Episode 3 The Sheriffs Are Coming


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Episode 3

Series following high court enforcement officers. Sheriffs Tommy and Craig confront the lodger who left owing three months rent.


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Transcript


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Meet the sheriffs.

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My name's Mr Grix. My colleague and I are enforcement agents.

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-It's do with a High Court order.

-They work for the High Court.

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And if it says you're owed money, it's their job to go and get it.

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I'm here for £6,072.18.

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They can demand payment on the spot.

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I'm here for the full balance.

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How are you going to pay it?

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Or remove assets instead.

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The car will be going unless you can pay it.

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You'll have a week to pay in full before it gets sold at auction.

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Obstructing their work can be a criminal offence.

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I wouldn't do that if I were you.

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The door needs to stay open.

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Every year in England and Wales,

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unpaid debts totalling more than £80 million

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are recovered by the sheriffs.

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Coming up,

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Kate Killick is owed three months' rent after her student lodger

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upped and left without warning.

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He rang me one day to say he had been kicked off the course

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and basically said, "Tough,"

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and had no sense that he was ever going to pay the money back.

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But when Tommy and Craig pay the man a visit,

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he's reluctant to face the facts.

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The car's not going anywhere, I'll tell you that now.

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You need to address this, Mr Akbar, otherwise it will be going.

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A repair to Tony Grace's pride and joy wasn't up to scratch.

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I felt angry that they'd not done the job properly.

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But will the sheriffs be able to find enough assets

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to get his money back?

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This is a remapping device.

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About £3,000-£4,000 brand-new.

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Ken meets a debtor with an identity crisis.

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He's going in roundabout ways, trying to palm me off.

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And the sheriffs face resistance on a factory floor.

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-Can you move?

-On a commercial property,

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we can force entry if we need to, sir.

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-It's a court order, sir.

-But you ain't got to come in.

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In the Midlands, enforcement agents Tommy Coyle and Craig Wild are up

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early. They're in pursuit of a debtor who Craig is convinced has

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been avoiding him, and they're about to knock on his door.

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We're off to go and see a Mr Ali Akbar,

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who has had several visits from ourselves and notifications have

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been left on every single time.

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He's failed to respond to it.

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Mr Akbar has been taken to court for unpaid rent.

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The claimant is Kate Killick,

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a beauty therapist and a single mum with two children.

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She first met Mr Akbar when she was hoping to make some extra cash by

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renting out a spare room in the family home.

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The extra income is really important,

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because it's whether or not you have a really nice Christmas,

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you haven't got to worry about presents for the children.

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I don't think anyone really wants a stranger living in their house, but,

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you know, sometimes you have to do things.

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Kate lives in Shoreham in Sussex,

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and to find a lodger, she contacted the local airport.

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They have a flying school and are often looking for host families to

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accommodate trainee pilots.

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The college put her in touch with Mr Akbar, and she agreed to take him in.

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Yeah, when I first met Ali he just seemed like a reasonably nice

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young person.

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I think he was 20 or 21.

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Initially he was paying £125 a week, with breakfast,

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but he never got up for breakfast, so I just dropped it to 100,

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it seemed fairer.

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And in many ways Mr Akbar was the ideal lodger.

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He was hardly ever here.

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He did go out every evening and he didn't get home till the early hours

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of the morning,

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and when I left for work in the morning he was still in bed,

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so I never really saw him. It was perfect, really,

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from that point of view.

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What wasn't so perfect was that after several months,

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he began to fall behind with his rent.

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But at first, Kate wasn't worried.

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When I questioned him,

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he said his mum was out the country and he'd have to wait till she got

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back in the country and he'd get the rent.

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And because she'd paid so much for these college courses and he's got

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another year or so, you know,

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I just thought that they'd be good for the money.

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But after Kate hadn't received her rent for three months,

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Mr Akbar suddenly pulled the plug on their arrangement.

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He rang me one day to say he'd gone into college

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and he'd been kicked off the course.

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So he'd literally packed his stuff up and gone,

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and basically said, "Tough," I wouldn't be able to get

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the rent money, the arrears.

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He just appeared to not even have any sense of responsibility

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or that he was ever going to pay the money back.

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I did say I would go through the small claims court and he just

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basically said, "Good luck with that."

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For Kate, it was an upsetting end to the relationship.

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I am very angry with Ali,

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because you welcome someone into your home and treat them almost like

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a member of the family,

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give them a lot of trust and believe in their honesty,

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and they let you down.

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And it's a lot of money to lose, £1,500.

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So, just as she'd promised to do,

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Kate pursued Mr Akbar through the courts.

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There was a court date set to explain his side and he didn't turn up.

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A default judgment was awarded in her favour,

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but Kate suspected that wouldn't be the end of it.

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Just because someone's told they've got to pay you the money,

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they're not going to do it.

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So I went online to see what my options were,

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and that's when I found out about the sheriffs.

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It's now down to the sheriffs to get back her lost rent,

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plus costs and fees.

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100%, the sheriffs are my last hope,

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because I know he's not going to pay the money.

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He doesn't think there's a legal way that I can get the money,

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so he's going to have a surprise.

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In Birmingham, enforcement agents Tommy and Craig are arriving at

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Mr Akbar's home.

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We've noted a vehicle a couple of times that has been there,

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it's a sporty Vauxhall.

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The DVLA check has come back on that vehicle -

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the registered keeper is down to him.

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So today's job is to go there, knock the door again, if the car's there,

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we'll clamp it straight away.

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And if he wants to pay it then that's fine, we'll deal with that,

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and if not, unfortunately his car's got to go.

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The sheriffs approach Mr Akbar's house with anticipation,

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their eyes peeled for the prize asset.

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-There it is, that white car there.

-That's his car?

-That's his car.

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I'll park behind it, then.

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That's really good, look.

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There's the white car, there's the VXR.

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Tommy blocks the car in

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and they get straight to work.

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-Right, that's on.

-You done?

-Done.

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HE KNOCKS

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But, just like Craig's previous visits, there's no answer.

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HE CONTINUES KNOCKING

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-Brr!

-Mr Akbar, it's Mr Wild from the sheriff's office.

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If you fail to come to the door,

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we'll have to deal with the court order by removing the Astra.

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This is what I get all the time here, just no answer.

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They're in, but they just don't answer the door.

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And after a few more minutes of trying with no response,

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Craig sets the wheels in motion.

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I'm just going to phone the tow truck now.

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When we clamp a vehicle and immobilise it, we have to wait

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two hours, giving them a chance, really, to resolve it,

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even though we've been knocking at the door.

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It normally takes well over an hour for the transport to get here,

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so that's why Craig's organising it now.

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Cheers, thanks a lot, bye-bye.

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Contractors are all booked now,

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so the cost of that will go on top of their bill.

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In our experience, once the tow truck turns up with its amber lights

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flashing and the engine revving,

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that usually brings them to the door.

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This does happen sometimes,

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they just completely go to ground inside and they won't come out until

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the actual transport arrives to take the vehicle, and then someone may

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come to the door saying, "We didn't know nothing about it and want to

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"resolve this," and it's too late, normally.

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They have to find a large sum of money very quickly or it'll be going

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on the back of a truck and away.

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But no sooner has Tommy spoken than a young man walks out of the house.

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-How's it going?

-Hello, sir.

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Mr Akbar, is it?

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Mr Wild from the sheriff's office.

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They've sent us out to obviously execute this court order.

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Because you owe the money, there's a High Court order.

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Yeah.

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The court thinks you do.

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Mr Akbar, it seems, is in denial.

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Well, unfortunately, Mr Akbar, all letters have been left

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for your attention, you've failed to deal with it,

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so they've sent us out to remove the car today.

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You haven't, sir. The court say different.

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Well, you've had paperwork hand-delivered by the agent here.

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No problem at all.

