Episode 5 The Sheriffs Are Coming


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Episode 5

Series following high court enforcement officers. Tommy and Craig attempt to recover more than £10,000 owed to a couple who bought a boat that turned out to be a wreck.


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Transcript


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-Meet the sheriffs.

-My name is Mr Grix. My colleagues and I are enforcement agents.

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They work for the High Court and if it says you are owed money,

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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 will 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 are recovered by the sheriffs.

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Coming up:

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Valerie Hull spent £10,000 on a boat, only to discover it was a wreck.

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The engine was rusty and in pieces, basically.

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But the man who sold it is in no hurry to refund her cash.

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Can I pay £1,000 now and pay the rest shortly?

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We have to collect that today.

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At a demolition company, Lawrence eyes up some seriously heavy goods.

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We've been sent to this address today to take control of goods

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which at the moment are the excavators and the crusher.

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Ken meets a debtor with an identity crisis.

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This guy, in a roundabout way, is trying to palm me off.

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And Chris tells a wok seller it's time to pay his debt.

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Tell him we're here with a High Court writ and it's for us to take

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everything out of the property.

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Enforcement agents Craig Wild and Tommy Coyle are in the van

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and on the motorway before the sun is up.

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They've got a High Court writ for more than £12,000

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against a member of the public and they are on their way

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to his home address.

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It's early in the morning, it's just 7 o'clock,

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we are off to a little village which is just south of Birmingham.

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We are going to see Mr Jason Holdsworth.

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It's in relation to a boat that Mr Holdsworth sold on eBay which wasn't

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apparently fit for purpose.

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Mr Holdsworth sold the boat to Valerie Hull.

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She and her partner had their hearts set on owning a boat

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and, after months of deliberation, had decided to take the plunge.

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We had retired. It seemed a good idea to be able to go to the Tewkesbury Marina

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and have some leisure time on this boat.

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I'm not saying we'll ever go out to sea on it but it just was a nice way of

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relaxing and enjoying our retirement.

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When they found what they thought was a good deal online

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for a Crownline 250 CR, they leapt at the opportunity.

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The pictures of it were beautiful. It was in excellent condition.

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Couldn't see any fault with it,

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and at £10,000 it seemed like a really good buy.

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The seller was Jason Holdsworth and he invited them to his house

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-to talk it over.

-He was a very amenable chap,

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he was lively, polite, welcomed us into his home.

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We sat down, chatted about the boat and the good condition it was in.

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But there was one problem. Mr Holdsworth said he needed a quick sale.

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He said that where it was moored, which was Cardiff Yacht Club,

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he was having to pay £150 a week for it to stay there.

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It was too far away to go and see it at short notice

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so, fearful of losing out,

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Valerie and her partner agreed to a blind purchase.

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And the arrangement was the next day, just after nine o'clock,

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I would put the money into his bank account by bank transfer

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and he would pay for having it delivered from Cardiff to Tewkesbury.

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But no sooner had Valerie stumped up the cash,

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Mr Holdsworth called to change the arrangement.

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An hour later I got a phone call from Mr Holdsworth saying we couldn't

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have the boat Thursday now, it would be the following week.

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We were a little bit perplexed because we thought in that

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time limit, we could have actually gone to Cardiff and looked at it,

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but we didn't see the point,

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I'd already put the money in his bank account, so we just left it.

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The boat was delivered the following week, but Valerie was in for a shock.

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First there was the delivery.

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The company that had towed it there asked for the fee for towing it

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and we said that was part of the deal, it was a free tow.

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He went, "No, he hasn't paid us."

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And then there was the boat itself.

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It's damp, it's musty, inside the fridge it was rusty.

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All the wiring was hanging inside the boat,

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so none of the wiring was connected at all.

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The front leather seats, which in the pictures were beautiful white seats,

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were actually dark grey and torn.

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And the engine in the engine bay

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was rusty and in pieces, basically.

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It was just horrible.

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There was every indication that it had gone underwater

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at some point in its life.

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I just said, "This is not right."

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It didn't even have a propeller and it couldn't be put in the water.

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As the couple were inexperienced, they sought a second opinion.

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An engineer came, did a report for us and he said, "This engine is rusty,

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"it's not going to turn, it's never going to be any good

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"and, quite frankly, my advice is to try and get your money back

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"because it's not going to do anything, this boat, at all."

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The couple began trying to get their money back from Mr Holdsworth.

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They had hoped he would be responsive, but it wasn't to be.

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We did try various things, we went through all the right sequences,

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but even when we rang him on his mobile, he ignored us.

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He just cut us off.

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I don't even know whether he thinks in his own mind he did anything wrong.

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Court was the only option and the couple won their case when Jason didn't attend.

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But he still hasn't paid them back and, in the meantime, they are

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forking out more than £300 a month in mooring fees

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when they don't even have a usable boat.

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It's heartbreaking, really.

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We are pensioners, we are retired.

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It's an awful lot of money, perhaps not to a lot of people, I don't know,

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but to us it's an incredible amount of money to lose.

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All we can do now is leave it with the sheriffs and keep our fingers

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crossed and hope that they will be able to do something for us.

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Tommy and Craig are on the outskirts of Birmingham.

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More than 60 miles from the nearest coastline, it's an unlikely location

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to find a boat dealer.

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Nevertheless, it appears to be where Mr Holdsworth lives.

