's immobile."
Instead, they agreed he'd take it to a local garage.
Their inspection revealed a plethora of problems.
The core springs at the back were gone, the exhaust manifold nuts were missing,
so that was leaking gases.
He said, "If I was you... I've got it running for you
"but you shouldn't really spend any more money.
"It could be the engine,
"it could be the gearbox or it could be a sensor."
It could have been anything up to about £2,000 to £3,000.
It was very, very frustrating that
they'd sent the vehicle out in that sort of condition.
David spent £600 fixing just enough to get the car back on the road and
contacted Prestige Car Sales about the remaining problems.
He said, "Well, bring the vehicle back and we'll sort it out for you."
So David returned the car to the dealers.
But while he waited for it to be repaired,
he took a closer look at the service history documents,
which he still had.
He found a cylinder head had previously been replaced
and the car had experienced recurring issues
with the engine misfiring.
I said to my wife...
I said, "This car isn't any good."
I said, "It's just not fit for purpose, basically."
David decided he no longer wanted it and asked Prestige Car Sales to keep
the car and give him a refund.
They told him to put it in writing, so he did.
I said I'd forgo the 600 and 200 I spent on tyres.
"Just pay me the £2,290."
I said, "All I want is my money back, basically,
"so that we can get another vehicle."
No reply, nothing at all.
I couldn't believe that someone could think they could just take
£2,000-plus off of somebody,
a working person, and think they'd forget all about it.
David took Prestige Car Sales to court.
They didn't defend the case,
so he won a default judgment for the full cost of the car and the repairs
he'd made at his own expense.
They still haven't paid.
So now David's put the sheriffs on the case.
It's a necessity and it's got to be done,
otherwise I've no other way of getting the money back anyway.
In south London, Lawrence and Kev are about to pay Prestige Car Sales a visit.
I'm hoping the dealers are still here, for a start,
and I'm hoping they have some assets and some cars worth some value.
As they approach, it appears the garage is tucked away behind the main high street.
They head in to make their introductions.
Are you all right, mate?
Are you the owner?
-Is the owner about?
Is the owner about? My colleague and I are enforcement agents.
We've got a High Court writ against Prestige Car Sales.
We are ordered out by the High Court today to take control of goods
to be sold at auction and clear the debt.
Sorry, are you the owner, are you?
Sorry, he just said you weren't here.
So... I'll show you some ID. My name is Mr Griggs.
The boss is here after all.
Now Lawrence has to explain the whole thing all over again.
We are ordered out by High Court today to take control of goods to the value of £3,958.28
Those goods can be sold at auction to clear the debt.
The boss leads them into the back.
Basically, the only way to prevent further action today is to pay in full.
The garage extends behind the row of shops and is actually much larger
than it appeared from the street.
But we don't get to admire the stock for long.
-We'll wait outside.
-Our camera is sent outside.
Indoors, Lawrence explains that if the owner doesn't come up with the
nearly £4,000 the court demands,
then he'll have no choice but to leave with at least one of Prestige Cars Sales' vehicles.
The boss isn't happy and says he has applied to get the judgment set aside
but he doesn't yet even have a court date.
-He knows all about it.
-He's actually got the car here.
So I don't know why he's got the car here and hasn't paid it.
He's actually going back to court at some point.
He hasn't got a date for that yet but he will be going back to court.
Lawrence has told him the best course of action is to pay up now
and try to challenge it later.
It sounds like that's what he's going to do.
He knows he's got to pay it, so he's going to get a card from one of his
colleagues in there and they're going to pay for it.
The sheriffs have been on site for a mere 20 minutes
when associates of the owner arrive.
Between them they produce a card, and Lawrence takes a payment for the full £3,958 owed.
It all went fairly smoothly.
They will, undoubtedly, take some legal action, I would think,
to stop the money being paid out until they've had the hearing.
At the end of the day, we've been paid and that's all we're worried about.
In the end, Prestige Car Sales' application to get the judgment set aside
came to nothing. The case never did go back to court,
and five months after buying the car,
David Goddard has got his money back.
I'm very pleased that the outcome is in our favour and we have received
our money back. It is great. Brilliant.
Sheriffs are now officially known as High Court enforcement agents,
and they'll collect the money you're owed.
My job is to collect in full or remove goods.
They've got more powers of entry than bailiffs.
We don't have to take any notice of your security protocol, I'm afraid.
And there's no limit on the size of the debts they can pursue.
Their fees are set by the government,
which debtors have to pay on top of what they already owe.
Thank you very much. See you later.