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Craig obliges and shows Mr Akbar his writ.

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And that's the commandment of the courts to endorse and obviously

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take control of your assets today.

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Faced with the documents, Mr Akbar finally has a moment of realisation.

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Penny's dropped now, has it?

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It's already been to court, sir. No, it's already been to court.

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Exactly, she's gone to court because...

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I'm not mad, blud. I'm not mad.

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I'm not a bailiff, no, I'm a High Court enforcement agent.

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I just explained it to you, I'm a High Court enforcement agent,

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I've been here at least three times, left letters for you,

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you've failed to respond to that.

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Despite seeing the court order,

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it seems Mr Akbar is unwilling to recognise the sheriff's authority.

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Because the law says and the court say

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we've got to come here to see you.

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And if you don't deal with it, we've got to deal with it for you.

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We don't want to do that. We'd much rather get paid and be on our way.

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What makes you think it's not going to go?

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You need to address this, Mr Akbar, otherwise it WILL be going.

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The car will be going unless you can pay it.

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That's fine. But the law says you've got seven days from today,

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once your assets have been removed. We'll start doing the paperwork now,

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you've got the seven days to seek your own legal advice,

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try and raise the money and if you're successful,

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then you're entitled to your goods back.

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Mr Akbar clearly doesn't want to pay, but it looks like the sheriff's

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ultimatum of removing the car is finally sinking in.

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After briefly heading inside to mull it over,

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he returns and he's changed his tune.

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It has to be the full balance, the reason for that is...

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You could have before.

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We don't have many options.

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Full amount or let the vehicle go, it doesn't matter whether you

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let it go or not, it will go, and you'll get seven days.

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That's all we can do for you.

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It's 20 to nine now, you've got

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until quarter past ten, an hour and a half.

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If you want to stop the vehicle going.

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-No problem.

-No problem at all, Mr Akbar.

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Mr Akbar's offer of part payment has come too late. His previous

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failure to engage with Craig doesn't fill the sheriffs with confidence

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about the prospect of him sticking to a payment plan,

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so with a decent asset sitting in front of them,

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it's got to be the whole lot.

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The defendant has indicated he might get some money, but the time is

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ticking and we told him the deadline to get that money to us.

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We've also told him that he has incurred the extra cost

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of the contractor, because we've commenced them on their way.

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So, unfortunately, it's been a very expensive day for Mr Akbar.

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As they wait it out in the van,

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Mr Akbar again comes to speak to them, and he's got a fresh offer.

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We can't, it's not a case of us

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trying to not be helpful, we do as much as we can,

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we leave the vehicle clamped for two hours.

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This is clamped.

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It's clamped.

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There's a clamp on the front.

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Once again, it's taking a while for reality to sink in.

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But with his offer of payment gradually increasing,

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Tommy is quietly confident.

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Yeah, a bit more positive that time,

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could be payment in full coming here. I've got a feeling,

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I can feel it in the air, coming down the pipes.

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But later on, there's another problem

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as the car suddenly appears to have a new owner.

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The car's yours now, is it? When did you get it?

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Using the County Courts to try to recover money you're owed

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isn't difficult.

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One and a half million money claims are made every year

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in England and Wales, involving anything from faulty goods

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or poor workmanship to unpaid invoices.

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Claims can be filed by post or online for a small fee.

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Both parties in the case will be asked to submit evidence

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and you may have to attend a court hearing.

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If you're successful, a County Court Judgment, or CCJ,

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will be issued against the debtor, and if they still don't pay,

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that's when you call the sheriffs.

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Enforcement agent Ken Warby is no mug,

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and today his nose to sniff out a tall story is going to come in handy.

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He's on his way to Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire

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in search of a local businessman.

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We are going to visit someone called Mr Rostami,

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trading as LJ's Nightclub.

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Mr Ebi Rostami's been sued by a woman who was injured

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after slipping in his club. A court's ordered him to pay, but he hasn't,

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so it's Ken's job to collect £5,213,

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including costs and fees.

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It turns out Ken is no stranger to the nightclub scene himself.

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Give me a half of shandy, and...

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I can pull a few shapes on the dance floor, absolutely.

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But sadly we won't get to see that today,

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as it seems the nightclub has shut down.

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We was there a couple of weeks ago, and that's empty.

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Sheriffs are permitted to visit any address where they believe

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the debtor may have assets,

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and they've been told Mr Rostami also runs a cafe.

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This second business could be the key to Ken getting his claimant's money.

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He reaches Aylesbury,

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parks up...

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..and heads into town on foot, passing the nightclub on the way.

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Just checking to see no-one's moved back in there,

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but it is as it was a couple of weeks ago.

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Off to the caff, and hopefully our guy is there.

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The cafe is just down the road, and Ken heads in.

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Hello. I wanted to speak to Mr Rostami.

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He's the owner, yeah?

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I need to speak to him urgently.

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Can someone get hold of him?

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Thank you.

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The barwoman heads off to see if she can track down Mr Rostami,

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and shortly afterwards a man appears from the back.

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Hello.

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It's Mr Rostami I want to speak to.

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Sorry, are you a... are you a manager here?

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In fact, although Ken has no way of knowing it, this is Mr Rostami,

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and he's being somewhat economical with the truth.

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He's not here?

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Right.

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Well, you need to get him on the phone,

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because I need to speak to him urgently, thank you.

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Cheers.

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Mr Rostami walks off, and although he doesn't know the full story,

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Ken smells a rat.

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Well, this is interesting. I think this guy, in a roundabout way,

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is trying to palm me off to someone else.

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But first impressions, yeah, plenty of assets in here, so, um...

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..we'll wait and see.

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It's ten minutes since Mr Rostami disappeared

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before a new member of staff comes to speak to Ken,

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and now it seems the story has changed.

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Right. We were informed that the guy owned this as well.

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Right, OK. Did he used to own this, then?

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Right. I need to speak to the owner,

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because I've got a High Court writ of control,

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which gives me authority to remove goods from here in lieu of

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an outstanding amount that he owes.

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So you need to make some phone calls

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and get him or her down here straight away.

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So while one staff member thinks Mr Rostami owns the cafe,

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another seems to know nothing about it.

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Ken's not sure what exactly is going on,

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but he knows better than to take the barman's word for it.

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"He doesn't own this, Michelle owns this."

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Well, I'm not going to go away on that basis.

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I need to speak to the supposed owner or new owner of this place,

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and I need some proof that she is the owner here.

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Soon enough, a woman turns up who appears to be a manager.

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Hello.

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Are you Michelle?

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Our cameraman obliges and steps out onto the street.

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Ken follows shortly afterwards,

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and it seems Michelle has told him the same thing as the barman.

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She just confirms that he shut the nightclub down, this guy,

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and he has nothing to do with this place.

0:18:440:18:46

I said, "I need to see some proof that you are the sole owner of this place."

0:18:460:18:50

She said, "Well, it's going through."

0:18:500:18:52

And then I said, "Is your name on the business rates?"

0:18:520:18:54

She said, "No, it's still his name."

0:18:540:18:56

I said, "You need to find this money and find it all,

0:18:560:18:59

"because I will be removing your goods."

0:18:590:19:03

So we're going to wait and see.

0:19:030:19:04

She's gone to make a few phone calls.

0:19:040:19:06

I'm just going to get back in there and

0:19:060:19:09

tough this one out, I think.

0:19:090:19:11

If Mr Rostami has indeed sold the business to this Michelle,

0:19:130:19:17

it must've been fairly recently.

0:19:170:19:19

There's even still a job advert in the window with his name and mobile

0:19:190:19:23

number on it, not to mention his earlier appearance behind the bar.

0:19:230:19:26

Ken is not going to walk away from this one in a hurry.

0:19:280:19:30

And soon enough, there is an offer of payment.