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They think they're on the right road,

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but there's no sign of any boats conveniently sitting on a driveway.

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Also, all the houses here just seem to have numbers,

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when they have only been given a name.

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I can't see it. I think it's back there.

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But Craig thinks he's worked it out.

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It's this one here.

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So they pull up and try their luck.

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Hello, sir.

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Sorry to disturb you. I'm trying to find a property called The Stables.

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Any idea?

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But the man says this isn't it and he's not Jason.

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You are not him, no? This isn't The Stables?

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-Right.

-But something tells Craig that the man knows more than he is

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letting on.

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Cos on the back of your jacket, it's got Holdsworth.

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And that's not all.

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Sir, is Jason your son, is he,

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or summat? And this is The Stables, yeah?

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Down the bottom there, on the brick.

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Craig is right on the money.

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The man shows him ID.

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-Fantastic.

-And he is indeed Jason's father.

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He says Jason doesn't live here and he will try to get him on the phone.

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A bit early for him, I suppose, isn't it?

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What do you do yourself?

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Construction.

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Oh, right, yeah, new builds.

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Craig is not getting far with his small talk and Mr Holdsworth senior

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heads off for a meeting, leaving the sheriffs alone on the driveway.

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Just as they wonder what to do next, Jason appears on foot.

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-Are you all right?

-Hello, mate, Jason, is it?

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-Yes.

-Hi, I'm Mr Wild.

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-How are you?

-Not too bad.

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It's to do with a High Court writ, a court order, for...

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..Valerie Hull.

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She's obviously took a court order against you

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for some boat or something you sold.

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Jason clearly knows all about the case and invites the sheriffs in

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to explain.

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Got my solicitor to reply to the order and that's all I've heard.

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Jason claims he thought the legal process wasn't over,

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but it is and the sheriffs are here to collect.

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The balance stands at the moment at just over £12,000.

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It's gone up by £2,000?

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At the moment you've incurred £1,200 enforcement fees,

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£535 judgment costs, and £129 interest.

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It's more bad news for Jason.

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Sheriffs don't work for free and, by not paying the court order

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when it was due, the bill has gone up.

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Are you in a position to pay that?

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No. What happens with the boat that she's got of mine?

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It's worth 12-£15,000.

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The order that I've got at the moment is just to recover the money from you.

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When he didn't defend the case in court,

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Ms Hull was granted a default judgment and Jason lost his chance to ask

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for the return of the boat to be included on the order.

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If they want the boat, that's fine.

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I could sell the boat quite easily...

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for more than...

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..they paid. Yeah, yeah.

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Unfortunately, the court order commands us to come along today and demand

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-payment from you.

-Yes.

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Ms Hull doesn't want the boat and Mr Holdsworth is welcome to it back,

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but he'll have to organise that himself.

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Craig doesn't do boat delivery.

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He is just here for the money owed.

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All right, can I pay that this weekend?

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We have to collect that today.

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Um... What time?

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I can, yeah, I'm just waiting for some money to come through from another

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boat today which is 12 and a half.

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-Right.

-But he hasn't paid it this morning.

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-Right. OK.

-But I can pay it.

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I even checked this morning and it hasn't come through yet.

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-Right.

-So as soon as that's in, I'll pay the balance, that's fine.

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Can't I pay £1,000 now and pay the rest shortly?

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Craig is not keen on vague promises of future payment,

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so Jason's dad steps in,

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offering to pay on his cards and from his savings account,

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but he'll have to make a trip to the bank when it opens in an hour or so's time.

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Craig doesn't want to wait around,

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but he's also not willing to leave without a guarantee of getting

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Valerie's money, so he comes up with a plan.

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The Stables is where you live which is just further down the lane, is it?

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-Yes.

-Have you got a vehicle?

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-Yeah, I've got some cars there.

-If I can list something down now,

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you sign the form, it acts as security until nine o'clock.

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Provided Jason's vehicles are worth enough, then a control of goods agreement could be the answer.

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It would effectively give the sheriffs ownership of the cars until the debt is paid off.

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Jason's house is close by and, on arrival, the sheriffs see just what they want on the driveway.

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There is his Jag there.

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A large motor, isn't it?

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The Range Rover and the pick-up behind.

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That will do.

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Only one of the cars is on finance

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and the other two will do nicely.

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So Craig gets straight down to business.

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The two vehicles act as security.

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If I can get you to sign and print your name there for me.

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Sure.

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The deal is done but Jason isn't particularly happy about it.

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He still says there was nothing wrong with the boat he sold Ms Hull.

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What I think is they found out it's going to be £5,000 a year

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to keep the boat in the water and they didn't want the boat any more,

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so basically I said, "Look, if you want to bring the boat back to the yard,

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"get it delivered back to the yard on a trailer,

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"then we can have a look at obviously refunding your money."

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I didn't hear anything back from them for a few months and then got the court letter

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saying that I owed £10,500.

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I rang my solicitor, she dealt with it all,

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they've sent me a letter back to The Stables, which I haven't received.

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OK, lovely.

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Cheers.

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-Cheers, guys. Take care.

-Thanks for your time, mate. Take care.

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Nevertheless, the court made its decision and Jason must now pay his debt in full.

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The sheriffs are confident he will.

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I think they've got the money all day long.

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They are going to pay at ten o'clock in full.

