Series following high court enforcement officers. Sheriffs Tommy and Craig confront the lodger who left owing three months rent.
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Meet the sheriffs.
My name's Mr Grix. My colleague and I are enforcement agents.
-It's do with a High Court order.
-They work for the High Court.
And if it says you're owed money, it's their job to go and get it.
I'm here for £6,072.18.
They can demand payment on the spot.
I'm here for the full balance.
How are you going to pay it?
Or remove assets instead.
The car will be going unless you can pay it.
You'll have a week to pay in full before it gets sold at auction.
Obstructing their work can be a criminal offence.
I wouldn't do that if I were you.
The door needs to stay open.
Every year in England and Wales,
unpaid debts totalling more than £80 million
are recovered by the sheriffs.
Kate Killick is owed three months' rent after her student lodger
upped and left without warning.
He rang me one day to say he had been kicked off the course
and basically said, "Tough,"
and had no sense that he was ever going to pay the money back.
But when Tommy and Craig pay the man a visit,
he's reluctant to face the facts.
The car's not going anywhere, I'll tell you that now.
You need to address this, Mr Akbar, otherwise it will be going.
A repair to Tony Grace's pride and joy wasn't up to scratch.
I felt angry that they'd not done the job properly.
But will the sheriffs be able to find enough assets
to get his money back?
This is a remapping device.
About £3,000-£4,000 brand-new.
Ken meets a debtor with an identity crisis.
He's going in roundabout ways, trying to palm me off.
And the sheriffs face resistance on a factory floor.
-Can you move?
-On a commercial property,
we can force entry if we need to, sir.
-It's a court order, sir.
-But you ain't got to come in.
In the Midlands, enforcement agents Tommy Coyle and Craig Wild are up
early. They're in pursuit of a debtor who Craig is convinced has
been avoiding him, and they're about to knock on his door.
We're off to go and see a Mr Ali Akbar,
who has had several visits from ourselves and notifications have
been left on every single time.
He's failed to respond to it.
Mr Akbar has been taken to court for unpaid rent.
The claimant is Kate Killick,
a beauty therapist and a single mum with two children.
She first met Mr Akbar when she was hoping to make some extra cash by
renting out a spare room in the family home.
The extra income is really important,
because it's whether or not you have a really nice Christmas,
you haven't got to worry about presents for the children.
I don't think anyone really wants a stranger living in their house, but,
you know, sometimes you have to do things.
Kate lives in Shoreham in Sussex,
and to find a lodger, she contacted the local airport.
They have a flying school and are often looking for host families to
accommodate trainee pilots.
The college put her in touch with Mr Akbar, and she agreed to take him in.
Yeah, when I first met Ali he just seemed like a reasonably nice
I think he was 20 or 21.
Initially he was paying £125 a week, with breakfast,
but he never got up for breakfast, so I just dropped it to 100,
it seemed fairer.
And in many ways Mr Akbar was the ideal lodger.
He was hardly ever here.
He did go out every evening and he didn't get home till the early hours
of the morning,
and when I left for work in the morning he was still in bed,
so I never really saw him. It was perfect, really,
from that point of view.
What wasn't so perfect was that after several months,
he began to fall behind with his rent.
But at first, Kate wasn't worried.
When I questioned him,
he said his mum was out the country and he'd have to wait till she got
back in the country and he'd get the rent.
And because she'd paid so much for these college courses and he's got
another year or so, you know,
I just thought that they'd be good for the money.
But after Kate hadn't received her rent for three months,
Mr Akbar suddenly pulled the plug on their arrangement.
He rang me one day to say he'd gone into college
and he'd been kicked off the course.
So he'd literally packed his stuff up and gone,
and basically said, "Tough," I wouldn't be able to get
the rent money, the arrears.
He just appeared to not even have any sense of responsibility
or that he was ever going to pay the money back.
I did say I would go through the small claims court and he just
basically said, "Good luck with that."
For Kate, it was an upsetting end to the relationship.
I am very angry with Ali,
because you welcome someone into your home and treat them almost like
a member of the family,
give them a lot of trust and believe in their honesty,
and they let you down.
And it's a lot of money to lose, £1,500.
So, just as she'd promised to do,
Kate pursued Mr Akbar through the courts.
There was a court date set to explain his side and he didn't turn up.
A default judgment was awarded in her favour,
but Kate suspected that wouldn't be the end of it.
Just because someone's told they've got to pay you the money,
they're not going to do it.
So I went online to see what my options were,
and that's when I found out about the sheriffs.
It's now down to the sheriffs to get back her lost rent,
plus costs and fees.
100%, the sheriffs are my last hope,
because I know he's not going to pay the money.
He doesn't think there's a legal way that I can get the money,
so he's going to have a surprise.
In Birmingham, enforcement agents Tommy and Craig are arriving at
Mr Akbar's home.
We've noted a vehicle a couple of times that has been there,
it's a sporty Vauxhall.
The DVLA check has come back on that vehicle -
the registered keeper is down to him.
So today's job is to go there, knock the door again, if the car's there,
we'll clamp it straight away.
And if he wants to pay it then that's fine, we'll deal with that,
and if not, unfortunately his car's got to go.
The sheriffs approach Mr Akbar's house with anticipation,
their eyes peeled for the prize asset.
-There it is, that white car there.