0:19:320:19:35

She said that she can't come up with the full amount of money but she can

0:19:350:19:38

come up with £2,000 and she has offered to clear the debt in three weeks.

0:19:380:19:43

So hopefully that will be good enough for the client.

0:19:430:19:47

The news is she is actually, um...

0:19:470:19:50

Mr Rostami's ex-wife,

0:19:500:19:53

so that's the connection. So...

0:19:530:19:55

Dig a little bit deeper and we always get the truth in the end.

0:19:560:19:59

Ken heads back in,

0:20:000:20:02

where he persuades Michelle to part with a further £213 up front,

0:20:020:20:07

leaving a neat £3,000 to pay over three weeks.

0:20:070:20:10

Ken's confident she'll make good on her promise.

0:20:100:20:13

I'm pretty sure they're going to have the funds.

0:20:130:20:16

It's quite a good result, really,

0:20:160:20:17

because originally I was given the story

0:20:170:20:19

the guy had nothing to do with her place any more and that isn't quite the case,

0:20:190:20:23

so a good result for the client, on to the next job.

0:20:230:20:27

Following filming, the debt owed by Mr Rostami was paid in full.

0:20:280:20:32

The young woman who was injured in LJ's nightclub

0:20:320:20:36

has now got the money awarded to her by the court.

0:20:360:20:39

Enforcement agents Lawrence Grix and Kev McNally are on the road.

0:20:490:20:53

They're heading to Bishop's Stortford in Hertfordshire

0:20:530:20:56

with a writ against a car garage.

0:20:560:20:58

Today's debtor, though, is not the normal, run-of-the-mill garage,

0:20:580:21:02

and the vehicle at the centre of the dispute is no everyday car.

0:21:020:21:06

We're going to see Porsche Dynamics Ltd.

0:21:060:21:09

The money they owe is £1,658

0:21:090:21:13

and the debt is relating to some work they did.

0:21:130:21:16

It's actually for a gearbox gasket replacement.

0:21:170:21:20

The claimant in the case is heating engineer Tony Grace,

0:21:230:21:26

a lifelong Porsche enthusiast

0:21:260:21:28

and the proud owner of a Dolphin Grey model.

0:21:280:21:31

I've always had Porsches. I've always had a passion for them.

0:21:310:21:34

I like the engine in the back and the sound of them.

0:21:340:21:37

They're not overstated, the Porsches,

0:21:380:21:41

but the 966 Turbo, it's the best one out of all of them.

0:21:410:21:45

It's such a fast car and good fun, you know.

0:21:450:21:49

But even the finest engineering isn't without its flaws,

0:21:490:21:52

and one day, Tony discovered his beloved car

0:21:520:21:56

had sprung a leak in its gearbox.

0:21:560:21:58

So he looked around for a suitable specialist and someone he knew

0:21:580:22:02

recommended Porsche Dynamics Ltd.

0:22:020:22:04

When I first saw the garage, it seemed OK.

0:22:040:22:08

I wasn't mad on the guy.

0:22:080:22:10

He didn't seem as knowledgeable as other people that I've used,

0:22:100:22:14

but you can be wrong on that,

0:22:140:22:16

so I wouldn't hold that against him, you know.

0:22:160:22:19

The man said the garage could fix the problem and charged Tony £700,

0:22:190:22:24

but it didn't seem to make any difference.

0:22:240:22:26

I kept taking it back and forward.

0:22:260:22:28

I don't know whether they misdiagnosed it,

0:22:280:22:31

but every time I got it back, it was leaking.

0:22:310:22:33

So, in the end, I took it to a garage.

0:22:330:22:35

I got it up on the ramp, and when I looked,

0:22:350:22:38

they'd used a sealant on it and it was probably about six inches long,

0:22:380:22:42

and I thought, "You can't do that on a car like that!"

0:22:420:22:45

That's not really going to stop the pressured leak on the oil.

0:22:450:22:49

Even I know that and I'm not a mechanic.

0:22:490:22:51

Tony's final confirmation that he hadn't got the service he'd paid for

0:22:530:22:57

came when the second garage made the repair he'd requested all along.

0:22:570:23:01

He changed the gasket within five hours.

0:23:010:23:04

He'd done a really good job and, touch wood,

0:23:040:23:06

I've never had a problem with it.

0:23:060:23:07

So, obviously,

0:23:090:23:10

the other people didn't do the gasket.

0:23:100:23:13

And that's when Tony began to get annoyed.

0:23:130:23:16

Because I had to take it somewhere else and pay again,

0:23:160:23:19

I've sort of had to pay double,

0:23:190:23:21

and I've thought, well, that's not right.

0:23:210:23:23

If I pay for something that's cost me 700 quid

0:23:230:23:26

and then I've got to pay again...

0:23:260:23:28

I felt angry that they'd not done the job properly, really.

0:23:280:23:32

Tony got in touch with Porsche Dynamics Ltd to complain,

0:23:320:23:35

and initially, it sounded like they were keen

0:23:350:23:38

to get the matter resolved.

0:23:380:23:39

He said, "Oh, yeah. We'll give you your money back."

0:23:390:23:42

So he didn't argue at first.

0:23:420:23:43

But this went on for weeks and weeks.

0:23:430:23:46

In the end, I had no alternative but to sort of take it further.

0:23:460:23:50

Tony took the company to court

0:23:500:23:51

and won his case when they didn't offer a defence.

0:23:510:23:55

They haven't paid.

0:23:550:23:56

Now he's escalated the case to the sheriffs.

0:23:560:23:59

If they don't get nowhere, I'll just have to accept it.

0:23:590:24:03

Lawrence and Kev are on their way to the debtor garage

0:24:080:24:11

and it seems they and Tony have a lot in common.

0:24:110:24:14

Rather than tactics,

0:24:140:24:16

the top conversational topic is the finer points of Porsche.

0:24:160:24:19

I had one a few years ago, now.

0:24:190:24:21

I had it for a long time. I loved it.

0:24:210:24:23

If I had had the money, I would have had one when I was younger.

0:24:230:24:26

I probably wouldn't now, to be honest.

0:24:260:24:28

I'm getting to the time of life where I don't want to be

0:24:280:24:30

getting down onto the level of a tea tray to get into my car.

0:24:300:24:33

The sheriffs arrive at the industrial estate

0:24:340:24:37

they're looking for and the debtor company isn't hard to spot.

0:24:370:24:41

-There it is.

-The Porsche was a bit of a giveaway.

0:24:410:24:43

That's how I roll.

0:24:430:24:45

Like a ninja.

0:24:450:24:46

The sheriffs head inside in search of £1,600.

0:24:470:24:51

Morning, sir.

0:24:530:24:54

My name's Mr Grix.

0:24:560:24:58

My colleague and I are enforcement agents.

0:24:580:25:00

We're here with a High Court writ of control against Porsche Dynamics Ltd

0:25:000:25:03

in favour of Mr AJ Grace.

0:25:030:25:06

-Right.

-We're ordered here today by the court to take control

0:25:060:25:08

of goods to the value of £1,658.02 to clear this debt.

0:25:080:25:13

The only way to prevent further action is to pay in full.

0:25:130:25:16

At this point, the man asks our cameraman to leave,

0:25:160:25:19

while the conversation continues inside.

0:25:190:25:21

The debtor says he's got plenty of work but cash flow's a problem

0:25:210:25:26

and so he can only raise £400,

0:25:260:25:28

with the remainder to be paid over a period of weeks.

0:25:280:25:31

But to go on a payment arrangement,

0:25:310:25:33

Lawrence wants at least half the debt cleared today,

0:25:330:25:36

and he'd need to take control of goods on the premises as security,

0:25:360:25:40

and that's where there's a problem.

0:25:400:25:42

It seems Porsche Dynamics Ltd has another unpaid debt,

0:25:420:25:46

and a different enforcement agent has already called

0:25:460:25:49

and had first dibs on everything here.