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Clearly he signed control of the goods of his vehicles over to the custody of the court

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so if they don't pay,

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we'll be back this afternoon to remove them.

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Mr Holdsworth did indeed settle his bill later in the day

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and Valerie has finally got her money back.

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Absolutely brilliant.

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We can now carry on with our retirement...

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..hopefully look forward to getting back on the water with another boat.

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We are just so happy we've got the money back.

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And she has some words of advice for any other prospective boat buyers.

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Don't do what we did.

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Always go and view something like this before you purchase it,

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that's a definite.

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But if you do get in the same position, don't give up.

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Using the County Courts to try to recover money you are owed

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isn't difficult. 1.5 million money claims are made every year

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in England and Wales,

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involving anything from faulty goods 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 and you may have

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to attend a court hearing.

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If you are successful,

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a County Court judgment or CCJ will be issued against the debtor and if

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they still don't pay, that's when you call the sheriffs.

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Enforcing a writ often requires the sheriffs to draw on all of their

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powers of persuasion and negotiation.

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These tactics work best when the debtor is willing to engage in a

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meaningful dialogue.

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But occasionally, debtors simply don't want to play ball.

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In the South East today,

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sheriffs Lawrence Grix and Kev McNally are about to demonstrate that

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persistence is another useful skill to have.

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This morning we are on our way to Pyecombe in West Sussex,

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just outside Brighton.

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We're going to see Wealden Haulage & Demolition Limited.

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And this debt is relating to...

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..tipper hire charges, crushed concrete haulage, and muck away.

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In other words, waste disposal services, supplied by another company,

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who haven't been paid.

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Wealden Haulage & Demolition Limited were taken to court and didn't

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offer a defence. So judgment was entered by default.

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Three months later, and they still haven't paid,

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but the sheriffs are hoping to finally make sure they do.

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They owe a total of £16,335.

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They actually operate off a farm, so we're going to go there.

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As they turn into the address,

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they immediately set eyes on a haulage truck.

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This is the right place, innit?

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They head past the farm shop and up the track towards a house.

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Hello. Hello, you two, hello!

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-Morning, sir.

-Hello.

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I'm looking for Wealden Haulage & Demolition Limited.

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-That's me.

-That's you.

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It's Markus Saich, the company director.

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We have a High Court writ to execute against Wealden Haulage &

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Demolition. The amount outstanding today is £16,335.99.

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-Right.

-We're ordered now to take control of goods to that value

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-to clear the debt.

-Right.

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And the only way to prevent further action is to pay in full.

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Yeah, but I've applied to the courts to have that set aside,

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and I'm waiting to hear back so...

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Right, an application doesn't stop enforcement, sir.

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I'm told... I'm told it does.

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-By a solicitor?

-Yeah.

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Yeah, no, it doesn't.

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Is this your private residence, or is the business actually run from here?

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The business is run from down there, this is my private residence.

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Right. I'm assuming you don't want goods removed.

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No, I don't know what goods you are going to remove,

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cos there isn't anything here that isn't on HP.

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But before Lawrence can probe the details, Mr Saich simply walks off.

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It's a bizarre turn of events, but Lawrence isn't fazed.

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I'm just going to make a note of some registrations,

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then we'll go down to where the business is run from,

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because we're more likely to find some assets down there, I would think.

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The sheriffs get in the van and drive back to the farm shop,

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where it looked like Mr Saich was headed.

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As they approach, Kev thinks he spots movement inside.

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-He's in there.

-What, in the shop?

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-Yeah.

-Is that where he is?

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Yeah.

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But any hopes that they may have found Mr Saich soon evaporate.

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No, it's shut.

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The farm shop is locked, and there's no sign of anyone inside.

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There was someone in there, 100%, and there's no-one else around,

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-is there?

-No. There might be an office at the back or something.

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Lawrence has a nose around, but there's no other way in,

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and still no sign of Mr Saich.

0:17:410:17:44

Their best option now to get the debt paid is to identify some company assets,

0:17:440:17:49

which, on paper, should be straightforward.

0:17:490:17:51

They've got fixed assets of 674 grand, or they did have in November '15.

0:17:510:17:57

So they've got a hell of a lot of assets.

0:17:570:17:59

The problem is, not many of them seem to be here.

0:17:590:18:02

We've got 4X4s and things outside the house,

0:18:020:18:05

which he's turned around and said are all on finance.

0:18:050:18:08

But whether they belong to the company or not...

0:18:080:18:11

There's also this tipper.

0:18:110:18:12

That truck's what we need, really.

0:18:120:18:14

But it's massive.

0:18:140:18:15

We can't really clamp it, can we?

0:18:150:18:17

No. Definitely!

0:18:170:18:19

I don't think there is a clamp on the market that will get on the wheel of

0:18:190:18:22

one of those. Cos that would have to go on an articulated low-loader.

0:18:220:18:26

Or possibly be dragged, but if you are going to drag it,

0:18:260:18:30

you've got to take all the driveshafts out.

0:18:300:18:33

-It's a pig of a job.

-It's too much for now,

0:18:330:18:36

especially because if the debtor's appeal is successful,

0:18:360:18:39

then the sheriffs wouldn't be able to recover the costs.

0:18:390:18:42

So with no assets and Mr Saich unwilling to cooperate,

0:18:420:18:45

this time the sheriffs will have to call it quits - for now.

