Episode 9 The Sheriffs Are Coming


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Episode 9

Series following high court enforcement officers. Lawrence and Kev seize equipment from a sports car specialist after a botched repair left a car dripping oil.


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Transcript


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Meet the sheriffs.

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

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-It's do with a High Court order.

-They work for the High Court.

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

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I'm here for £6,072.18.

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They can demand payment on the spot.

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I'm here for the full balance.

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How are you going to pay it?

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Or remove assets instead.

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The car will be going unless you can pay it.

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

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Obstructing their work can be a criminal offence.

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I wouldn't do that if I were you.

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The door needs to stay open.

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Every year in England and Wales,

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unpaid debts totalling more than £80 million

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are recovered by the sheriffs.

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Coming up, a repair to Tony Grace's pride and joy wasn't up to scratch.

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

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But will the sheriffs be able to find enough assets

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to get his money back?

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This is a remapping device.

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About £3,000-£4,000 brand-new.

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A debtor's not happy to find Tommy on his doorstep.

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I'm not talking to you. This is not my house. You're not coming in.

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And the sheriffs face resistance on a factory floor.

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-Can you move?

-On a commercial property,

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we can force entry if we need to, sir.

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-It's a court order, sir.

-But you ain't got to come in.

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

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They're heading to Bishops Stortford in Hertfordshire

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with a writ against a car garage.

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There is no doubt that the motoring trade is a common cause

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of disputes, and, as a result,

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it provides a steady stream of work for the sheriffs.

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

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

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We're going to see Porsche Dynamics Ltd.

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The money they owe is £1658

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and the debt is relating to some work they did.

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It's actually for a gearbox gasket replacement.

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The claimant in the case is heating engineer Tony Grace,

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a lifelong Porsche enthusiast,

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and the proud owner of a dolphin grey model.

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I've always had Porsches.

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I've always had a passion for them.

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

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They're not overstated, the Porsches,

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

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

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If you have a row with your Mrs, or something,

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it's good to get in it and blow the cobwebs away.

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

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and one day, Tony discovered his beloved car

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had sprung a leak in its gearbox.

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I noticed patches of oil on my drive and I thought, you know,

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I don't want to leave it because, obviously,

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it would damage the gearbox.

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

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recommended Porsche Dynamics Ltd.

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When I first saw the garage, it seemed OK.

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I wasn't mad on the guy.

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

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but you can be wrong on that,

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

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

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but it didn't seem to make any difference.

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I kept taking it back and forward.

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I don't know whether they misdiagnosed it,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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He changed the gasket within five hours.

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

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I've never had a problem with it.

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So, obviously,

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the other people didn't do the gasket.

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And that's when Tony began to get annoyed.

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

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I've sort of had to pay double,

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

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

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and then I've got to pay again.

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

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Tony got in touch with Porsche Dynamics Ltd to complain,

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and initially, it sounded like they were keen

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to get the matter resolved.

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

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So he didn't argue at first.

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But this went on for weeks and weeks.

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

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but I gave him plenty of warning.

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I didn't really want to go down that road,

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because I would have just preferred my 700 back and go somewhere else.

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Tony took the company to court

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

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They haven't paid.

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Now he's escalated the case to the sheriffs.

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Yes. It's been over a year now, and the sheriffs are my last resort.

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

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Lawrence and Kev are on their way to the debtor garage

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

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Rather than tactics,

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the top conversational topic is the finer points of Porsche.

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I had one a few years ago, now.

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

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Never had any drama with it.

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Did everything pretty well.

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It was a good car. I enjoyed it.

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

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I probably wouldn't now, to be honest.

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

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

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The sheriffs arrive at the industrial estate

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

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-There it is.

-The Porsche was a bit of a giveaway.

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That's how I roll.

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Like a ninja.

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

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Morning.

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-Are you the guv'nor?

-No, I'm not. He's in there.

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Oh, is he?