-That's his car?
-That's his car.
I'll park behind it, then.
That's really good, look.
There's the white car, there's the VXR.
Tommy blocks the car in
and they get straight to work.
-Right, that's on.
But, just like Craig's previous visits, there's no answer.
HE CONTINUES KNOCKING
-Mr Akbar, it's Mr Wild from the sheriff's office.
If you fail to come to the door,
we'll have to deal with the court order by removing the Astra.
This is what I get all the time here, just no answer.
They're in, but they just don't answer the door.
And after a few more minutes of trying with no response,
Craig sets the wheels in motion.
I'm just going to phone the tow truck now.
When we clamp a vehicle and immobilise it, we have to wait
two hours, giving them a chance, really, to resolve it,
even though we've been knocking at the door.
It normally takes well over an hour for the transport to get here,
so that's why Craig's organising it now.
Cheers, thanks a lot, bye-bye.
Contractors are all booked now,
so the cost of that will go on top of their bill.
In our experience, once the tow truck turns up with its amber lights
flashing and the engine revving,
that usually brings them to the door.
This does happen sometimes,
they just completely go to ground inside and they won't come out until
the actual transport arrives to take the vehicle, and then someone may
come to the door saying, "We didn't know nothing about it and want to
"resolve this," and it's too late, normally.
They have to find a large sum of money very quickly or it'll be going
on the back of a truck and away.
But no sooner has Tommy spoken than a young man walks out of the house.
-How's it going?
Mr Akbar, is it?
Mr Wild from the sheriff's office.
They've sent us out to obviously execute this court order.
Because you owe the money, there's a High Court order.
The court thinks you do.
Mr Akbar, it seems, is in denial.
Well, unfortunately, Mr Akbar, all letters have been left
for your attention, you've failed to deal with it,
so they've sent us out to remove the car today.
You haven't, sir. The court say different.
Well, you've had paperwork hand-delivered by the agent here.
No problem at all.
Craig obliges and shows Mr Akbar his writ.
And that's the commandment of the courts to endorse and obviously
take control of your assets today.
Faced with the documents, Mr Akbar finally has a moment of realisation.
Penny's dropped now, has it?
It's already been to court, sir. No, it's already been to court.
Exactly, she's gone to court because...
I'm not mad, blud. I'm not mad.
I'm not a bailiff, no, I'm a High Court enforcement agent.
I just explained it to you, I'm a High Court enforcement agent,
I've been here at least three times, left letters for you,
you've failed to respond to that.
Despite seeing the court order,
it seems Mr Akbar is unwilling to recognise the sheriff's authority.
Because the law says and the court say
we've got to come here to see you.
And if you don't deal with it, we've got to deal with it for you.
We don't want to do that. We'd much rather get paid and be on our way.
What makes you think it's not going to go?
You need to address this, Mr Akbar, otherwise it WILL be going.
The car will be going unless you can pay it.
That's fine. But the law says you've got seven days from today,
once your assets have been removed. We'll start doing the paperwork now,
you've got the seven days to seek your own legal advice,
try and raise the money and if you're successful,
then you're entitled to your goods back.
Mr Akbar clearly doesn't want to pay, but it looks like the sheriff's
ultimatum of removing the car is finally sinking in.
After briefly heading inside to mull it over,
he returns and he's changed his tune.
It has to be the full balance, the reason for that is...
You could have before.
We don't have many options.
Full amount or let the vehicle go, it doesn't matter whether you
let it go or not, it will go, and you'll get seven days.
That's all we can do for you.
It's 20 to nine now, you've got
until quarter past ten, an hour and a half.
If you want to stop the vehicle going.
-No problem at all, Mr Akbar.
Mr Akbar's offer of part payment has come too late. His previous
failure to engage with Craig doesn't fill the sheriffs with confidence
about the prospect of him sticking to a payment plan,
so with a decent asset sitting in front of them,
it's got to be the whole lot.
The defendant has indicated he might get some money, but the time is
ticking and we told him the deadline to get that money to us.
We've also told him that he has incurred the extra cost
of the contractor, because we've commenced them on their way.
So, unfortunately, it's been a very expensive day for Mr Akbar.
As they wait it out in the van,
Mr Akbar again comes to speak to them, and he's got a fresh offer.
We can't, it's not a case of us
trying to not be helpful, we do as much as we can,
we leave the vehicle clamped for two hours.
This is clamped.
There's a clamp on the front.
Once again, it's taking a while for reality to sink in.
But with his offer of payment gradually increasing,
Tommy is quietly confident.
Yeah, a bit more positive that time,
could be payment in full coming here. I've got a feeling,
I can feel it in the air, coming down the pipes.
But later on, there's another problem
as the car suddenly appears to have a new owner.
The car's yours now, is it? When did you get it?
Using the County Courts to try to recover money you're owed
One and a half million money claims are made every year
in England and Wales, involving anything from faulty goods
or poor workmanship to unpaid invoices.
Claims can be filed by post or online for a small fee.
Both parties in the case will be asked to submit evidence
and you may have to attend a court hearing.
If you're successful, a County Court Judgment, or CCJ,
will be issued against the debtor, and if they still don't pay,
that's when you call the sheriffs.
Enforcement agent Ken Warby is no mug,
and today his nose to sniff out a tall story is going to come in handy.