0:18:450:18:49

We'll check out all the vehicle registrations.

0:18:490:18:52

If any of them do come back to the company and they're clear of finance,

0:18:520:18:55

we can come back and take them.

0:18:550:18:57

So at the moment, I'm just going to leave paperwork, and that's that.

0:18:570:19:01

Later, the saga continues when the sheriffs pay

0:19:020:19:05

Wealden Haulage & Demolition another visit.

0:19:050:19:09

Enforcement agent Ken Warby is no mug,

0:19:210:19:24

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

0:19:240:19:29

He's on his way to Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire

0:19:290:19:32

in search of a local businessman.

0:19:320:19:34

We are going to visit someone called Mr Rostami,

0:19:340:19:38

trading as LJ's Nightclub.

0:19:380:19:41

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

0:19:420:19:45

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

0:19:450:19:50

so it's Ken's job to collect £5,213,

0:19:500:19:54

including costs and fees.

0:19:540:19:57

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

0:19:580:20:02

Give me a half of shandy, and...

0:20:040:20:07

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

0:20:070:20:10

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

0:20:100:20:12

as it seems the nightclub has shut down.

0:20:120:20:15

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

0:20:150:20:18

so we're turning our attentions now to this new address.

0:20:180:20:21

Sheriffs are permitted to visit any address where they believe

0:20:230:20:25

the debtor may have assets,

0:20:250:20:27

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

0:20:270:20:31

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

0:20:310:20:35

He reaches Aylesbury,

0:20:360:20:38

parks up...

0:20:380:20:40

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

0:20:400:20:45

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

0:20:450:20:48

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

0:20:480:20:51

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

0:20:510:20:53

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

0:20:550:20:58

Hello. I wanted to speak to Mr Rostami.

0:21:050:21:08

He's the owner, yeah?.

0:21:120:21:13

I need to speak to him urgently.

0:21:130:21:15

Can someone get hold of him?

0:21:150:21:18

Thank you.

0:21:190:21:21

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

0:21:210:21:25

and shortly afterwards a man appears from the back.

0:21:250:21:28

Hello.

0:21:280:21:30

It's Mr Rostami I want to speak to.

0:21:300:21:32

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

0:21:340:21:37

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

0:21:370:21:42

and he's being somewhat economical with the truth.

0:21:420:21:44

He's not here?

0:21:480:21:51

Right.

0:21:530:21:54

Well, you need to get him on the phone,

0:21:550:21:57

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

0:21:570:21:59

Cheers.

0:22:010:22:03

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

0:22:030:22:06

Ken smells a rat.

0:22:060:22:07

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

0:22:070:22:10

is trying to palm me off to someone else.

0:22:100:22:13

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

0:22:130:22:18

we'll wait and see.

0:22:180:22:20

One asset that particularly catches Ken's eye

0:22:220:22:24

is a grand piano in the corner.

0:22:240:22:26

Taken a few away in my time.

0:22:260:22:28

They can fetch good money,

0:22:280:22:29

but they've got to be a good make.

0:22:290:22:31

Get the odd Steinway, they're worth quite a few grand.

0:22:310:22:33

Not sure what make that is.

0:22:350:22:37

First impressions, it's not a Steinway.

0:22:370:22:39

It's ten minutes since Mr Rostami disappeared

0:22:410:22:43

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

0:22:430:22:47

and now it seems the story has changed.

0:22:470:22:50

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

0:22:570:23:00

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

0:23:020:23:04

Right. I need to speak to the owner,

0:23:060:23:08

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

0:23:080:23:10

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

0:23:100:23:14

outstanding amount that he owes.

0:23:140:23:16

So you need to make some phone calls

0:23:160:23:19

and get him or her down here straightaway.

0:23:190:23:22

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

0:23:220:23:25

another seems to know nothing about it.

0:23:250:23:28

Ken's not sure what exactly is going on,

0:23:280:23:31

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

0:23:310:23:34

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

0:23:340:23:36

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

0:23:360:23:39

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

0:23:390:23:43

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

0:23:430:23:46

bills, business rates et cetera -

0:23:460:23:49

before I walk out the door without any money.

0:23:490:23:52

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

0:23:520:23:57

Hello.

0:23:570:23:59

Are you Michelle?

0:23:590:24:00

Our cameraman obliges and steps out onto the street.

0:24:060:24:10

Ken follows shortly afterwards,

0:24:120:24:14

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

0:24:140:24:18

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

0:24:180:24:21

and he has nothing to do with this place.

0:24:210:24:23

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

0:24:230:24:26

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

0:24:260:24:29

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

0:24:290:24:31

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

0:24:310:24:32

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

0:24:320:24:34

"because I will be removing your goods."

0:24:340:24:39

So we're going to wait and see.

0:24:390:24:41

She's gone to make a few phone calls.

0:24:410:24:43

I'm just going to get back in there and

0:24:430:24:46

tough this one out, I think.

0:24:460:24:47

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

0:24:500:24:53

it must've been fairly recently.

0:24:530:24:56

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

0:24:560:24:59

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

0:24:590:25:03

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

0:25:040:25:07

And soon enough, there is an offer of payment.

0:25:080:25:11

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

0:25:110:25:15

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

0:25:150:25:20

So rather than shut the business down,

0:25:200:25:23

which in effect is what it will do if we remove everything from there,

0:25:230:25:26

I'm going to get on and do that now and hopefully that will be good enough for the client.