If the sheriffs can't recover any of your money,
there's a fee of £75 plus VAT.
Ken is in Dunstable, near Luton, on his way to a trading estate.
We're going to visit a large furniture store, SCS.
The original debt is just over £2,000.
Ken's attending on behalf of a customer who bought a recliner sofa,
but the leather finish began to peel off.
When she asked the store for her money back,
she was instead offered an alternative sofa at a reduced prize.
She wasn't happy and despite the Citizens Advice Bureau intervening on her behalf,
they couldn't come to an agreement.
So she took SCS to court, and when they didn't offer a defence,
was awarded a default judgment.
Ken's not expecting them to remember.
I'll give them enough time to try and find out exactly who the claimant is.
The chances are, they'll need to speak to the head office because this is just one of their branches.
But given the stock he knows will be on site,
he's not going to take no for an answer.
They'll have more than enough assets to cover the debt here.
Pick one of about 40 three-piece suites, if you like.
Sometimes, sheriffs go direct to the company's head office.
But they're entitled to enforce anywhere the debtor has assets.
This is one of a dozen or so stores they've got up and down the country.
However, the notice of enforcement would have come to this address.
-It's the address on the writ, so Ken heads on.
SCS, I'd like to speak to the person in charge.
My name's Mr Warby.
It doesn't take the man long to realise he's not about to make a sale.
We're asked to leave while Ken starts the process of getting
through to someone with the power to pay up.
This is as I thought it would be.
A big company, just spoken to the store manager.
He doesn't know who this person is.
So he's now contacting his head office.
It's a small-ish debt, really, to a company this size
and I'll give them a bit of time.
There's only going to be one outcome, I want the money for my client, that's it.
The manager is off the phone and Ken heads back inside to talk to him.
Do you want me up there? I'll come up there.
How do I get up there?
Some progress has been made.
The company's head office in Sunderland are now aware of Ken eyeing up
their sofas and have said they're looking into it.
I spoke to a lady, nice lady.
I did tell her we need to get this resolved today.
This manager is going to fax over a copy of the actual
writ of control. So...
..it's just a question of waiting at the moment.
With nothing else he can do,
Ken has a quick sit down and his thoughts turn momentarily to his own living room.
This sofa is really nice, actually.
It reclines a treat.
The one I'm looking for, really, is on a button, an electric button.
If I can get one like that...
I'm not sure I'll get a discount here, somehow.
Finally, however, the manager is back
and an hour-and-a-half after he arrived, Ken's done.
Head office are going to pay.
A controlled goods agreement has been signed and, yeah, a successful job.
The customer has finally got her money back.
SCS might be a few thousand down on the day,
but after Ken spent the morning trying out every sofa in the shop,
they might have a new customer to make up for it.
The grey one was rather nice.
I did say to them, next time I come in, if I'm not holding my clipboard,
maybe we can do some business.
SCS told us the customer's sofa was inspected by...
The sheriffs are used to dealing with all manner of obstacles
in order to get debts paid,
but once in a while their mettle is really tested and it's not always
possible to get the outcome they want.
In Burnley, Alan Pennington is on his way to see a second-hand car business
called East Lancs Cars and Commercials Ltd,
who've been taken to court by a customer.
The claimant had stated that they'd bought a Suzuki,
and they've had nothing but faults on the car,
and a new MOT was promised and that didn't happen.
The claimant won her case by default
after the dealer didn't offer a defence.
Now Alan's on his way there to see if he can recover £2,285 owed.
But when he arrives,
there's a different name on the signs outside the business.
East Lancs Van Sales.
As this is the address on his writ,
and where the claimant bought their car, he heads in anyway.
There are certainly assets here.
Now all he needs to do is find the boss, Shaun Cosgrove.
Hello. Mr Cosgrove?
Is he here?
No matter, Alan's here to do his job whether the boss is in or not.
I'm an enforcement agent. I'm here with a High Court writ.
For East Lancs Car and Commercials Ltd.
East Lancs Vans?
It might sound similar, but it's not who Alan's looking for,
so he needs to find out whether East Lancs Vans is just a trading name
the debtor uses, or if it really is a different company.
Is Shaun Cosgrove still in charge, is he?
And Brian is soon on the phone.
My name's Mr Pennington from the High Court Sheriffs Office.
I'm looking for a Shaun Cosgrove.
The man says that's not him.
Yeah, but what's your name, then?
Alan's told he doesn't need to know.
Well, I do want to get the bottom of it, don't I?
Brian is refusing to give his full name.
He also says none of the vehicles here belong to East Lancs Car and Commercials Ltd.