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Morning, sir.

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My name's Mr Grix.

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My colleague and I are enforcement agents.

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

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in favour of Mr AJ Grace.

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-Right.

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

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

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

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

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while the conversation continues inside.

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Do you know about this?

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The boss said he does and that he'd sent the sheriffs an e-mail,

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but a cheque would have been better.

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The sheriff's writ demands that they seek payment for Tony

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and they plan to get it,

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but while the line of Porsches outside suggests that,

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on the face of it, the business is doing well,

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it soon transpires that the situation might not be that simple.

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Well, we were chatting to the owner in there.

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He hasn't got the money to pay it. That's the problem.

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The money he's actually offering to pay right now is very minimal.

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

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and so he can only raise £400,

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

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But to go on a payment arrangement,

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Lawrence wants at least half the debt cleared today,

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

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and that's where there's a problem.

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It seems Porsche Dynamics Ltd has another unpaid debt,

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and a different enforcement agent has already called

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and had first dibs on everything here.

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They've actually listed and got an inventory of goods

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they've taken down into their possession.

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

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

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

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Predictably, the cars are all owned by customers,

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so Lawrence and Kev are focusing on the garage equipment.

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

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

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

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We're just seeing what else there is.

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Most of the stuff's on finance as well.

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

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

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It just depends. It depends what it is.

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The sheriffs pride themselves on being able

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to get money back for their clients,

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but in this case, it's going to be difficult.

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

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

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

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by the other enforcement agent.

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

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This is a remapping device,

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so you can remap the engine's ECU to give better performance,

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better economy.

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

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This is a snap-on bit of diagnostic kit,

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and it basically communicates with

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the car's computer system to read faults, reset faults.

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

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but again, at auction, you'd probably get half of that.

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It may not be the Crown Jewels,

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but it should raise enough at auction

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to cover Porsche Dynamics' debt.

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

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and within seven days.

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I think he'll potentially buy it back.

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I think he'll try and get the money together to buy it back

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before it gets sold. Hopefully.

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

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and his equipment has been listed for auction.

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

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

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Yeah. Good news. Probably, with the money,

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

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She's got a bad foot.

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

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and then forget about it and move on.

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Life's for living.

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Porsche Dynamics Ltd told us that...

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Using the county courts to try to recover money you're owed

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isn't difficult.

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One and a half million money claims are made every year

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in England and Wales, involving anything from faulty goods

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or poor workmanship to unpaid invoices.

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

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Both parties in the case will be asked to submit evidence

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and you may have to attend a court hearing.

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

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

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that's when you call the sheriffs.

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First and foremost, sheriffs are looking to get their clients money,

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but that doesn't always mean going in hard.

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Sometimes, it pays to play the long game and take a gentler approach.

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In the Midlands, enforcement agents Tommy Coyle and Craig Wild

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are on their way to a tricky assignment.

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We're out early this morning, very early, in fact.

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We're out on the outskirts of Oxford.

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We're going to go and make an early call today

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to hopefully catch a gentleman at home. It's a home address,

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and it's a lot of money.

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It's £14,000.

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The debtor is called Philip Blakeman

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and he was taken to court by a friend who sold him his Land Rover

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for £10,000 over a year and a half ago.

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But, after receiving the vehicle, Mr Blakeman never paid for it.

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He didn't defend the case

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and default judgment was made against him.

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The sheriffs are now here to collect £14,625,

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including costs and fees.

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The first thing they'll be looking for is that Land Rover.

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If the vehicle would cover the total value of the debt,

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there'd be no discussion.

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The vehicle will be gone, or we want full payment.

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But in this circumstance, it wouldn't cover the full debt,

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but it is sufficient still to remove if there's not going to be

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a substantial offer on the plate.

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But as they arrive at Mr Blakeman's home, the sheriffs are dealt a blow.

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There's no cars at all on the driveway.

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Nothing there, is there?

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Where's the Freelander?