0:25:490:25:52

They've actually listed and got an inventory of goods

0:25:520:25:55

they've taken down into their possession.

0:25:550:25:57

So we've got to find other assets that they haven't taken control of.

0:25:570:26:03

So, while the boss calls around to see if he can raise any more money,

0:26:030:26:08

the sheriffs are on a treasure hunt for any assets that are left.

0:26:080:26:12

Predictably, the cars are all owned by customers,

0:26:120:26:15

so Lawrence and Kev are focusing on the garage equipment.

0:26:150:26:18

And so far, it's hardly proving to be a gold mine.

0:26:180:26:21

As of now, there's only one diagnostics bit of kit

0:26:210:26:24

that's worth... probably worth a couple of grand.

0:26:240:26:27

We're just seeing what else there is.

0:26:270:26:28

Most of the stuff's on finance as well.

0:26:280:26:30

So he's getting the finance documentation together, as well.

0:26:300:26:33

We'll get a result of sorts on this job.

0:26:330:26:35

It just depends. It depends what it is.

0:26:350:26:38

It soon becomes clear that the boss can't raise any more money.

0:26:380:26:42

The sheriffs have little option but to refuse his offer of £400

0:26:420:26:46

and remove anything they can find which hasn't already been bagged

0:26:460:26:50

by the other enforcement agent.

0:26:500:26:52

45 minutes later, they are out the door with goods in hand.

0:26:520:26:57

This is a remapping device,

0:26:570:26:59

I would guess about £3,000-£4,000, brand-new.

0:26:590:27:03

This is a snap-on bit of diagnostic kit.

0:27:030:27:07

Brand-new, this would probably be £3,000-£4,000.

0:27:070:27:10

At auction, you'd probably get half of that.

0:27:100:27:13

It may not be the Crown Jewels,

0:27:130:27:14

but it should raise enough at auction

0:27:140:27:16

to cover Porsche Dynamics' debt.

0:27:160:27:18

That's if the man doesn't come up with the money first

0:27:180:27:21

and within seven days.

0:27:210:27:23

I think he'll potentially buy it back.

0:27:230:27:25

He'll try and get the money together to buy it back

0:27:250:27:27

before it gets sold. Hopefully.

0:27:270:27:29

In fact, the boss never did make any payment at all

0:27:290:27:32

and his equipment has been listed for auction.

0:27:320:27:35

The claimant, Tony Grace, should get his money back any day now

0:27:350:27:39

and is delighted to see the matter finally coming to an end.

0:27:390:27:43

Yeah. Good news. Probably, with the money,

0:27:430:27:46

I'll probably end up spending it on the dog.

0:27:460:27:49

She's got a bad foot.

0:27:490:27:51

It's nice to have it come to an end and put it to bed,

0:27:510:27:55

and then forget about it and move on.

0:27:550:27:57

Life's for living.

0:27:570:27:58

HE LAUGHS

0:27:580:28:00

Porsche Dynamics Ltd told us that...

0:28:020:28:04

It's before dawn and the sheriffs are gathering in Southend in Essex.

0:28:320:28:37

There's lights on up in the property,

0:28:370:28:39

so we need to be really quiet.

0:28:390:28:40

They're here to evict a group of squatters from a nearby building.

0:28:400:28:44

If the window's open, me and Jack go through the window.

0:28:440:28:48

If the door opens easy, then in through the door.

0:28:480:28:51

It's a commercial property which has been vacant for a while,

0:28:510:28:54

and it's thought about a dozen squatters have moved in.

0:28:540:28:58

The owner wants them out so he can renovate the building.

0:28:580:29:01

He's got a writ of possession which the sheriffs are about to enforce.

0:29:010:29:05

On this occasion, getting in proves to be straightforward

0:29:050:29:09

as the window opens easily.

0:29:090:29:11

Soon followed by the door.

0:29:110:29:13

All right, let's go.

0:29:130:29:15

Hello!

0:29:150:29:16

Once inside, at first they can't find any sign of the squatters...

0:29:160:29:21

-Where is everybody?

-..until they get through into a second corridor...

0:29:210:29:25

Whoa! Warm in here.

0:29:250:29:27

..where the heating is on full blast and gives the game away.

0:29:270:29:30

Least they've got the heating on.

0:29:300:29:32

Yeah, nice and warm there, ain't you?

0:29:320:29:34

Wakey-wakey! High Court enforcement.

0:29:340:29:37

Enforcement agents, fellas.

0:29:370:29:39

On first impressions,

0:29:390:29:40

it seems like it's going to be a straightforward job.

0:29:400:29:43

There's lots and lots of rooms.

0:29:440:29:47

It is about ten people altogether but they're all aware and they all

0:29:470:29:51

seem quite cooperative. They're all just packing up and going.

0:29:510:29:53

I did see a big pile of suitcases in one room near the stairs as we

0:29:530:29:56

came in, so it wouldn't surprise me if they're pretty much ready to go.

0:29:560:30:00

There is one woman, though, who is starting to kick up a fuss.

0:30:010:30:04

She's not happy about the sheriffs' early morning wake-up call.

0:30:060:30:09

If you don't get on with packing your stuff,

0:30:090:30:11

you're going to be removed without it.

0:30:110:30:13

That's fine, and I have an issue with all these people

0:30:130:30:15

standing here watching me like I've done something wrong.

0:30:150:30:18

Like I said, is there any need for it?

0:30:180:30:20

Right, if you stay here, Angie, with the lady, OK?

0:30:200:30:23

If you just move down a little bit

0:30:230:30:25

and we'll just give you a little bit of space, yeah?

0:30:250:30:27

You pack your stuff up, OK?

0:30:270:30:30

And then we're out of here, yeah?

0:30:300:30:32

Does my council tax or anything like that go on this, by any chance?

0:30:350:30:38

Just curious.

0:30:380:30:39

-No.

-No.

0:30:390:30:40

Now, there's a new one I've not come across before.

0:30:420:30:44

A squatter that pays council tax.

0:30:440:30:46

Further down the corridor,

0:30:480:30:49

another man is also questioning the sheriffs' authority.

0:30:490:30:52

What is going on? You're all leaving.

0:30:540:30:56

You're all going.

0:30:580:30:59

It's not your property, so I suggest you go and pack your stuff

0:30:590:31:03

like everybody else is doing and leave.

0:31:030:31:05

Thankfully, most of the squatters

0:31:080:31:09

are willing to leave without argument.

0:31:090:31:11

Have you got everything?

0:31:130:31:14

Yeah, I take the shoes from downstairs.

0:31:140:31:16

But you've got everything, yeah?

0:31:160:31:18

Because once you go, you can't come back in.

0:31:180:31:20

Apart from the woman, all of the squatters are Eastern Europeans.

0:31:200:31:24

Oi. Stop.

0:31:250:31:27

HE MUMBLES

0:31:280:31:31

They don't want any trouble.

0:31:310:31:33

And although the building's being left in a bit of a state,

0:31:330:31:35

it's still not as bad as many squats they've seen.

0:31:350:31:38

We've seen a lot worse buildings than this, to be fair.

0:31:380:31:41

No holes knocked in walls or anything like that,

0:31:410:31:43

which is always good for the landlord.

0:31:430:31:46

While most of the squatters are now outside,

0:31:460:31:49

one man is taking longer than others to gather his possessions.

0:31:490:31:52

Last male's on the way out now.

0:31:540:31:57

Once he's gone, Lawrence makes a suspicious discovery in the room.

0:31:580:32:02

Halifax Visa debit, a Post Office card and a Capital One credit card.

0:32:030:32:09

He's found a pile of bank cards.

0:32:090:32:12

They all belong to different people with English-sounding names.