Who are they owned by? Who are they owned by?
Again, Brian won't say.
You're trading as East Lancs Van Sales, aren't you?
So you're going to have some paperwork.
If you're trading as East Lancs Van Sales,
you will have a Companies House number, won't you?
Brian isn't giving anything away.
So Alan tries to find out for himself.
He heads into their office and begins examining their paperwork.
As a High Court enforcement agent, Alan is acting well within his powers.
Right. High Court writ, all stamped, OK?
All I want him to do - Brian - is to be helpful to me and I'll go away.
But then Alan finds a clue.
I've just seen one of your receipts.
East Lancs Car and Commercials.
That suggests the debtor company is still trading here,
but unfortunately the receipt isn't for a vehicle,
so it isn't much help in terms of finding valuable assets.
Receipts for those are apparently with Brian.
Why don't you bring them down and show me so I can go away?
-Why are you being awkward?
-Awkward is an understatement.
Brian tells Alan to go ahead and order a low-loader to remove vehicles to
cover the debt. But he says when it arrives he'll turn up with proof
they don't belong to the debtor company, so can't be taken.
The only way Alan can find out if he's telling the truth is to call his bluff.
It might well prove to be a waste of time,
but Alan's job is to do whatever he can to get the claimant's money back.
So it's the only option left.
The office is ringing for a low-loader now,
so I'm just going to check the size of the vehicles
to see which ones we can take.
Calling the low-loader unleashes
a bout of activity inside the car yard.
The staff are removing car keys from the office,
the shutters to the unit have been rolled down
and they're blocking the exit to the yard.
-'Welcome to Lancashire Police.'
Alan's calling for back-up.
I need some police assistance, please.
The atmosphere is getting tense.
A large number of people are gathering, and the barricade
to the car yard is growing. Even a dog has been added to the mix.
The low-loader arrives.
This thing here, will that take that bollard away?
So do the police.
Basically, there's the High Court writ with the stamp on it, OK?
And then this guy turns up.
What's your name?
Is your name Shaun Cosgrave?
I'm not taking them.
There's a van inside.
This is what I asked
over an hour-and-a-half ago and no-one bothered...
So Brian's rang you, has he?
Alan can only take control of assets if they belong to the debtor.
So if the man really does have invoices in a different company name,
then the vans can't be removed.
Soon another man arrives with a bundle of paperwork.
Shall we go in the office, Mr Whatever-Your-Name-Is?
Inside the office, it's just as Alan feared it would be.
The invoices show that the cars belong not the debtor,
East Lancs Car and Commercials Ltd, but to a company called
Used-car Sales (Colne) Ltd.
Shaun Cosgrove is the director of both,
but they're separate legal entities.
Alan is going to have to leave without payment, and the frustration shows.
I think he just basically wanted to waste my time.
He knew what he was going to do.
He basically said to me, "You do what you need to do and when you arrive,
"I'll show you the paperwork."
He's messed my time, he's messed the police's time,
simply because he knew it was going to cost the sheriffs money
and not cost him anything.
On this occasion, persistence hasn't paid off,
but for the sheriffs, a thick skin is part of the job description.
I suppose it's the way things happen. You win some, you lose some.
As East Lancs Cars and Commercials Ltd doesn't appear to have any
assets that can be removed to cover its debt,
there's nothing more that can be done to get the claimant's money back.
Disputes between landlords and tenants are all too common.
Today, Lawrence and Kev are about to enforce a writ in a case where a
disagreement over a property
ended up being decided by the courts.
It's ten o'clock in the morning.
Romford, we're heading to.
We're going to go and find a Dr Soumyo Gorai.
Dr Gorai was taken to court by a former tenant who claims they were
unfairly evicted from the property.
And according to the information we have,
he proceeded to rent the property out to someone else
with all our client's property and personal belongings still in there.
The tenant claims they never got their stuff back, and took the case
to court to recover their costs.
They won a default judgment in their favour for £5,000,
some of which has now been paid.
But Kev and Lawrence are here for the rest.
He owes £1,670.
The sheriffs are arriving at what they believe
is Dr Gorai's home address
and they've spotted a black BMW they think is his.
Yeah, that's it, yeah.
The sheriffs have already done checks on a licence plate number
they've been supplied to confirm the BMW was free from finance
and so could be removed.
-But there is a problem.
-We have got it slightly wrong.
We were given the wrong number, were we?
One of the digits is different from what the sheriffs have been told.
Right, so we haven't got a result on it, then, have we?
That means they don't know whether
this car is clear of finance after all.