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There's no sign of the Land Rover, or, for that matter,

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any other vehicles.

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You wouldn't live here without a car, would you?

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One possibility is that he's already left the house,

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but there don't seem to be any tracks in the frost on the drive.

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It looks like the sheriffs might have lost

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their main bargaining chip,

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but either way, they need to speak to Mr Blakeman.

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KNOCKING

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A light's on inside but there's no answer at the door.

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Craig, meanwhile, discovers the garage is unlocked,

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meaning the sheriffs are legally allowed to enter.

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That's... Yeah. That's open.

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See if the car's in.

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Tommy sneaks a look for any sign of the Land Rover, but it's no joy.

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It's not there.

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And there's still no answer at the door.

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I think we've missed him, mate.

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It looks dead as a dodo.

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It's like a toilet light.

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-A bathroom light.

-A bathroom light, and all it is is a hallway light.

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I think he's gone, because, look, the cars aren't here either.

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Do you think the car's been there?

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I think, Craig, let's get back in the van.

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There is a chance Mr Blakeman has popped out

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and could return with the car,

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so Tommy and Craig decide to wait in the van,

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but just as they're getting comfortable.

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Oh, there's someone in. I've just seen him go past that window.

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Big guy. So, he's in.

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He just doesn't want to come to the door.

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It seems Mr Blakeman was here all along.

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Let's go back and knock.

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KNOCKING

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This time, he answers.

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Hello there. Is it Mr Blakeman?

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-Yeah, that's me.

-I'll show you some identification.

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I'm not talking to you. I've already spoken to you on the phone.

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You're not going to be talking to us. Why's that?

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It's going to be paid at the end of the month.

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It's going to be paid at the end of the month?

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If you're saying that you can pay us in full at the end of the month,

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we can facilitate that, but we need to secure the debt today.

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This isn't my house, for starters.

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There's nothing in here that belongs to me. I just use a room here.

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-Right.

-I've already told them that. So, that's the end of it.

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Right, well, it's not the end of it, sir, because at the moment,

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they want us to execute this order.

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Yes, but it's not my house. You're not coming in.

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Can you show me anything, evidence-wise,

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that you are going to get that money at the end of the month,

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-and I can obviously...

-No.

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It's being borrowed and being paid at the end of the month.

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Right. Well...

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KNOCKING

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Mr Blakeman isn't being very cooperative.

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Although he says he's going to pay, Tommy needs more than that.

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We can't just take his word for that.

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There's a process where we can do a controlled goods agreement,

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but he doesn't appear interested in that.

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So, I'll try him again.

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KNOCKING

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But there's still no answer

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and Tommy knows they might have their work cut out.

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Our main lever here is the vehicle.

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Hence coming out early.

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Having seen no vehicle,

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the external assets we have in the garage are well insufficient,

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so if he's not going to cooperate, we're a little bit stuck.

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So, he keeps trying.

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Mr Blakeman, can you just come to the door for a moment

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so I can explain the next process, what we're going to be doing?

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Hi, sir.

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I just want to explain to you,

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we're going to be taking control of the goods inside the garage for now.

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All right. OK.

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Mr Blakeman is finally playing ball.

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Tommy and Craig begin listing any assets of his

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they can find to use as security against the debt.

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There's not much in the garage,

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but there is some expensive sports equipment,

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including top of the range cricket kit.

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You've got three Kookaburra bats.

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Pads, one aero.

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Kit bag/trolley.

0:17:010:17:04

And a valuable bicycle from a well-known brand.

0:17:040:17:08

-One Boardman.

-Racing bike, is it?

0:17:080:17:11

Once they've listed everything they can,

0:17:130:17:15

they just need Mr Blakeman's signature.

0:17:150:17:17

This is going to be a controlled goods agreement you're signing.

0:17:170:17:20

It's a legally binding contract.

0:17:200:17:22

It's going to give you until just before the Wednesday.