0:25:260:25:32

The news is she is actually, um...

0:25:320:25:35

Mr Rostami's ex-wife,

0:25:350:25:37

so that's the connection.

0:25:370:25:39

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

0:25:410:25:43

Ken heads back in,

0:25:440:25:46

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

0:25:460:25:51

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

0:25:510:25:55

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

0:25:550:25:58

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

0:25:580:26:00

It's quite a good result, really,

0:26:000:26:01

because originally I was given the story

0:26:010:26:03

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

0:26:030:26:08

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

0:26:080:26:11

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

0:26:120:26:17

The young woman who was injured in LJ's nightclub

0:26:170:26:19

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

0:26:190:26:23

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

0:26:320:26:35

I'm assuming you haven't got £5,000.

0:26:350:26:37

-Oh, dear.

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

0:26:370:26:42

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

0:26:420:26:45

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

0:26:450:26:48

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

0:26:480:26:50

Do you reckon you can do 200 a week?

0:26:500:26:52

They will make a list of assets...

0:26:530:26:55

Ice machine, bar chiller cabinets.

0:26:550:26:57

Television, PlayStation.

0:26:570:27:00

..and a controlled goods agreement is signed,

0:27:000:27:02

making it an offence for anyone else to remove them.

0:27:020:27:05

When you sign the form, it acts as security.

0:27:050:27:09

The sheriffs will only return to take the goods

0:27:090:27:11

if the debtor fails to make payments.

0:27:110:27:14

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

0:27:140:27:16

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

0:27:160:27:19

Most of the sheriffs' cases involve enforcing judgments made in the County Courts

0:27:250:27:30

as a result of money claims,

0:27:300:27:32

but a small minority of the cases stem from employment tribunals,

0:27:320:27:36

which are similar to courts,

0:27:360:27:37

and where workers can turn if they believe they have been treated unfairly by an employer.

0:27:370:27:42

About 80,000 claims are made every year,

0:27:420:27:45

and if they are successful, typically the tribunal will award a financial settlement.

0:27:450:27:51

It's one of these cases which this morning takes Tommy and Craig into the centre of Birmingham.

0:27:510:27:56

We're off down to Green Street in B12.

0:27:560:28:00

Going to see a company called AJS Midlands Limited.

0:28:000:28:03

The liability itself is just over £9,000,

0:28:030:28:05

so it is not a small amount of money, by any stretch of the imagination.

0:28:050:28:08

A tribunal has judged AJS Midlands Limited and its MD Jason King

0:28:080:28:14

racially discriminated against an employee and dismissed him unfairly.

0:28:140:28:19

It awarded compensation

0:28:190:28:21

but, six months down the line,

0:28:210:28:23

AJS still hasn't come up with the money,

0:28:230:28:25

which means they now owe £9,364.

0:28:250:28:29

But there has been some indication the company is willing to pay.

0:28:290:28:34

The actual defendant company has been in touch

0:28:340:28:36

to say they want to try and negotiate a payment plan.

0:28:360:28:41

The sheriffs aren't ruling that out,

0:28:410:28:43

but their writ requires them to seek full payment if they can.

0:28:430:28:46

They'll only settle for less if they really have to.

0:28:460:28:50

It's down to me and Tommy to go there today and find out what the

0:28:500:28:53

situation really is and

0:28:530:28:55

get them on a payment plan or payment in full.

0:28:550:28:59

-This is Green Street.

-This is it.

0:28:590:29:01

So we are looking for AJS Midlands Limited.

0:29:010:29:05

Oh, AJS, yeah. Big place.

0:29:050:29:07

The sheriffs find the address, park up and head in.

0:29:070:29:10

The entrance leads them to the customer area,

0:29:130:29:15

where they try to get a hearing with Mr King.

0:29:150:29:18

-Hello, sir.

-Is the director of the company about at all?

0:29:180:29:21

My name is Mr Wild, on behalf of the High Court.

0:29:230:29:26

The employee goes off to speak to the boss,

0:29:280:29:30

but when he returns, it seems the urgency of the sheriffs' visit has

0:29:300:29:34

been lost in translation.

0:29:340:29:35

Is there anyone else you can get from finance or anything like that?

0:29:420:29:45

Right. Ideally, we need to speak to the director.

0:29:480:29:51

He won't be available, you say?

0:29:520:29:54

Right.

0:29:590:30:01

But production is of no concern to the sheriffs.

0:30:010:30:03

Their claimant has already waited six months for his money and if this

0:30:030:30:07

unscheduled visit is inconvenient, the company only has itself to blame.

0:30:070:30:12

So Craig tries again.

0:30:120:30:14

The issue that I've got is obviously a sensitive one.

0:30:140:30:18

But it's to do with the court order.

0:30:180:30:20

But if he doesn't want to see me now and get it resolved,

0:30:200:30:23

then unfortunately we have to resolve it for them,

0:30:230:30:26

which he wouldn't want us to do.

0:30:260:30:27

So if you want to go and reiterate that to him,

0:30:270:30:29

if he can give the job to somebody else of changing the tool and have a

0:30:290:30:33

chat with us, that's fine,

0:30:330:30:34

or if he can get in contact with the accountant we can talk to her

0:30:340:30:37

as well. All right?

0:30:370:30:39

Thank you very much.