0:32:120:32:16

Lawrence thinks the most likely explanation

0:32:160:32:18

is that they've been stolen.

0:32:180:32:21

I think we'll have to hand those in to the local police.

0:32:210:32:24

Everybody's out of the building now

0:32:270:32:29

and now it's just the last little bit.

0:32:290:32:31

There's a few external doors, the last few locks are being changed.

0:32:310:32:35

It's been a good day and it's all been done fairly quickly.

0:32:350:32:38

It's taken just over an hour to get the squatters out

0:32:380:32:41

and secure the building, which will now be handed back

0:32:410:32:44

to its rightful owner.

0:32:440:32:46

It's eight o'clock in the morning,

0:32:520:32:53

and enforcement agent Lawrence Grix is already on the road.

0:32:530:32:57

He's heading into Surrey for an unpaid debt owed by a business

0:32:570:33:01

specialising in eco-friendly heating systems.

0:33:010:33:03

We're down near Guildford today,

0:33:040:33:06

just coming into a place called Gomshall.

0:33:060:33:08

We've got the Green Shop and Jan Aukstolis.

0:33:090:33:14

We're here today for just under £8,500.

0:33:140:33:18

The claimant in the case is Neil Cummings,

0:33:200:33:22

a self-employed builder who came across the company

0:33:220:33:25

after embarking on a labour of love, building his own family home.

0:33:250:33:29

I've built houses for other people,

0:33:310:33:33

but the idea of actually building a house specifically for us

0:33:330:33:36

was a lifelong ambition.

0:33:360:33:38

When we eventually found this plot, it didn't have any gas.

0:33:380:33:41

There's no gas supply, there's no oil here,

0:33:410:33:43

so I decided that I wanted to go the green route.

0:33:430:33:46

After researching his options,

0:33:460:33:48

Neil found a local supplier and installer,

0:33:480:33:51

the Green Shop in Gomshall.

0:33:510:33:53

He went to meet the man in charge, Jan Aukstolis.

0:33:530:33:57

He talked the talk,

0:33:570:33:58

he seemed to certainly know what he was talking about.

0:33:580:34:01

At the heart of the whole system was a wood-burning stove,

0:34:010:34:05

and initially Neil was very pleased with the installation.

0:34:050:34:09

All of the work proceeded well and everything was installed.

0:34:090:34:13

Everything seemed to be fine and above board.

0:34:130:34:16

That was until Neil wanted to add a new feature on to the system,

0:34:160:34:20

and when he couldn't get hold of Mr Aukstolis,

0:34:200:34:23

called in another plumber.

0:34:230:34:24

He came along and had a look at the system that we had here

0:34:240:34:28

for a couple of hours, and he turned round and said,

0:34:280:34:31

"I'm really not happy."

0:34:310:34:32

He said that in his opinion,

0:34:320:34:34

the system didn't have enough safety features within it.

0:34:340:34:37

So Neil had it disconnected.

0:34:390:34:41

When he contacted the manufacturer of one of the other main components

0:34:410:34:45

in his heating system,

0:34:450:34:46

not only did they confirm what the plumber was saying,

0:34:460:34:49

they also forwarded an e-mail they'd sent to Mr Aukstolis.

0:34:490:34:53

And in the e-mail, it basically turned round and said

0:34:530:34:56

that the wood-burning stove used in conjunction

0:34:560:34:59

with this particular system must,

0:34:590:35:01

and must was all in capital letters, "MUST have an in-built quench coil."

0:35:010:35:05

The quench coil is designed to release energy from the system

0:35:050:35:09

in the event of a power cut or safety features failing,

0:35:090:35:12

and without it, he feared he was sitting on a potential time bomb.

0:35:120:35:17

If you can't release the energy, it's going to explode,

0:35:170:35:20

and the idea of actually spending my life savings building this property

0:35:200:35:24

to potentially have, you know,

0:35:240:35:26

my family in a dangerous situation, is scary.

0:35:260:35:30

Neil tried to get in touch with Jan Aukstolis to see what he had to say.

0:35:300:35:35

He didn't reply to any of my text messages, e-mails. I phoned him,

0:35:350:35:39

I went down to the shop, I couldn't get hold of him at all.

0:35:390:35:42

Eventually, Neil decided the only option was to get quotes to rectify

0:35:430:35:47

the work and complete the installation,

0:35:470:35:49

and then take Mr Aukstolis and the Green Shop to court

0:35:490:35:53

to cover the costs.

0:35:530:35:54

When they didn't defend the case, Neil won a default judgment.

0:35:540:35:58

Since then he hasn't paid any money at all,

0:35:580:36:01

so I've decided that I need to take this case further.

0:36:010:36:04

Money's tight, I haven't been able to rectify any of the situation,

0:36:040:36:08

and I won't be able to rectify it until I get any money,

0:36:080:36:10

if I do get any money, back from the sheriffs.

0:36:100:36:14

So hopefully, in their hands, we'll see what they can do.

0:36:140:36:17

Lawrence is en route to the shop,

0:36:250:36:27

and his research in the office has painted a promising picture

0:36:270:36:30

of what he might find.

0:36:300:36:32

It looks quite a reasonably large premises,

0:36:320:36:36

when you look at it on Google,

0:36:360:36:39

with a car park to the rear.

0:36:390:36:40

So hopefully they'll have assets there.

0:36:400:36:44

There is money in wood-burning stoves.

0:36:440:36:46

But Lawrence is foreseeing a potential pitfall.

0:36:480:36:51

Mr Cummings has obtained his writ in the name of the boss personally,

0:36:510:36:55

and the Green Shop, which is just a trading name,

0:36:550:36:58

and so not a legal entity.

0:36:580:37:00

Success this morning may boil down to how exactly

0:37:000:37:03

the business has been set up.

0:37:030:37:06

Lawrence arrives at the Green Shop

0:37:060:37:08

just as some workers are about to get into their vans.

0:37:080:37:11

I'm going to have to try and catch this fella here, I think.

0:37:120:37:15

So there's no hanging about.

0:37:150:37:18

Morning, gents. I'm looking for Jan Aukstolis.

0:37:180:37:22

-Is that you at all?

-No.

0:37:220:37:24

Is he here? Is Mr Aukstolis here?

0:37:240:37:26

Our cameraman retreats to the road

0:37:300:37:32

while Lawrence tries to find out where Mr Aukstolis is,

0:37:320:37:36

but the workers here don't want to wait.

0:37:360:37:40

When they start preparing to leave, Lawrence swings into action...

0:37:400:37:43

..repositioning his van...

0:37:470:37:48

..and blocking the entire entrance to the car park.

0:37:510:37:54

Sorry to have to do this to you, guys.

0:37:550:37:57

I fully appreciate that you're only just trying to earn a living

0:37:570:38:00

and do your job.

0:38:000:38:01

But as their vehicles are sign-written

0:38:020:38:05

and could belong to the debtor,

0:38:050:38:06

Lawrence can't let them leave until he has answers,

0:38:060:38:09

which seem to be hard to come by.

0:38:090:38:12

Mr Aukstolis isn't here.

0:38:120:38:15

The guys that are here say they basically run the place,

0:38:160:38:19

they don't see him very often.

0:38:190:38:21

They've tried contacting him on the phone,

0:38:210:38:23

I've tried contacting him on the phone.

0:38:230:38:25

The three vehicles that I've managed to block in

0:38:250:38:28

are all clear of finance.

0:38:280:38:30

If I can't get hold of him and the guys here can't get hold of him

0:38:300:38:35

then, yeah, I'll basically remove the vehicles.

0:38:350:38:38

But getting hold of Mr Aukstolis

0:38:380:38:40

turns out to be quite simple after all.

0:38:400:38:42

One man who's here is showing more interest in the case.

0:38:420:38:46

Mr Grix, G-R-I-X.