He's on his way to Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire
in search of a local businessman.
We are going to visit someone called Mr Rostami,
trading as LJ's Nightclub.
Mr Ebi Rostami's been sued by a woman who was injured
after slipping in his club. A court's ordered him to pay, but he hasn't,
so it's Ken's job to collect £5,213,
including costs and fees.
It turns out Ken is no stranger to the nightclub scene himself.
Give me a half of shandy, and...
I can pull a few shapes on the dance floor, absolutely.
But sadly we won't get to see that today,
as it seems the nightclub has shut down.
We was there a couple of weeks ago, and that's empty.
Sheriffs are permitted to visit any address where they believe
the debtor may have assets,
and they've been told Mr Rostami also runs a cafe.
This second business could be the key to Ken getting his claimant's money.
He reaches Aylesbury,
..and heads into town on foot, passing the nightclub on the way.
Just checking to see no-one's moved back in there,
but it is as it was a couple of weeks ago.
Off to the caff, and hopefully our guy is there.
The cafe is just down the road, and Ken heads in.
Hello. I wanted to speak to Mr Rostami.
He's the owner, yeah?
I need to speak to him urgently.
Can someone get hold of him?
The barwoman heads off to see if she can track down Mr Rostami,
and shortly afterwards a man appears from the back.
It's Mr Rostami I want to speak to.
Sorry, are you a... are you a manager here?
In fact, although Ken has no way of knowing it, this is Mr Rostami,
and he's being somewhat economical with the truth.
He's not here?
Well, you need to get him on the phone,
because I need to speak to him urgently, thank you.
Mr Rostami walks off, and although he doesn't know the full story,
Ken smells a rat.
Well, this is interesting. I think this guy, in a roundabout way,
is trying to palm me off to someone else.
But first impressions, yeah, plenty of assets in here, so, um...
..we'll wait and see.
It's ten minutes since Mr Rostami disappeared
before a new member of staff comes to speak to Ken,
and now it seems the story has changed.
Right. We were informed that the guy owned this as well.
Right, OK. Did he used to own this, then?
Right. I need to speak to the owner,
because I've got a High Court writ of control,
which gives me authority to remove goods from here in lieu of
an outstanding amount that he owes.
So you need to make some phone calls
and get him or her down here straight away.
So while one staff member thinks Mr Rostami owns the cafe,
another seems to know nothing about it.
Ken's not sure what exactly is going on,
but he knows better than to take the barman's word for it.
"He doesn't own this, Michelle owns this."
Well, I'm not going to go away on that basis.
I need to speak to the supposed owner or new owner of this place,
and I need some proof that she is the owner here.
Soon enough, a woman turns up who appears to be a manager.
Are you Michelle?
Our cameraman obliges and steps out onto the street.
Ken follows shortly afterwards,
and it seems Michelle has told him the same thing as the barman.
She just confirms that he shut the nightclub down, this guy,
and he has nothing to do with this place.
I said, "I need to see some proof that you are the sole owner of this place."
She said, "Well, it's going through."
And then I said, "Is your name on the business rates?"
She said, "No, it's still his name."
I said, "You need to find this money and find it all,
"because I will be removing your goods."
So we're going to wait and see.
She's gone to make a few phone calls.
I'm just going to get back in there and
tough this one out, I think.
If Mr Rostami has indeed sold the business to this Michelle,
it must've been fairly recently.
There's even still a job advert in the window with his name and mobile
number on it, not to mention his earlier appearance behind the bar.
Ken is not going to walk away from this one in a hurry.
And soon enough, there is an offer of payment.
She said that she can't come up with the full amount of money but she can
come up with £2,000 and she has offered to clear the debt in three weeks.
So hopefully that will be good enough for the client.
The news is she is actually, um...
Mr Rostami's ex-wife,
so that's the connection. So...
Dig a little bit deeper and we always get the truth in the end.
Ken heads back in,
where he persuades Michelle to part with a further £213 up front,
leaving a neat £3,000 to pay over three weeks.
Ken's confident she'll make good on her promise.
I'm pretty sure they're going to have the funds.
It's quite a good result, really,
because originally I was given the story
the guy had nothing to do with her place any more and that isn't quite the case,
so a good result for the client, on to the next job.
Following filming, the debt owed by Mr Rostami was paid in full.
The young woman who was injured in LJ's nightclub
has now got the money awarded to her by the court.
Enforcement agents Lawrence Grix and Kev McNally are on the road.
They're heading to Bishop's Stortford in Hertfordshire
with a writ against a car garage.
Today's debtor, though, is not the normal, run-of-the-mill garage,
and the vehicle at the centre of the dispute is no everyday car.
We're going to see Porsche Dynamics Ltd.
The money they owe is £1,658
and the debt is relating to some work they did.
It's actually for a gearbox gasket replacement.
The claimant in the case is heating engineer Tony Grace,
a lifelong Porsche enthusiast
and the proud owner of a Dolphin Grey model.
I've always had Porsches. I've always had a passion for them.
I like the engine in the back and the sound of them.
They're not overstated, the Porsches,
but the 966 Turbo, it's the best one out of all of them.
It's such a fast car and good fun, you know.
But even the finest engineering isn't without its flaws,
and one day, Tony discovered his beloved car
had sprung a leak in its gearbox.