0:30:390:30:40

Firm but fair.

0:30:450:30:46

While they wait to find out if Mr King plans to see them,

0:30:470:30:51

the sheriffs weigh up their leverage.

0:30:510:30:52

There aren't many assets in reception but if these products are

0:30:540:30:57

manufactured here, it seems likely there will be valuable machinery

0:30:570:31:00

out back. Once they have gleaned the little they can,

0:31:000:31:04

Craig kills time by showing off some photos from the road.

0:31:040:31:07

When you get these complicated jobs,

0:31:070:31:09

you need professional people behind you.

0:31:090:31:13

That's Tommy when he had hair.

0:31:130:31:14

He spent a lot of time out in Thailand.

0:31:140:31:17

Back in my Bondi Beach days.

0:31:170:31:19

-Quite the surfer dude.

-Quite the surfer.

0:31:190:31:23

Meanwhile, the man at reception has returned.

0:31:230:31:25

He hasn't brought Mr King with him,

0:31:250:31:27

but things might be moving in the right direction.

0:31:270:31:30

I can. Who is going to sort it out?

0:31:340:31:38

All right, OK. So,

0:31:380:31:39

as you can see the director of the company might be making a payment.

0:31:390:31:43

The sheriffs had been expecting the company to try to negotiate a payment plan,

0:31:430:31:47

and it's not yet clear how much Mr King is planning to pay on the spot.

0:31:470:31:52

When word comes back that he has made a bank transfer, Tommy calls

0:31:520:31:55

-the office.

-Can you check the account, please.

0:31:550:31:59

Sure enough, a payment has been made and it is for the whole £9,364.

0:31:590:32:05

Brilliant. Cheers, Lawrence. Bye-bye.

0:32:050:32:08

Yeah, all sorted. I will do you a receipt.

0:32:080:32:11

Mr King may not have made an appearance but it seems with the sheriffs at reception,

0:32:110:32:16

he has decided to settle the debt after all,

0:32:160:32:18

much to the sheriffs' delight.

0:32:180:32:20

The director said, "I can't talk to anybody at the moment."

0:32:200:32:23

But we explained it was to do with the court order and I think when that information

0:32:230:32:27

was relayed back to him, he knew exactly who we were, what we

0:32:270:32:30

were there for and the job's a good'un.

0:32:300:32:32

Yeah, it's a good result for the claimant, and for us.

0:32:320:32:34

Six months after he was awarded his compensation, the worker who was the

0:32:340:32:39

victim of racial discrimination and was unfairly dismissed

0:32:390:32:42

has finally got the money he is owed.

0:32:420:32:44

Lawrence and Kev are once again on the trail of a debt owed by

0:32:550:32:59

a company called Wealden Haulage & Demolition Limited.

0:32:590:33:02

They previously visited the company's registered address,

0:33:020:33:05

which was on a farm.

0:33:050:33:06

This is the right place, innit?

0:33:060:33:08

But the director, Markus Saich, was far from helpful...

0:33:080:33:11

..and the only real asset there wasn't going anywhere in a hurry.

0:33:130:33:17

That will have to go on an articulated low loader.

0:33:170:33:20

Or possibly be dragged.

0:33:200:33:22

Other vehicles seen at the site have now been confirmed as being on

0:33:220:33:26

finance and further contact with Mr Saich hasn't come to much.

0:33:260:33:30

The director did contact me saying that there was an order from

0:33:320:33:35

the court stopping enforcement,

0:33:350:33:37

but despite repeated requests he hasn't provided that.

0:33:370:33:41

So as far as we're concerned this writ is still live.

0:33:410:33:44

So far, they've had the doors shut in their face at every turn,

0:33:440:33:48

but the sheriffs don't give up easily

0:33:480:33:50

and now they've got a new lead,

0:33:500:33:52

a tip-off of a site where Wealden might be operating.

0:33:520:33:56

So they're going there in the hope of collecting the £19,000 now owing.

0:33:560:34:00

On arrival, it appears to be

0:34:010:34:03

some kind of aggregate processing facility.

0:34:030:34:06

There aren't any signs mentioning the debtor company

0:34:060:34:09

but Lawrence spots a man working on the site and tries his luck.

0:34:090:34:13

Morning.

0:34:130:34:14

I'm looking for Wealden Haulage & Demolition.

0:34:160:34:20

That's you? My name's Mr Grix.

0:34:200:34:21

My colleague and I are enforcement agents,

0:34:210:34:23

we've got a High Court writ against Wealden Haulage & Demolition.

0:34:230:34:26

We're ordered here today to take control of goods,

0:34:260:34:28

which, by the looks of it, are the excavator and the crusher.

0:34:280:34:32

Are you able to get him on the phone?

0:34:320:34:34

-Thank you very much.

-The man said it's the right place

0:34:340:34:37

and the machines they expected to see are here.

0:34:370:34:40

So far, so good...

0:34:400:34:41

..until Lawrence is handed the phone.

0:34:430:34:45

Morning, sir.

0:34:460:34:47

Was it you I met at the other address at your house?

0:34:490:34:52

It is indeed the company director, Markus Saich.

0:34:520:34:54

We've been sent to this address today, sir, to take control

0:34:540:34:57

of goods which, at the moment, is the excavators and the crusher.

0:34:570:35:01

Once again, Lawrence is told everything is on finance.