0:17:220:17:25

If Mr Blakeman doesn't make the payment he's promised

0:17:250:17:27

by the end of the month, they'll be back.

0:17:270:17:30

-You take care. Cheers.

-Bye.

0:17:310:17:33

The sheriffs don't like to walk away without payment

0:17:350:17:38

but sometimes they find it's better to cut a debtor a bit of slack.

0:17:380:17:42

Bit of a difficult job, really,

0:17:420:17:44

because the main lever we were going after was the vehicle.

0:17:440:17:47

The vehicle wasn't present,

0:17:470:17:48

so all we had to work off was trying to get in the house,

0:17:480:17:51

and he was quite adamant, as you could see, not to let us in.

0:17:510:17:53

He's got three cricket bats in there,

0:17:530:17:56

expensive sort of kit bags

0:17:560:17:58

and pads and gloves and a helmet.

0:17:580:18:00

They are expensive.

0:18:000:18:02

However, in comparison to the liability he owes,

0:18:020:18:05

quite insignificant,

0:18:050:18:06

but it does facilitate the situation for us to give him time to pay,

0:18:060:18:10

which I think is what he wanted.

0:18:100:18:12

But later, has more time solved the problem?

0:18:120:18:15

The sheriffs return to visit Mr Blakeman once again.

0:18:150:18:19

In the North West, enforcement agent Alan Pennington is on his way

0:18:280:18:32

to see an asbestos removal firm.

0:18:320:18:34

We're off to Westhoughton,

0:18:340:18:37

just the other side of Bolton,

0:18:370:18:39

to see a company called Malrod Environmental.

0:18:390:18:42

Malrod Environmental Ltd have been taken to court

0:18:430:18:47

by Heysham Demolition Ltd, who say they own some equipment

0:18:470:18:50

hired out for use on a construction site, but never got it back.

0:18:500:18:54

The judgment was awarded by default,

0:18:560:18:58

and now Malrod Environmental Ltd owes £4,521.

0:18:580:19:02

But the case may not be as clear cut as Alan would like.

0:19:070:19:09

The debtor has been in touch,

0:19:090:19:11

claiming that the case is going back to court,

0:19:110:19:13

and in the meantime, there's an order in place

0:19:130:19:16

called a stay of execution, which puts any enforcement action on hold.

0:19:160:19:20

They say that they've got a stay of execution on the case.

0:19:200:19:24

That has not been seen yet by the officer or myself,

0:19:240:19:27

so we'll be there shortly and if they've got it,

0:19:270:19:30

they'll need to produce it.

0:19:300:19:32

If they haven't got it, then they'll need to pay their debt.

0:19:320:19:35

It's now down to Alan to find out whether Malrod's version of events

0:19:350:19:39

is accurate.

0:19:390:19:40

It's up to the debtor to provide the relevant court paperwork,

0:19:400:19:44

and if they can't, then the sheriffs have every right to enforce.

0:19:440:19:48

Newish building.

0:19:480:19:49

Quite a big company, so I'm sure they will have

0:19:510:19:55

no issue with the payment.

0:19:550:19:58

Let's see if they've got a stay of execution, eh?

0:19:580:20:02

As Alan walks into reception...

0:20:020:20:05

-Hiya.

-Hello.

0:20:050:20:06

..a man immediately comes to see him who knows about the debt,

0:20:060:20:10

so Alan gets straight to the point.

0:20:100:20:13

If you've got a stay of execution, I need to see it.

0:20:130:20:16

They've not done it yet?

0:20:200:20:22

It seems the man has misunderstood the situation.

0:20:230:20:26

He's applying to have the judgment against Malrod set aside,

0:20:260:20:29

but as he hasn't yet heard from the court,

0:20:290:20:32

there's no guarantee the application will be successful,

0:20:320:20:36

and so currently, that original judgment stands.