0:38:460:38:48

And Lawrence puts two and two together.

0:38:480:38:51

So, are you Mr Aukstolis, then?

0:38:510:38:53

It is indeed Mr Aukstolis -

0:38:530:38:56

the man who sold Neil his dangerous heating system.

0:38:560:38:59

Lawrence shows him his writ and explains he's here for £8,440.

0:38:590:39:05

Mr Aukstolis tells him nothing here is owned by him,

0:39:050:39:08

but by his business,

0:39:080:39:10

which is registered as The Green Shop Gomshall Limited.

0:39:100:39:13

Lawrence demands proof of ownership,

0:39:150:39:17

but in the end, he doesn't need to see it.

0:39:170:39:20

Perhaps mindful of his staff trapped in the car park

0:39:200:39:23

and unable to get to work,

0:39:230:39:25

Mr Aukstolis manages to come up with some money.

0:39:250:39:28

Lawrence moves his van out of the way and lets them go.

0:39:280:39:32

That didn't go too badly.

0:39:320:39:34

The gentleman there actually was Mr Aukstolis,

0:39:340:39:36

and he's managed to come up with just under £3,500 today,

0:39:360:39:41

and I've put him on a monthly arrangement

0:39:410:39:43

of £1,000 a month for the rest.

0:39:430:39:45

All being well, he should clear his debt in five months.

0:39:460:39:50

He does admit that the limited company owes the money,

0:39:510:39:54

which is basically why he's paid some money today.

0:39:540:39:56

But we'll have to see what happens,

0:39:580:39:59

he may well just stick to his arrangement.

0:39:590:40:02

Down the road in Sussex,

0:40:030:40:04

word of the payment has come as a welcome relief to Neil Cummings.

0:40:040:40:08

Really good news from the sheriffs.

0:40:090:40:11

We've actually finally managed to get hold

0:40:110:40:13

of the first initial payment of just over £3,500,

0:40:130:40:16

so that's come in and that's brilliant.

0:40:160:40:18

So we've already got the new wood-burning stove,

0:40:180:40:20

which is just sitting in place, it's not actually connected.

0:40:200:40:23

Let's just hope that Jan is true to his word

0:40:230:40:26

and honours the agreement and it will be the end to a lot of stress

0:40:260:40:30

and anxiety that we've had over the last year.

0:40:300:40:34

When debtors can't pay on the spot...

0:40:410:40:44

I'm assuming that you haven't got £5,000.

0:40:440:40:47

Oh, dear.

0:40:470:40:48

..the sheriffs won't always remove assets to get your money.

0:40:480:40:51

Goods go for about a fifth of their true value at auction

0:40:510:40:54

and it's often better to agree to a payment plan.

0:40:540:40:57

If you can come up with half of it today...

0:40:570:41:00

Do you reckon you can do 200 a week?

0:41:000:41:02

They'll make a list of assets...

0:41:020:41:04

Ice machine.

0:41:040:41:06

Bar chiller cabinets.

0:41:060:41:07

Television, PlayStation.

0:41:070:41:09

..and a controlled goods agreement is signed,

0:41:090:41:11

making it an offence for anyone else to remove them.

0:41:110:41:15

You sign the form, it acts as security.

0:41:150:41:18

The sheriffs will only return to take the goods

0:41:180:41:21

if the debtor fails to make payments.

0:41:210:41:24

I've signed him up for £1,000 a month.

0:41:240:41:26

Providing you stick to that, you won't hear from us again.

0:41:260:41:28

In Birmingham, Tommy and Craig are still trying to recover debt

0:41:340:41:37

owed by a Mr Ali Akbar.

0:41:370:41:40

He's finally realised that, with a tow truck on the way,

0:41:400:41:43

he needs to come up with more than three grand, sharpish,

0:41:430:41:46

or else his car will be going.

0:41:460:41:49

So far, he's only managed to make offers of part payment,

0:41:490:41:52

which have been rejected.

0:41:520:41:54

But now a family member has got involved

0:41:540:41:56

and is about to throw the sheriffs a curveball.

0:41:560:41:59

The car's yours now, is it?

0:42:010:42:03

When, when did you get it?

0:42:030:42:05

You bought it yesterday, did you?

0:42:050:42:07

Oh, right, so he sold it to you yesterday?

0:42:070:42:10

-How much?

-How much for, my love?

0:42:100:42:12

It is. We need to see evidence.

0:42:120:42:14

Because we need to investigate it, you see, we need...

0:42:140:42:17

We can't just, unfortunately, take your word for it.

0:42:170:42:20

Moments later, Mr Akbar emerges with a change of registered keeper form.

0:42:200:42:24

Right, OK. It's still wet, though, this.

0:42:270:42:30

Craig's having none of it.

0:42:300:42:32

It won't prevent us from removing the vehicle, unfortunately, Ali.

0:42:320:42:35

Yeah, unfortunately...

0:42:380:42:39

We can speak to her, but the car's still going.

0:42:390:42:42

I don't think that's valid, unfortunately.

0:42:420:42:45

If the Akbars want to stop this vehicle being removed,

0:42:450:42:48

they're going to have to do better than that.

0:42:480:42:50

He was claiming that the car was his all the time.

0:42:500:42:52

All of a sudden, he's come out with the bottom half of the V5 document,

0:42:520:42:56

saying he's sold it now to his mother or sister.

0:42:560:42:58

Clearly, the indication was it was his car this morning,

0:42:580:43:01

so it won't prevent us from removing the vehicle today.

0:43:010:43:04

But the Akbars aren't giving up just yet.

0:43:040:43:07

The plot thickens when Craig

0:43:070:43:09

overhears a conversation in the doorway.

0:43:090:43:12

If you want to transfer the money into his account, that's fine.

0:43:120:43:15

I said, if you want to transfer the money into his...

0:43:150:43:18

Well, I can.

0:43:180:43:20

Well, it is my business.

0:43:220:43:23

But if they're thinking of making a bank transfer to complete the sale

0:43:260:43:29

now, it would be too late.

0:43:290:43:32

If there's a money transfer just happening just now,

0:43:320:43:35

that's going to be irrelevant because we've already took control

0:43:350:43:37

of the vehicle prior to it being sold.

0:43:370:43:40

Meanwhile, Mr Akbar has reappeared on the driveway,

0:43:400:43:43

and to Tommy's surprise, gets behind the wheel of another car.

0:43:430:43:47

Strange, isn't it?

0:43:470:43:48

Yeah, unusual. He seems to be going.

0:43:490:43:52

Perhaps he's gone to get some money.

0:43:520:43:54

Perhaps not. But the tow truck's now well on its way, so Tommy and Craig

0:43:540:43:59

take the opportunity to do a damage report on his car.

0:43:590:44:03

It's been pranged, that has.

0:44:030:44:05

Driver's side, rear wing.

0:44:050:44:07

Time is running out for Mr Akbar,

0:44:070:44:10

who soon returns, but has he come bearing cash?

0:44:100:44:14

You all right? Do we know what we're doing?

0:44:140:44:16

Are we paying it today or not?

0:44:180:44:20

Because they're literally ten minutes away.

0:44:200:44:22

Once it turns up, they're just going to hook it up.

0:44:260:44:29

All right.

0:44:330:44:34

OK, we'll have to remove it, then,

0:44:340:44:36

but we'll leave all the paperwork for you, all right?

0:44:360:44:40

You'll get it back in the same condition it is now if you pay the

0:44:400:44:43

full bill, plus the storage costs, plus the removal fee for today.

0:44:430:44:46

If it's not, then obviously you can take them to court for damages.

0:44:460:44:51

Mr Akbar seems to have given up any hope of hanging onto his car today

0:44:510:44:55

and as the tow truck arrives to take it away, hands over his keys.

0:44:550:45:00

Are you going to get it back? Are you...in seven days?