0:35:010:35:05

Have you got paperwork to that effect?

0:35:050:35:07

Are you able to get that to us?

0:35:070:35:08

-You're not?

-Mr Saich says if Lawrence wants the paperwork

0:35:090:35:13

-he can come and get it.

-Right, well, I'm not coming there, sir,

0:35:130:35:16

because I'm here and I'm going to be taking these goods into control.

0:35:160:35:19

I can't take them into control at your other premises, can I?

0:35:190:35:23

But not only is Mr Saich refusing to bring the documents the sheriffs

0:35:230:35:27

need to see,

0:35:270:35:28

he's now once again claiming that enforcement action has been stopped

0:35:280:35:31

by the courts. Lawrence is sceptical.

0:35:310:35:34

You told me weeks ago, sir,

0:35:340:35:36

there was an order from the court stopping execution.

0:35:360:35:39

I've asked you repeatedly for that and you haven't provided it.

0:35:390:35:43

It hasn't been stopped until you find out what's going on.

0:35:430:35:46

I have a live writ.

0:35:460:35:48

OK, then, sir, call the police.

0:35:490:35:51

It would be far more helpful if you have got...

0:35:510:35:53

Oh, there you go.

0:35:530:35:55

Actually, it'd be a good thing if the police turn up now.

0:35:550:35:58

That might prompt him to get down here

0:35:580:35:59

and that'd be better for us. It's one of the ways we can progress

0:35:590:36:02

this one at the moment.

0:36:020:36:03

Otherwise, Mr Saich's reluctance to cooperate is once again leaving the

0:36:050:36:09

sheriffs in a tricky position.

0:36:090:36:11

If the machinery really doesn't belong to Wealden Haulage

0:36:110:36:14

& Demolition Limited, then removing

0:36:140:36:16

it would be a very expensive mistake.

0:36:160:36:19

But it doesn't sound like the director's going to help them put

0:36:190:36:22

the ownership beyond doubt.

0:36:220:36:24

The director of the company doesn't really want to speak to us.

0:36:240:36:27

Whenever you get a job where you can't establish some kind of

0:36:270:36:29

sensible dialogue, it's really awkward to get any kind of

0:36:290:36:32

resolution one way or the other.

0:36:320:36:34

If the vehicles are leased from somebody, just give us the paperwork

0:36:340:36:37

-and we can go away.

-As it is,

0:36:370:36:39

the sheriffs will have to work it out for themselves,

0:36:390:36:42

so they head inside the yard for a closer look.

0:36:420:36:45

But as they do, the worker present asks our camera to leave and shuts

0:36:450:36:50

the gates behind him.

0:36:500:36:51

Seeing the chain go on, Lawrence gives the man a warning.

0:36:520:36:55

I know that obviously your boss is telling you to do things but I just

0:36:560:37:00

have to advise you, from your point of view,

0:37:000:37:02

it is a criminal offence to obstruct us.

0:37:020:37:04

So I'm just advising you on a personal level

0:37:040:37:07

because I wouldn't want you doing anything that puts you personally in

0:37:070:37:11

jeopardy because you're following your boss's instructions.

0:37:110:37:14

The employee goes back to work while the sheriffs have a nose around.

0:37:160:37:20

However, their exploration of the site reveals nothing beside

0:37:200:37:24

the huge amounts of concrete

0:37:240:37:26

and no further clues to the ownership of the machines.

0:37:260:37:29

There's a building next to the yard with another company's name over the

0:37:290:37:33

door, so Kev heads in to ask what, if anything,

0:37:330:37:36

they can tell the sheriffs about the crusher and the diggers.

0:37:360:37:40

He soon returns with news.

0:37:400:37:42

-That crusher's financed and it's owned by this lot.

-Yeah.

0:37:420:37:45

But he got his boss on the phone and he was like, "Yeah, no, no,

0:37:450:37:47

-"it's definitely ours." And they've got no reason to...

-No.

0:37:470:37:51

Meanwhile, Lawrence has made a discovery of his own.

0:37:510:37:54

One of the two diggers has broken down on top of a pile of aggregate.

0:37:540:37:58

They began the day hoping to walk out of here with nearly £20,000,

0:37:580:38:03

but that now looks like a tall order.

0:38:030:38:05

# Don't know where we're going Got no way of knowing

0:38:050:38:09

# Driving on the road to nowhere. #

0:38:090:38:11

Unfortunately, there's nothing we can do because the one digger is

0:38:110:38:15

immobile with a knackered engine,

0:38:150:38:18

the crusher we've already confirmed belongs to someone else and the

0:38:180:38:21

digger's in use and we can't take something into control

0:38:210:38:24

if it's actually in use at the time,

0:38:240:38:26

and he's still adamant that it's leased from somebody.

0:38:260:38:29

More than two hours after they arrived, and with no sign

0:38:290:38:32

of the police,

0:38:320:38:33

Lawrence eventually gets a call from the debtor's solicitor,

0:38:330:38:36

who's only just been instructed.

0:38:360:38:38

They say they'll need a few days to collect the relevant paperwork.

0:38:380:38:43

Frustrated, but with no leverage to demand payment,

0:38:430:38:46

Lawrence has no choice but to agree.

0:38:460:38:48

If you're actually going to cooperate, which I imagine you will,

0:38:490:38:52

and deal with this in a sensible manner,

0:38:520:38:53

rather than just being obstructive like your client,

0:38:530:38:56

I'll give you till close of business on Monday to get the paperwork over.