So he looked around for a suitable specialist and someone he knew
recommended Porsche Dynamics Ltd.
When I first saw the garage, it seemed OK.
I wasn't mad on the guy.
He didn't seem as knowledgeable as other people that I've used,
but you can be wrong on that,
so I wouldn't hold that against him, you know.
The man said the garage could fix the problem and charged Tony £700,
but it didn't seem to make any difference.
I kept taking it back and forward.
I don't know whether they misdiagnosed it,
but every time I got it back, it was leaking.
So, in the end, I took it to a garage.
I got it up on the ramp, and when I looked,
they'd used a sealant on it and it was probably about six inches long,
and I thought, "You can't do that on a car like that!"
That's not really going to stop the pressured leak on the oil.
Even I know that and I'm not a mechanic.
Tony's final confirmation that he hadn't got the service he'd paid for
came when the second garage made the repair he'd requested all along.
He changed the gasket within five hours.
He'd done a really good job and, touch wood,
I've never had a problem with it.
the other people didn't do the gasket.
And that's when Tony began to get annoyed.
Because I had to take it somewhere else and pay again,
I've sort of had to pay double,
and I've thought, well, that's not right.
If I pay for something that's cost me 700 quid
and then I've got to pay again...
I felt angry that they'd not done the job properly, really.
Tony got in touch with Porsche Dynamics Ltd to complain,
and initially, it sounded like they were keen
to get the matter resolved.
He said, "Oh, yeah. We'll give you your money back."
So he didn't argue at first.
But this went on for weeks and weeks.
In the end, I had no alternative but to sort of take it further.
Tony took the company to court
and won his case when they didn't offer a defence.
They haven't paid.
Now he's escalated the case to the sheriffs.
If they don't get nowhere, I'll just have to accept it.
Lawrence and Kev are on their way to the debtor garage
and it seems they and Tony have a lot in common.
Rather than tactics,
the top conversational topic is the finer points of Porsche.
I had one a few years ago, now.
I had it for a long time. I loved it.
If I had had the money, I would have had one when I was younger.
I probably wouldn't now, to be honest.
I'm getting to the time of life where I don't want to be
getting down onto the level of a tea tray to get into my car.
The sheriffs arrive at the industrial estate
they're looking for and the debtor company isn't hard to spot.
-There it is.
-The Porsche was a bit of a giveaway.
That's how I roll.
Like a ninja.
The sheriffs head inside in search of £1,600.
My name's Mr Grix.
My colleague and I are enforcement agents.
We're here with a High Court writ of control against Porsche Dynamics Ltd
in favour of Mr AJ Grace.
-We're ordered here today by the court to take control
of goods to the value of £1,658.02 to clear this debt.
The only way to prevent further action is to pay in full.
At this point, the man asks our cameraman to leave,
while the conversation continues inside.
The debtor says he's got plenty of work but cash flow's a problem
and so he can only raise £400,
with the remainder to be paid over a period of weeks.
But to go on a payment arrangement,
Lawrence wants at least half the debt cleared today,
and he'd need to take control of goods on the premises as security,
and that's where there's a problem.
It seems Porsche Dynamics Ltd has another unpaid debt,
and a different enforcement agent has already called
and had first dibs on everything here.
They've actually listed and got an inventory of goods
they've taken down into their possession.
So we've got to find other assets that they haven't taken control of.
So, while the boss calls around to see if he can raise any more money,
the sheriffs are on a treasure hunt for any assets that are left.
Predictably, the cars are all owned by customers,
so Lawrence and Kev are focusing on the garage equipment.
And so far, it's hardly proving to be a gold mine.
As of now, there's only one diagnostics bit of kit
that's worth... probably worth a couple of grand.
We're just seeing what else there is.
Most of the stuff's on finance as well.
So he's getting the finance documentation together, as well.
We'll get a result of sorts on this job.
It just depends. It depends what it is.
It soon becomes clear that the boss can't raise any more money.
The sheriffs have little option but to refuse his offer of £400
and remove anything they can find which hasn't already been bagged
by the other enforcement agent.
45 minutes later, they are out the door with goods in hand.
This is a remapping device,
I would guess about £3,000-£4,000, brand-new.
This is a snap-on bit of diagnostic kit.
Brand-new, this would probably be £3,000-£4,000.
At auction, you'd probably get half of that.
It may not be the Crown Jewels,
but it should raise enough at auction
to cover Porsche Dynamics' debt.
That's if the man doesn't come up with the money first
and within seven days.
I think he'll potentially buy it back.
He'll try and get the money together to buy it back
before it gets sold. Hopefully.
In fact, the boss never did make any payment at all
and his equipment has been listed for auction.
The claimant, Tony Grace, should get his money back any day now
and is delighted to see the matter finally coming to an end.
Yeah. Good news. Probably, with the money,
I'll probably end up spending it on the dog.
She's got a bad foot.
It's nice to have it come to an end and put it to bed,
and then forget about it and move on.
Life's for living.
Porsche Dynamics Ltd told us that...
It's before dawn and the sheriffs are gathering in Southend in Essex.
There's lights on up in the property,
so we need to be really quiet.
They're here to evict a group of squatters from a nearby building.
If the window's open, me and Jack go through the window.
If the door opens easy, then in through the door.
It's a commercial property which has been vacant for a while,
and it's thought about a dozen squatters have moved in.