0:20:360:20:39

A set aside is different to a stay of execution,

0:20:390:20:42

but it doesn't sound like he's got either.

0:20:420:20:45

That still needs paying because enforcement actually continues

0:20:450:20:49

until we receive a stay of execution.

0:20:490:20:51

That money goes into an account for 14 days.

0:20:510:20:54

-If a stay of execution comes in, it is refunded back.

-Right.

0:20:540:20:57

It's not what the man wanted to hear,

0:20:570:21:01

but it doesn't look like he's going to put up a fight.

0:21:010:21:04

So what I'll do, are you going to pay by BACS, like?

0:21:060:21:08

So if you can do that for me, that figure there.

0:21:080:21:11

OK?

0:21:110:21:13

The man is going to pay in full.

0:21:160:21:18

The money will be held by the sheriffs for 14 days

0:21:180:21:21

before being passed on to the claimant,

0:21:210:21:24

giving the company time to make a legal challenge if it wants to.

0:21:240:21:28

-All right, thanks for your time.

-See you.

-Ta-ra.

0:21:280:21:31

Great stuff. Thanks, love. Ta-ra.

0:21:330:21:35

Malrod Environmentals Ltd's application

0:21:360:21:39

to get the judgment set aside was not successful

0:21:390:21:41

and the demolition company got the money the court said

0:21:410:21:45

they were owed.

0:21:450:21:46

Malrod told us they don't believe they owed the debt

0:21:460:21:49

and said they would have paid it willingly if they did.

0:21:490:21:52

They say they originally filed a defence against the claim

0:21:520:21:54

but their form was returned to them by the courts.

0:21:540:21:57

It's another early morning start for Tommy and Craig

0:22:050:22:09

who are on their way to see Philip Blakeman for a second time.

0:22:090:22:13

He owes more than £14,000 after buying a Land Rover

0:22:130:22:16

from a friend over 18 months ago which he never paid for.

0:22:160:22:21

On their last meeting, he promised the sheriffs he'd clear the debt

0:22:210:22:24

within a week, but three weeks later they are yet to receive any money.

0:22:240:22:28

He's been in contact via text message with myself,

0:22:280:22:31

initially saying he's going to be paying a few days later.

0:22:310:22:35

That didn't come to fruition.

0:22:350:22:38

There was another promise of payment and it has not come in a week later,

0:22:380:22:42

hence we are here early this morning to enforce.

0:22:420:22:45

So far, the decision to give Mr Blakeman more time hasn't paid off.

0:22:450:22:49

Today, they could remove the goods from his garage

0:22:490:22:52

which they've already taken into control.

0:22:520:22:54

But they are not worth that much and Craig is still pinning his hopes

0:22:540:22:58

on finding the Land Rover.

0:22:580:23:00

We are primarily looking for this vehicle today

0:23:000:23:03

which has a lot more value in it.

0:23:030:23:06

This time they have come even earlier

0:23:060:23:08

in the hope of finding it on the drive.

0:23:080:23:11

No, nothing there.

0:23:110:23:13

But once again they are disappointed.

0:23:130:23:17

Can you believe it?

0:23:170:23:18

Without the Land Rover to use as leverage,

0:23:180:23:21

for a second time they are going to have to rely

0:23:210:23:23

on their powers of persuasion.

0:23:230:23:25

GARAGE DOOR CREAKS, KNOCKING

0:23:290:23:31

It's open.

0:23:310:23:32

Mr Blakeman. You all right?

0:23:350:23:37

The payment didn't come in.

0:23:370:23:39

Unfortunately we are here to enforce it today.

0:23:410:23:43

You were talking about your mother before...

0:23:430:23:46

It shouldn't have taken this long to clear.

0:23:560:23:59

All right, so how come you didn't get in contact to tell us

0:23:590:24:02

it was going to be 14 days?

0:24:020:24:04

It doesn't look good, does it?