0:45:000:45:03

-No?

-Do you want to take your stuff out first?

0:45:030:45:05

Have you got any personal stuff in there, yeah?

0:45:050:45:07

Yeah, get your stuff out, mate.

0:45:070:45:09

Tommy removes the clamp.

0:45:090:45:11

Job's a good'un.

0:45:140:45:16

And the car's driven onto the back of the truck.

0:45:160:45:18

So, yeah, at least he's given the keys up.

0:45:180:45:21

Makes it a lot easier, both for himself and for us.

0:45:210:45:24

If it does go to auction, then at least they've got the key to it,

0:45:240:45:27

which increases its value.

0:45:270:45:29

Yeah, it's seven days and then they

0:45:330:45:36

have to put it into a public auction.

0:45:360:45:38

You can.

0:45:400:45:41

Suddenly, it seems Mr Akbar wants to buy his car back at auction,

0:45:410:45:45

though it'd make a lot more sense to pay now,

0:45:450:45:48

and just as the truck prepares to drive off,

0:45:480:45:51

that's exactly what he starts talking about.

0:45:510:45:53

If you've got the full balance now... You need it this second.

0:45:560:46:00

It's gone.

0:46:040:46:05

Mr Akbar has missed his chance.

0:46:080:46:11

The sheriffs leave their paperwork.

0:46:110:46:13

-There you go, my friend.

-All right?

0:46:130:46:15

Take it easy. Take care of yourself, yeah?

0:46:150:46:17

-Ta-ra.

-See you later, mate.

-And their work is done.

0:46:170:46:20

He tried his best to negotiate his way out of...

0:46:200:46:22

us not taking the vehicle today by trying to transfer ownership.

0:46:220:46:25

Even by his own admission, he said, "You've got to try it."

0:46:250:46:28

But, unfortunately, it didn't work this time.

0:46:280:46:30

Yeah, it's just a classic case of

0:46:300:46:32

don't bury your head in the sand, because we won't go away.

0:46:320:46:35

The sheriffs are on their way.

0:46:350:46:38

Later the same day, Mr Akbar paid the balance in full

0:46:380:46:41

and his car was subsequently returned.

0:46:410:46:45

Back in Shoreham, Kate Killick has finally got the money she was owed.

0:46:450:46:49

It's just really, really nice to know

0:46:490:46:52

that the law is there to help people out.

0:46:520:46:55

I couldn't be happier.

0:46:550:46:56

You know, it was quite a long process.

0:46:560:46:58

It's been over a year, but we got there in the end.

0:46:580:47:01

The sheriffs are often called upon to visit companies

0:47:120:47:14

with cash flow problems who are struggling to pay their bills.

0:47:140:47:18

Jobs like these can be tricky,

0:47:190:47:20

as the sheriffs are tasked with getting payments for their clients,

0:47:200:47:24

but they'd rather not put anyone out of business in the process.

0:47:240:47:28

This morning, enforcement agent Lawrence Grix is visiting

0:47:280:47:31

a company in Kent.

0:47:310:47:33

We're in the Garden of England today, just near Tonbridge.

0:47:330:47:36

Going to a company called MetCon Sustainable Building Systems.

0:47:360:47:40

MetCon Sustainable Building Ltd has been taken to court

0:47:400:47:43

by a supplier which sold them some steel.

0:47:430:47:46

They didn't defend the case, and so a default judgment was awarded.

0:47:460:47:50

MetCon now owes £5,934.

0:47:500:47:54

It is a trading address.

0:47:570:47:59

And it's a limited company,

0:47:590:48:01

so hopefully there'll be some assets there

0:48:010:48:03

and we'll be able to get this resolved.

0:48:030:48:06

But as he pulls up outside the premises, Lawrence is disappointed.

0:48:060:48:10

First impressions, it doesn't look like they've got a lot here,

0:48:110:48:14

to be honest.

0:48:140:48:15

There's a pick-up that's sign-written.

0:48:160:48:18

Lawrence, however, is never one to prejudge a situation,

0:48:230:48:27

and heads inside in search of a manager.

0:48:270:48:29

Hello there, sir. Is this MetCon Sustainable Building Systems?

0:48:330:48:37

Lawrence is ushered through to a warehouse...

0:48:370:48:39

Who's in charge at the moment?

0:48:390:48:41

..where he explains to the staff the purpose of his visit.

0:48:410:48:44

I'm asking who's in charge here at the moment.

0:48:440:48:47

I've got a High Court writ against this company.

0:48:470:48:50

Pretty soon he's handed the director on the phone.

0:48:510:48:54

Hello, sir.

0:48:540:48:55

The director, it seems, knows all about the debt.

0:48:550:48:58

He says the company owes money to a number of people and is

0:48:580:49:02

trying to agree a repayment plan.

0:49:020:49:04

You've sent a proposal for a company voluntary arrangement?

0:49:040:49:06

That's a legally-binding agreement which helps a company with

0:49:060:49:09

cash-flow problems gradually pay off its debts while continuing to trade.

0:49:090:49:14

Such an arrangement would prevent Lawrence enforcing today.

0:49:150:49:19

But it has to be approved by 75% of the company's creditors first,

0:49:190:49:23

and that hasn't yet happened.

0:49:230:49:25

Now that you've told me that, it actually doesn't put you

0:49:260:49:29

in a better position, it puts you in a worse position.

0:49:290:49:31

It means I've got to act today to secure this debt for our claimant.

0:49:310:49:36

The company may owe money to a number of parties,

0:49:360:49:39

but Lawrence is working for only one of them.

0:49:390:49:41

What I'm going to do, because there's so much stuff here

0:49:410:49:44

and it's difficult to remove, I am now going to call a locksmith

0:49:440:49:47

and I'm going to secure the premises.

0:49:470:49:49

I'm going to change the locks,

0:49:490:49:50

secure the premises and take control of goods on the premises.

0:49:500:49:54

That's my only option.

0:49:540:49:56

Unless, of course, the director is able to pay instead.

0:49:560:49:59

The amount due is £5,934.69.

0:49:590:50:06

If I end up having to secure the premises,

0:50:060:50:09

basically there's going to be another £1,800 plus VAT

0:50:090:50:12

go onto that.

0:50:120:50:13

OK, then, sir. Thanks, bye-bye.

0:50:150:50:18

Apparently he'd sent a letter to our creditor

0:50:190:50:22

proposing an arrangement last Friday.

0:50:220:50:24

But they've sent the same letter to all the different creditors,

0:50:240:50:27

which basically, from my point of view, escalates it,

0:50:270:50:30

because it now means that I've got to protect our creditor's interest.

0:50:300:50:36

And that means getting paid first before anyone else

0:50:360:50:39

gets a slice of the pie.

0:50:390:50:40

I got the gentleman here to phone the director again,

0:50:400:50:43

and he said, "Give him another 15 minutes."

0:50:430:50:45

It's been another 15 minutes, he's trying him again now.

0:50:450:50:48

He's also tried to get a shareholder,

0:50:480:50:51

who apparently is the money man,

0:50:510:50:53

but he's not answering his phone at the moment.

0:50:530:50:56

Not been able to get him, no?

0:50:560:50:58

Although the company seem keen to pay,

0:51:010:51:03

Lawrence is once again forced to consider his options.

0:51:030:51:06

But while he could carry out his threat of securing the premises,

0:51:060:51:10

he's not confident it would result in getting his claimant's money.

0:51:100:51:13

There's not much in the way of assets here,

0:51:130:51:15

it's mainly raw materials.

0:51:150:51:16

There is a machine for folding the steel, folds it into a

0:51:160:51:21

three-quarter box, which apparently they're about £200,000 new.

0:51:210:51:25

But obviously this isn't new,

0:51:250:51:27

and unless there's somebody who specifically wants to buy it,

0:51:270:51:30

we'd probably be looking at scrap value for it.