The owner wants them out so he can renovate the building.
He's got a writ of possession which the sheriffs are about to enforce.
On this occasion, getting in proves to be straightforward
as the window opens easily.
Soon followed by the door.
All right, let's go.
Once inside, at first they can't find any sign of the squatters...
-Where is everybody?
-..until they get through into a second corridor...
Whoa! Warm in here.
..where the heating is on full blast and gives the game away.
Least they've got the heating on.
Yeah, nice and warm there, ain't you?
Wakey-wakey! High Court enforcement.
Enforcement agents, fellas.
On first impressions,
it seems like it's going to be a straightforward job.
There's lots and lots of rooms.
It is about ten people altogether but they're all aware and they all
seem quite cooperative. They're all just packing up and going.
I did see a big pile of suitcases in one room near the stairs as we
came in, so it wouldn't surprise me if they're pretty much ready to go.
There is one woman, though, who is starting to kick up a fuss.
She's not happy about the sheriffs' early morning wake-up call.
If you don't get on with packing your stuff,
you're going to be removed without it.
That's fine, and I have an issue with all these people
standing here watching me like I've done something wrong.
Like I said, is there any need for it?
Right, if you stay here, Angie, with the lady, OK?
If you just move down a little bit
and we'll just give you a little bit of space, yeah?
You pack your stuff up, OK?
And then we're out of here, yeah?
Does my council tax or anything like that go on this, by any chance?
Now, there's a new one I've not come across before.
A squatter that pays council tax.
Further down the corridor,
another man is also questioning the sheriffs' authority.
What is going on? You're all leaving.
You're all going.
It's not your property, so I suggest you go and pack your stuff
like everybody else is doing and leave.
Thankfully, most of the squatters
are willing to leave without argument.
Have you got everything?
Yeah, I take the shoes from downstairs.
But you've got everything, yeah?
Because once you go, you can't come back in.
Apart from the woman, all of the squatters are Eastern Europeans.
They don't want any trouble.
And although the building's being left in a bit of a state,
it's still not as bad as many squats they've seen.
We've seen a lot worse buildings than this, to be fair.
No holes knocked in walls or anything like that,
which is always good for the landlord.
While most of the squatters are now outside,
one man is taking longer than others to gather his possessions.
Last male's on the way out now.
Once he's gone, Lawrence makes a suspicious discovery in the room.
Halifax Visa debit, a Post Office card and a Capital One credit card.
He's found a pile of bank cards.
They all belong to different people with English-sounding names.
Lawrence thinks the most likely explanation
is that they've been stolen.
I think we'll have to hand those in to the local police.
Everybody's out of the building now
and now it's just the last little bit.
There's a few external doors, the last few locks are being changed.
It's been a good day and it's all been done fairly quickly.
It's taken just over an hour to get the squatters out
and secure the building, which will now be handed back
to its rightful owner.
It's eight o'clock in the morning,
and enforcement agent Lawrence Grix is already on the road.
He's heading into Surrey for an unpaid debt owed by a business
specialising in eco-friendly heating systems.
We're down near Guildford today,
just coming into a place called Gomshall.
We've got the Green Shop and Jan Aukstolis.
We're here today for just under £8,500.
The claimant in the case is Neil Cummings,
a self-employed builder who came across the company
after embarking on a labour of love, building his own family home.
I've built houses for other people,
but the idea of actually building a house specifically for us
was a lifelong ambition.
When we eventually found this plot, it didn't have any gas.
There's no gas supply, there's no oil here,
so I decided that I wanted to go the green route.
After researching his options,
Neil found a local supplier and installer,
the Green Shop in Gomshall.
He went to meet the man in charge, Jan Aukstolis.
He talked the talk,
he seemed to certainly know what he was talking about.
At the heart of the whole system was a wood-burning stove,
and initially Neil was very pleased with the installation.
All of the work proceeded well and everything was installed.
Everything seemed to be fine and above board.
That was until Neil wanted to add a new feature on to the system,
and when he couldn't get hold of Mr Aukstolis,
called in another plumber.
He came along and had a look at the system that we had here
for a couple of hours, and he turned round and said,
"I'm really not happy."
He said that in his opinion,
the system didn't have enough safety features within it.
So Neil had it disconnected.
When he contacted the manufacturer of one of the other main components
in his heating system,
not only did they confirm what the plumber was saying,
they also forwarded an e-mail they'd sent to Mr Aukstolis.
And in the e-mail, it basically turned round and said
that the wood-burning stove used in conjunction
with this particular system must,
and must was all in capital letters, "MUST have an in-built quench coil."
The quench coil is designed to release energy from the system
in the event of a power cut or safety features failing,
and without it, he feared he was sitting on a potential time bomb.
If you can't release the energy, it's going to explode,
and the idea of actually spending my life savings building this property
to potentially have, you know,
my family in a dangerous situation, is scary.
Neil tried to get in touch with Jan Aukstolis to see what he had to say.
He didn't reply to any of my text messages, e-mails. I phoned him,
I went down to the shop, I couldn't get hold of him at all.
Eventually, Neil decided the only option was to get quotes to rectify
the work and complete the installation,
and then take Mr Aukstolis and the Green Shop to court
to cover the costs.
When they didn't defend the case, Neil won a default judgment.