Lawrence heads to the house to see if the doctor is home.
They try the bell but there's no answer.
Lawrence looks for any sign of life.
Anything in the letterbox that could confirm that he lives here.
-There's one for him.
-It's addressed here, is it?
And another one and another one. And another one.
So the sheriffs are in the right place, but is the debtor here today?
With barbed wire on top of the wall, they won't be climbing over.
While Lawrence takes a closer look at the car,
Ken tries the neighbours.
I wonder if you could help me. Do you know if it's Dr Gorai living next door?
But they don't seem to know.
All right, no worries.
It looks like this could be a wasted trip.
We've just had to leave paperwork.
that we were given the wrong registration for the vehicle.
It wouldn't have mattered whether they were in or not,
we'd have taken the car.
So we'll have to hope now that either he gets in touch and pays,
or the car is still here when we come back,
if he doesn't get in touch.
-I have my suspicions about that... Ah.
But just as hope of getting debt paid is fading,
a car pulls into the drive.
It's Dr Gorai.
Once he's stepped out of the car,
Lawrence takes the opportunity to acquire his car keys.
It won't be worth as much as the BMW, but it's something.
My name is Mr Griggs, my colleague and I are enforcement agents.
We're here today with a High Court writ.
The total outstanding is £1,670.16
We're ordered here today by the High Court to take control of goods
to clear that debt, unless you pay in full.
-I can pay in full.
-If you give me the account details,
-I will transfer it straight away.
Dr Gorai has immediately offered to settle the bill,
so why didn't he pay earlier?
Your letters don't give us any account details.
No, but it gives you details of how you can get in touch with us to make
-the payment, doesn't it?
-But without account details, how can I make a payment?
Right, that's something you need to take up with the Ministry of Justice, sir,
because the forms are prescribed forms by the Ministry of Justice.
And Lawrence is happy to provide all the details Dr Gorai needs.
It's that sort code, that account number.
It needs to be done as an immediate payment.
If you do that, then I'll check with my office, and providing
the money has gone into the account, we will issue you a receipt,
you can have your keys back and we'll be on our way.
Without my keys, I can't get into my property.
-That's a car key, sir.
-My house key is in the boot of the car.
Lawrence doesn't want to give the car keys back,
but opens the boot for him.
Dr Gorai unlocks the house
and starts to get some things from the car.
But he's left the front door open, so Kev steps in,
closely followed by Lawrence.
-Can you wait outside?
-No, my colleague is already inside, sir.
We'll come in while you make the payment.
Is that what you...
The sheriffs are legally allowed to walk through an open door
into a residential premises.
Once inside, they can't be told to leave.
But ten minutes later,
the sheriffs are back out of their own accord
with their every move filmed by the debtor,
who is also willing to volunteer his side of the story.
This was regarding a tenant of mine
who stayed in my property for seven months without paying rent,
trashed my property,
kept a snake in the property,
kept rats in the property,
completely trashed my garden.
Dr Gorai claims the tenants left of their own accord
when he chased them for the rent.
Then I used my keys to get into the property and there
were some goods left in the property.
When we changed the locks for the front door,
they then went to the court and tried to get money back
for the £5,000 of goods that they thought I had stolen from them,
which we had kept for them for some time
but they didn't come to collect it,
and when they didn't come to collect it,
we had to dispose of the goods
because we didn't want to touch their goods.
But the court ruled in the tenants' favour, and ordered Dr Gorai
to pay them £5,000, which he hasn't done.
Dr Gorai admits he received a demand for payment
from the sheriffs,
but didn't think he'd been given enough information.
There was no bank account,
there was no address to where the payment had to be made,
there was just a telephone number,
and our experience of telephone numbers is very bad.
He gave me the details today and I paid within ten minutes.
It's a much better outcome than the sheriffs anticipated.
That went very well. We were basically about to leave because we couldn't get an answer.
But he did pay fairly quickly.
He was a bit awkward, as some people tend to be.
We showed him ID when he pulled up on his driveway
but then he was wanting to see it again.
He didn't want to sign the receipt, either.
It doesn't matter to us, we've got the payment. So job done.
And that means the tenant whose property went missing
will get the money the court said they were owed.
Sheriffs Lawrence and Kev visit a business selling mobility scooters which owes a customer a refund, but events take a very unexpected turn.
After a woman was left on the brink of financial ruin when a building project went wrong, sheriffs Tommy and Craig track down the man who the courts say owes her money - but will he pay up?
Sheriff Ken Warby is confronted with a very unusual problem as he tries to enforce a high court writ at a jewellers.