0:51:300:51:32

But then, finally, Lawrence gets another call,

0:51:320:51:35

-this time from the company's shareholder.

-Hello, sir.

0:51:350:51:38

I have got to execute this writ to its fullest NOW.

0:51:380:51:43

If this isn't paid, I'm going to be pulling the shutters down

0:51:430:51:46

and changing the locks.

0:51:460:51:47

It doesn't matter where you are in the world, sir, if you've got

0:51:470:51:50

the funds to make a payment, it can be done from anywhere.

0:51:500:51:53

It seems the message has sunk in.

0:51:530:51:55

So he said he's not in a position to actually deal with it himself

0:51:550:51:59

but he's going to phone his daughter.

0:51:590:52:01

I'm a bit more confident there's going to be some money coming now.

0:52:010:52:04

He apologised for the delay.

0:52:040:52:06

I'll give him a few more minutes

0:52:060:52:08

just to make a couple of phone calls.

0:52:080:52:10

Hopefully it's going to get resolved shortly.

0:52:100:52:12

It does. Lawrence soon confirms with his office

0:52:140:52:17

that a payment has been made.

0:52:170:52:19

Brilliant, cheers. Bye.

0:52:190:52:22

I shall issue a receipt.

0:52:240:52:26

There you go. Thanks very much.

0:52:260:52:28

I'm pleased, certainly for the guys here, that I didn't have to...

0:52:280:52:32

didn't have to lock the doors.

0:52:320:52:34

Cheers, mate. See you later.

0:52:340:52:35

And you.

0:52:370:52:39

Lawrence is on his way,

0:52:400:52:42

and the steel supplier who hadn't been paid has now got its money.

0:52:420:52:45

MetCon Sustainable Building Systems Ltd's application

0:52:470:52:50

to enter a company voluntary arrangement with its creditors

0:52:500:52:53

has now been successful.

0:52:530:52:55

Today, enforcement agents Tommy and Craig

0:53:060:53:08

have been working in the Midlands, and in the middle of the afternoon,

0:53:080:53:11

their third call of the day leads them into the city.

0:53:110:53:15

Off to a limited company called Zebra Worldwide Machinery Ltd.

0:53:150:53:21

It's run by a Simon Graham Winter-Moore.

0:53:210:53:23

The claimant is a customer who wasn't happy with a lathe he bought.

0:53:230:53:27

He took the matter to court and won a judgment against the company,

0:53:270:53:31

but he didn't receive his money.

0:53:310:53:33

Two months down the line,

0:53:330:53:35

the sheriffs are hoping to collect £5,834.

0:53:350:53:39

The sheriffs park up and ring the bell.

0:53:420:53:44

DOORBELL RINGS

0:53:440:53:47

Big old place, isn't it?

0:53:470:53:49

It's a huge unit, but the shutters are down

0:53:490:53:52

and there's no sight or sound of heavy machinery.

0:53:520:53:56

Can't hear any noise.

0:53:560:53:58

Just when they're beginning to suspect this visit is a lost cause,

0:54:000:54:04

the door opens.

0:54:040:54:05

Hello, sir. Trying to get in contact with Mr Simon Graham Winter-Moore.

0:54:070:54:11

My name's Mr Wild, I'm a High Court enforcement agent.

0:54:120:54:15

OK, so I need to leave the door open.

0:54:170:54:18

Yes, I have to. No, sir.

0:54:180:54:21

It's a commercial property. We can force entry if we need to.

0:54:220:54:25

-Yes, we have.

-We've got a court order to come in.

0:54:270:54:30

Are you Mr Winter-Moore?

0:54:300:54:32

I'll wait here.

0:54:320:54:34

The door needs to stay open. We need to speak to him.

0:54:340:54:36

Otherwise, we'll have to force entry and get the police.

0:54:360:54:40

-No, we won't, sir.

-We'll stay here until he comes down.

0:54:400:54:42

That's fine.

0:54:420:54:44

The last thing the sheriffs want is to get locked out.

0:54:440:54:47

Although they could legally force entry if they needed to,

0:54:470:54:50

it's a situation they'd rather avoid.

0:54:500:54:53

We weren't going to let the door be shut on us.

0:54:530:54:56

We'll be polite to these people as much as we can,

0:54:560:54:58

but we are here with the authority of the courts to do our job.

0:54:580:55:02

For now, they are happy to wait at the entrance

0:55:020:55:04

where they've got a decent view of the assets.

0:55:040:55:07

This lot, they're lathes, aren't they?

0:55:070:55:09

They're pillar drills.

0:55:090:55:11

That looks like a guillotine cutter.

0:55:110:55:13

That's a scrubber, a floor polisher thing.

0:55:130:55:16

Meanwhile, a man emerges from the office upstairs.

0:55:160:55:20

-Hello, sir.

-Hello, sir.

0:55:200:55:21

-Mr Winter-Moore?

-Can I help you? Hold on, that's a camera crew.

0:55:210:55:24

It is indeed the company boss,

0:55:240:55:27

but on spotting our camera he's less than pleased.

0:55:270:55:30

We're asked to leave and it's left to Tommy and Craig inside

0:55:300:55:33

to explain that it's time for Zebra to pay its debts.

0:55:330:55:37

The answer isn't exactly what they expected.

0:55:370:55:40

The boss says he's already paid and produces proof

0:55:400:55:44

of a recent bank transfer.

0:55:440:55:46

On closer inspection, it appears he's made a payment

0:55:460:55:49

direct to the claimant's solicitor,

0:55:490:55:51

but it's only for the amount owed

0:55:510:55:53

before the case was transferred to the High Court.

0:55:530:55:56

The director is not happy at all because he's saying

0:55:560:55:58

the payment he made, he thought it was going to resolve the case.

0:55:580:56:02

Obviously, court action has been taken

0:56:020:56:04

and that's why we're here today,

0:56:040:56:06

and he needs to deal with us, but he's not happy at all.

0:56:060:56:09

Because he didn't pay to begin with,

0:56:100:56:13

Mr Winter-Moore now owes another £868.

0:56:130:56:16

He's not happy.

0:56:180:56:20

Nevertheless, he reaches for his credit card,

0:56:200:56:23

and the sheriffs are soon on their way,

0:56:230:56:25

satisfied they've carried out the Court's wishes.

0:56:250:56:29

Got a bit fruity on the door with one of the employees

0:56:290:56:31

but managed to put the foot in the door, secure the access.

0:56:310:56:36

The director produced evidence that he paid direct

0:56:360:56:38

to the claimant's legal representation, just under £5,000.

0:56:380:56:43

So we've checked that out, that's come off the bill,

0:56:430:56:45

leaving a short balance outstanding

0:56:450:56:47

which we have just collected in full.

0:56:470:56:49

It didn't come to listing down the company's goods,

0:56:510:56:55

but aside from the valuable machines they first saw,

0:56:550:56:57

there was one asset inside that made quite an impression.

0:56:570:57:00

Oh, yeah, the zebra head.

0:57:020:57:03

There was a zebra head mounted in his office.

0:57:030:57:06

-Huge.

-Quite impressive.

0:57:060:57:07

But for now, the boss's machines and taxidermy are safe.

0:57:070:57:11

The sheriffs are leaving with payment in full

0:57:110:57:14

and the claimant has got their money back.

0:57:140:57:16

Mr Winter-Moore told us...

0:57:180:57:20

Sheriffs Tommy and Craig confront the lodger who left owing three months rent - but he's very reluctant to face the facts. Lawrence and Kev track down the garage that botched a repair on a valuable sports car - but can they find assets to pay the debt? Sheriff Ken Warby meets a debtor who doesn't want to admit who he really is, and it's not going to be easy to get access to a factory where the sheriffs must enforce their high court writ.