Since then he hasn't paid any money at all,
so I've decided that I need to take this case further.
Money's tight, I haven't been able to rectify any of the situation,
and I won't be able to rectify it until I get any money,
if I do get any money, back from the sheriffs.
So hopefully, in their hands, we'll see what they can do.
Lawrence is en route to the shop,
and his research in the office has painted a promising picture
of what he might find.
It looks quite a reasonably large premises,
when you look at it on Google,
with a car park to the rear.
So hopefully they'll have assets there.
There is money in wood-burning stoves.
But Lawrence is foreseeing a potential pitfall.
Mr Cummings has obtained his writ in the name of the boss personally,
and the Green Shop, which is just a trading name,
and so not a legal entity.
Success this morning may boil down to how exactly
the business has been set up.
Lawrence arrives at the Green Shop
just as some workers are about to get into their vans.
I'm going to have to try and catch this fella here, I think.
So there's no hanging about.
Morning, gents. I'm looking for Jan Aukstolis.
-Is that you at all?
Is he here? Is Mr Aukstolis here?
Our cameraman retreats to the road
while Lawrence tries to find out where Mr Aukstolis is,
but the workers here don't want to wait.
When they start preparing to leave, Lawrence swings into action...
..repositioning his van...
..and blocking the entire entrance to the car park.
Sorry to have to do this to you, guys.
I fully appreciate that you're only just trying to earn a living
and do your job.
But as their vehicles are sign-written
and could belong to the debtor,
Lawrence can't let them leave until he has answers,
which seem to be hard to come by.
Mr Aukstolis isn't here.
The guys that are here say they basically run the place,
they don't see him very often.
They've tried contacting him on the phone,
I've tried contacting him on the phone.
The three vehicles that I've managed to block in
are all clear of finance.
If I can't get hold of him and the guys here can't get hold of him
then, yeah, I'll basically remove the vehicles.
But getting hold of Mr Aukstolis
turns out to be quite simple after all.
One man who's here is showing more interest in the case.
Mr Grix, G-R-I-X.
And Lawrence puts two and two together.
So, are you Mr Aukstolis, then?
It is indeed Mr Aukstolis -
the man who sold Neil his dangerous heating system.
Lawrence shows him his writ and explains he's here for £8,440.
Mr Aukstolis tells him nothing here is owned by him,
but by his business,
which is registered as The Green Shop Gomshall Limited.
Lawrence demands proof of ownership,
but in the end, he doesn't need to see it.
Perhaps mindful of his staff trapped in the car park
and unable to get to work,
Mr Aukstolis manages to come up with some money.
Lawrence moves his van out of the way and lets them go.
That didn't go too badly.
The gentleman there actually was Mr Aukstolis,
and he's managed to come up with just under £3,500 today,
and I've put him on a monthly arrangement
of £1,000 a month for the rest.
All being well, he should clear his debt in five months.
He does admit that the limited company owes the money,
which is basically why he's paid some money today.
But we'll have to see what happens,
he may well just stick to his arrangement.
Down the road in Sussex,
word of the payment has come as a welcome relief to Neil Cummings.
Really good news from the sheriffs.
We've actually finally managed to get hold
of the first initial payment of just over £3,500,
so that's come in and that's brilliant.
So we've already got the new wood-burning stove,
which is just sitting in place, it's not actually connected.
Let's just hope that Jan is true to his word
and honours the agreement and it will be the end to a lot of stress
and anxiety that we've had over the last year.
When debtors can't pay on the spot...
I'm assuming that you haven't got £5,000.
..the sheriffs won't always remove assets to get your money.
Goods go for about a fifth of their true value at auction
and it's often better to agree to a payment plan.
If you can come up with half of it today...
Do you reckon you can do 200 a week?
They'll make a list of assets...
Bar chiller cabinets.
..and a controlled goods agreement is signed,
making it an offence for anyone else to remove them.
You sign the form, it acts as security.
The sheriffs will only return to take the goods
if the debtor fails to make payments.
I've signed him up for £1,000 a month.
Providing you stick to that, you won't hear from us again.
In Birmingham, Tommy and Craig are still trying to recover debt
owed by a Mr Ali Akbar.
He's finally realised that, with a tow truck on the way,
he needs to come up with more than three grand, sharpish,
or else his car will be going.
So far, he's only managed to make offers of part payment,
which have been rejected.
But now a family member has got involved
and is about to throw the sheriffs a curveball.
The car's yours now, is it?
When, when did you get it?
You bought it yesterday, did you?
Oh, right, so he sold it to you yesterday?
-How much for, my love?
It is. We need to see evidence.
Because we need to investigate it, you see, we need...
We can't just, unfortunately, take your word for it.
Moments later, Mr Akbar emerges with a change of registered keeper form.
Right, OK. It's still wet, though, this.
Craig's having none of it.
It won't prevent us from removing the vehicle, unfortunately, Ali.
We can speak to her, but the car's still going.
I don't think that's valid, unfortunately.
If the Akbars want to stop this vehicle being removed,
they're going to have to do better than that.
He was claiming that the car was his all the time.
All of a sudden, he's come out with the bottom half of the V5 document,
saying he's sold it now to his mother or sister.
Clearly, the indication was it was his car this morning,
so it won't prevent us from removing the vehicle today.
But the Akbars aren't giving up just yet.