0:38:560:38:59

And then I'm quite happy to leave it.

0:38:590:39:00

Otherwise, I'll be back and I will remove it.

0:39:000:39:03

But it never comes to that.

0:39:030:39:05

Following filming, Wealden Haulage & Demolition Limited paid the sheriffs

0:39:050:39:09

just over £19,000, clearing their debt in full.

0:39:090:39:13

The waste disposal company which hadn't been paid

0:39:140:39:17

has now got the money they were owed.

0:39:170:39:19

As night falls in the northeast,

0:39:310:39:33

sheriff Chris Pearson is on his way to enforce a debt owed

0:39:330:39:36

-by a watch seller.

-The monies are outstanding for

0:39:360:39:40

a watch which I believe was purchased online, a Rolex watch,

0:39:400:39:44

and the goods were not received.

0:39:440:39:46

The claimant bought the Rolex from a business trading as Watchwiseuk

0:39:460:39:51

in Huddersfield. After the item didn't arrive they filed a money

0:39:510:39:55

claim against the limited company, Watchwise Associates Limited,

0:39:550:39:59

and a man they believe to be its director, a Mr John Barker.

0:39:590:40:04

The case wasn't defended in court,

0:40:040:40:06

so judgment was issued by default and now Mr Barker and Watchwise

0:40:060:40:10

Associates Limited owe £5,980.

0:40:100:40:16

We are trying to locate the business address.

0:40:160:40:17

Unfortunately it's been to no end,

0:40:170:40:20

so we're looking now primarily at his residential address,

0:40:200:40:23

just on the off chance that maybe he's still trading from home

0:40:230:40:28

and there may be sufficient assets there.

0:40:280:40:31

Chris approaches the address,

0:40:310:40:33

hoping that Mr Barker will be in and the debt can be resolved.

0:40:330:40:37

Hello, mate. I'm looking for John Barker, please.

0:40:480:40:52

Yes, please, yeah.

0:40:520:40:53

Is it possible to get him on the phone for me?

0:40:550:40:57

It's High Court enforcement. I need to speak to him quite urgently.

0:40:570:40:59

Yeah, it's quite urgent, sir.

0:40:590:41:01

A young man has answered the door and says he'll get Mr Barker

0:41:020:41:05

on the phone.

0:41:050:41:06

But Mr Barker, it seems,

0:41:120:41:13

isn't understanding the seriousness of the situation.

0:41:130:41:16

He needs to deal with it right now, mate.

0:41:190:41:21

Yeah, it's... Do you know the watch business he had?

0:41:230:41:26

It's something to do with that, mate.

0:41:260:41:27

Chris is indeed given Mr Barker's number and rings it.

0:41:320:41:36

But Mr Barker doesn't pick up.

0:41:360:41:38

Chris is beginning to run out of patience.

0:41:400:41:42

Right, not answering. What you need to do, mate,

0:41:420:41:45

tell him we're here with a High Court writ and it's for us to take

0:41:450:41:50

everything out the property. So he needs to answer the phone, mate.

0:41:500:41:53

However, the man instead calls Mr Barker's son, Gary,

0:41:530:41:57

who's apparently also involved in the watch business

0:41:570:42:00

and who arrives almost instantly.

0:42:000:42:02

Is this the gentleman now, is it?

0:42:040:42:05

Are you Gary?

0:42:050:42:07

If you can, mate. Come on inside, Gary.

0:42:070:42:10

Gary heads inside with Chris,

0:42:100:42:11

where he explains that Watchwise Associates Limited is going into

0:42:110:42:15

liquidation and also that his father, John,

0:42:150:42:18

retired from the company more than a year ago.

0:42:180:42:21

Gary says it was him that sold the missing Rolex watch

0:42:220:42:26

and wants to clear the debt. He makes an offer of a payment plan

0:42:260:42:30

and, after checking out the assets in the house, Chris leaves.

0:42:300:42:33

As expected, there wasn't a great deal of goods on the property,

0:42:340:42:38

just general household items.

0:42:380:42:39

There's two suites in there, television, PlayStation,

0:42:390:42:44

just normal items, really.

0:42:440:42:45

Nothing of any great value.

0:42:450:42:46

And they have agreed to set an arrangement up of £300

0:42:460:42:49

a month to clear the debt.

0:42:490:42:51

Now, because there's insufficient assets on the property,

0:42:510:42:53

and I have checked the property out,

0:42:530:42:55

I think we need to accept that for now.

0:42:550:42:58

It's going to be set at that and if it can be pushed on there'll be an

0:42:580:43:01

increased offer within a couple of months.

0:43:010:43:04

Following filming, the claimant rejected the offer of £300 a month,

0:43:040:43:08

preferring the debt to be paid off quicker.

0:43:080:43:11

So far, no money has been received from either of the Barkers

0:43:110:43:14

and the sheriffs plan to make a return visit.

0:43:140:43:17

Tommy and Craig attempt to recover more than £10,000 owed to a couple who bought a boat that turned out to be a wreck.

When a debtor simply walks away from them, Lawrence and Kev track down the man's assets and are confronted with some seriously heavy goods.

Chris tells a watch seller that it is time to pay his debt, and Ken confronts a man with an identity crisis.