The plot thickens when Craig
overhears a conversation in the doorway.
If you want to transfer the money into his account, that's fine.
I said, if you want to transfer the money into his...
Well, I can.
Well, it is my business.
But if they're thinking of making a bank transfer to complete the sale
now, it would be too late.
If there's a money transfer just happening just now,
that's going to be irrelevant because we've already took control
of the vehicle prior to it being sold.
Meanwhile, Mr Akbar has reappeared on the driveway,
and to Tommy's surprise, gets behind the wheel of another car.
Strange, isn't it?
Yeah, unusual. He seems to be going.
Perhaps he's gone to get some money.
Perhaps not. But the tow truck's now well on its way, so Tommy and Craig
take the opportunity to do a damage report on his car.
It's been pranged, that has.
Driver's side, rear wing.
Time is running out for Mr Akbar,
who soon returns, but has he come bearing cash?
You all right? Do we know what we're doing?
Are we paying it today or not?
Because they're literally ten minutes away.
Once it turns up, they're just going to hook it up.
OK, we'll have to remove it, then,
but we'll leave all the paperwork for you, all right?
You'll get it back in the same condition it is now if you pay the
full bill, plus the storage costs, plus the removal fee for today.
If it's not, then obviously you can take them to court for damages.
Mr Akbar seems to have given up any hope of hanging onto his car today
and as the tow truck arrives to take it away, hands over his keys.
Are you going to get it back? Are you...in seven days?
-Do you want to take your stuff out first?
Have you got any personal stuff in there, yeah?
Yeah, get your stuff out, mate.
Tommy removes the clamp.
Job's a good'un.
And the car's driven onto the back of the truck.
So, yeah, at least he's given the keys up.
Makes it a lot easier, both for himself and for us.
If it does go to auction, then at least they've got the key to it,
which increases its value.
Yeah, it's seven days and then they
have to put it into a public auction.
Suddenly, it seems Mr Akbar wants to buy his car back at auction,
though it'd make a lot more sense to pay now,
and just as the truck prepares to drive off,
that's exactly what he starts talking about.
If you've got the full balance now... You need it this second.
Mr Akbar has missed his chance.
The sheriffs leave their paperwork.
-There you go, my friend.
Take it easy. Take care of yourself, yeah?
-See you later, mate.
-And their work is done.
He tried his best to negotiate his way out of...
us not taking the vehicle today by trying to transfer ownership.
Even by his own admission, he said, "You've got to try it."
But, unfortunately, it didn't work this time.
Yeah, it's just a classic case of
don't bury your head in the sand, because we won't go away.
The sheriffs are on their way.
Later the same day, Mr Akbar paid the balance in full
and his car was subsequently returned.
Back in Shoreham, Kate Killick has finally got the money she was owed.
It's just really, really nice to know
that the law is there to help people out.
I couldn't be happier.
You know, it was quite a long process.
It's been over a year, but we got there in the end.
The sheriffs are often called upon to visit companies
with cash flow problems who are struggling to pay their bills.
Jobs like these can be tricky,
as the sheriffs are tasked with getting payments for their clients,
but they'd rather not put anyone out of business in the process.
This morning, enforcement agent Lawrence Grix is visiting
a company in Kent.
We're in the Garden of England today, just near Tonbridge.
Going to a company called MetCon Sustainable Building Systems.
MetCon Sustainable Building Ltd has been taken to court
by a supplier which sold them some steel.
They didn't defend the case, and so a default judgment was awarded.
MetCon now owes £5,934.
It is a trading address.
And it's a limited company,
so hopefully there'll be some assets there
and we'll be able to get this resolved.
But as he pulls up outside the premises, Lawrence is disappointed.
First impressions, it doesn't look like they've got a lot here,
to be honest.
There's a pick-up that's sign-written.
Lawrence, however, is never one to prejudge a situation,
and heads inside in search of a manager.
Hello there, sir. Is this MetCon Sustainable Building Systems?
Lawrence is ushered through to a warehouse...
Who's in charge at the moment?
..where he explains to the staff the purpose of his visit.
I'm asking who's in charge here at the moment.
I've got a High Court writ against this company.
Pretty soon he's handed the director on the phone.
The director, it seems, knows all about the debt.
He says the company owes money to a number of people and is
trying to agree a repayment plan.
You've sent a proposal for a company voluntary arrangement?
That's a legally-binding agreement which helps a company with
cash-flow problems gradually pay off its debts while continuing to trade.
Such an arrangement would prevent Lawrence enforcing today.
But it has to be approved by 75% of the company's creditors first,
and that hasn't yet happened.
Now that you've told me that, it actually doesn't put you
in a better position, it puts you in a worse position.
It means I've got to act today to secure this debt for our claimant.
The company may owe money to a number of parties,
but Lawrence is working for only one of them.
What I'm going to do, because there's so much stuff here
and it's difficult to remove, I am now going to call a locksmith
and I'm going to secure the premises.
I'm going to change the locks,
secure the premises and take control of goods on the premises.
That's my only option.
Unless, of course, the director is able to pay instead.
The amount due is £5,934.69.
If I end up having to secure the premises,
basically there's going to be another £1,800 plus VAT
go onto that.
OK, then, sir. Thanks, bye-bye.
Apparently he'd sent a letter to our creditor
proposing an arrangement last Friday.
But they've sent the same letter to all the different creditors,
which basically, from my point of view, escalates it,
because it now means that I've got to protect our creditor's interest.
And that means getting paid first before anyone else
gets a slice of the pie.
I got the gentleman here to phone the director again,
and he said, "Give him another 15 minutes."
It's been another 15 minutes, he's trying him again now.
He's also tried to get a shareholder,
who apparently is the money man,
but he's not answering his phone at the moment.
Not been able to get him, no?
Although the company seem keen to pay,
Lawrence is once again forced to consider his options.
But while he could carry out his threat of securing the premises,
he's not confident it would result in getting his claimant's money.
There's not much in the way of assets here,
it's mainly raw materials.
There is a machine for folding the steel, folds it into a
three-quarter box, which apparently they're about £200,000 new.
But obviously this isn't new,
and unless there's somebody who specifically wants to buy it,
we'd probably be looking at scrap value for it.
But then, finally, Lawrence gets another call,
-this time from the company's shareholder.
I have got to execute this writ to its fullest NOW.
If this isn't paid, I'm going to be pulling the shutters down
and changing the locks.
It doesn't matter where you are in the world, sir, if you've got
the funds to make a payment, it can be done from anywhere.
It seems the message has sunk in.
So he said he's not in a position to actually deal with it himself
but he's going to phone his daughter.
I'm a bit more confident there's going to be some money coming now.
He apologised for the delay.
I'll give him a few more minutes
just to make a couple of phone calls.
Hopefully it's going to get resolved shortly.
It does. Lawrence soon confirms with his office
that a payment has been made.
Brilliant, cheers. Bye.
I shall issue a receipt.
There you go. Thanks very much.
I'm pleased, certainly for the guys here, that I didn't have to...
didn't have to lock the doors.
Cheers, mate. See you later.
Lawrence is on his way,
and the steel supplier who hadn't been paid has now got its money.
MetCon Sustainable Building Systems Ltd's application
to enter a company voluntary arrangement with its creditors
has now been successful.
Today, enforcement agents Tommy and Craig
have been working in the Midlands, and in the middle of the afternoon,
their third call of the day leads them into the city.
Off to a limited company called Zebra Worldwide Machinery Ltd.
It's run by a Simon Graham Winter-Moore.
The claimant is a customer who wasn't happy with a lathe he bought.
He took the matter to court and won a judgment against the company,
but he didn't receive his money.
Two months down the line,
the sheriffs are hoping to collect £5,834.
The sheriffs park up and ring the bell.
Big old place, isn't it?
It's a huge unit, but the shutters are down
and there's no sight or sound of heavy machinery.
Can't hear any noise.
Just when they're beginning to suspect this visit is a lost cause,
the door opens.
Hello, sir. Trying to get in contact with Mr Simon Graham Winter-Moore.
My name's Mr Wild, I'm a High Court enforcement agent.
OK, so I need to leave the door open.
Yes, I have to. No, sir.
It's a commercial property. We can force entry if we need to.
-Yes, we have.
-We've got a court order to come in.
Are you Mr Winter-Moore?
I'll wait here.
The door needs to stay open. We need to speak to him.
Otherwise, we'll have to force entry and get the police.
-No, we won't, sir.
-We'll stay here until he comes down.
The last thing the sheriffs want is to get locked out.
Although they could legally force entry if they needed to,
it's a situation they'd rather avoid.
We weren't going to let the door be shut on us.
We'll be polite to these people as much as we can,
but we are here with the authority of the courts to do our job.
For now, they are happy to wait at the entrance
where they've got a decent view of the assets.
This lot, they're lathes, aren't they?
They're pillar drills.
That looks like a guillotine cutter.
That's a scrubber, a floor polisher thing.
Meanwhile, a man emerges from the office upstairs.
-Can I help you? Hold on, that's a camera crew.
It is indeed the company boss,
but on spotting our camera he's less than pleased.
We're asked to leave and it's left to Tommy and Craig inside
to explain that it's time for Zebra to pay its debts.
The answer isn't exactly what they expected.
The boss says he's already paid and produces proof
of a recent bank transfer.
On closer inspection, it appears he's made a payment
direct to the claimant's solicitor,
but it's only for the amount owed
before the case was transferred to the High Court.
The director is not happy at all because he's saying
the payment he made, he thought it was going to resolve the case.
Obviously, court action has been taken
and that's why we're here today,
and he needs to deal with us, but he's not happy at all.
Because he didn't pay to begin with,
Mr Winter-Moore now owes another £868.
He's not happy.
Nevertheless, he reaches for his credit card,
and the sheriffs are soon on their way,
satisfied they've carried out the Court's wishes.
Got a bit fruity on the door with one of the employees
but managed to put the foot in the door, secure the access.
The director produced evidence that he paid direct
to the claimant's legal representation, just under £5,000.
So we've checked that out, that's come off the bill,
leaving a short balance outstanding
which we have just collected in full.
It didn't come to listing down the company's goods,
but aside from the valuable machines they first saw,
there was one asset inside that made quite an impression.
Oh, yeah, the zebra head.
There was a zebra head mounted in his office.
But for now, the boss's machines and taxidermy are safe.
The sheriffs are leaving with payment in full
and the claimant has got their money back.
Mr Winter-Moore told us...
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.