0:24:040:24:07

But whatever the reason, Mr Blakeman doesn't have the money,

0:24:070:24:11

so Tommy tries a different tack

0:24:110:24:12

and decides to reveal his knowledge of the key asset,

0:24:120:24:16

the missing Land Rover.

0:24:160:24:18

You've got a vehicle registered to you.

0:24:180:24:20

Where's the vehicle?

0:24:200:24:22

It's not working?

0:24:240:24:26

Is it?

0:24:300:24:31

So, in order to satisfy their writ,

0:24:310:24:33

the sheriffs will have to take some of Mr Blakeman's other goods,

0:24:330:24:37

provided they can cover a reasonable amount of the debt.

0:24:370:24:40

They already know the contents of the garage won't be enough,

0:24:400:24:43

so they turn their attention to the property itself.

0:24:430:24:46

What about the goods inside the house?

0:24:460:24:49

I know you keep saying it, we've not seen any evidence of that so far.

0:24:510:24:54

You cohabit or own here, Mr Blakeman?

0:24:550:24:58

If there's no payment today,

0:24:580:25:00

you need to show us evidence of what belongs to who.

0:25:000:25:02

You know we can't do that.

0:25:060:25:07

I mean, obviously, you signed a controlled goods agreement,

0:25:070:25:10

the last message I had from you was that you were going to pay it.

0:25:100:25:13

Obviously we've not heard from you since.

0:25:130:25:15

Mr Blakeman goes inside to get evidence from his landlady

0:25:180:25:21

to prove it's not his house and he doesn't own any of the contents.

0:25:210:25:25

He soon returns with a bundle of paperwork.

0:25:250:25:28

Scottish Power, that's fine.

0:25:280:25:30

Santander, that's just the insurers. Yeah, that's fine.

0:25:300:25:34

That was the electric, utility bill. Lovely.

0:25:340:25:38

His story seems to be checking out.

0:25:380:25:41

If he really can't pay now and his only assets are those in the garage,

0:25:410:25:45

it might be best to give him a bit more time.

0:25:450:25:48

If there are insufficient assets here,

0:25:500:25:53

then we leave you documentation today

0:25:530:25:55

which will give you seven days to make the payment in full.

0:25:550:25:59

But that deal's only on the table if the sheriffs can satisfy themselves

0:25:590:26:02

he really doesn't own anything else.

0:26:020:26:05

On that basis, Mr Blakeman agrees to let Tommy inside

0:26:050:26:08

to take a look at his room.

0:26:080:26:10

When he returns he explains what he's seen.

0:26:100:26:13

-He's just got a small room.

-Has it been slept in tonight?

0:26:130:26:16

-It's been slept in.

-OK.

0:26:160:26:18

Unfortunately, I think we've done as much as we can today.

0:26:180:26:20

It's all we can do, isn't it? End of.

0:26:200:26:23

The sheriffs are going to have to call it quits for now.

0:26:230:26:26

At this stage, I do actually believe everything he is saying.

0:26:260:26:29

I think he has no money.

0:26:290:26:30

And he is just staying in a room here as a friend.

0:26:300:26:35

He said to me it's still going to get paid within seven days.

0:26:350:26:39

In fact, it takes nearly three weeks,

0:26:390:26:42

but Mr Blakeman did finally raise the money

0:26:420:26:44

and paid £14,735 to clear his debt.

0:26:440:26:49

The friend who sold him the Land Rover has finally got his money.

0:26:490:26:53

If you have won a County Court judgment and haven't been paid,

0:27:010:27:04

for £66 you can get the case transferred up to the High Court

0:27:040:27:07

which will issue a writ for enforcement by the sheriffs.

0:27:070:27:11

My job is to collect in full or remove goods.

0:27:110:27:16

They've got special powers of entry.

0:27:160:27:18

We don't have to take any notice of your security protocol, I'm afraid.

0:27:180:27:21

And there is no limit on the size of the debts they can pursue.

0:27:210:27:24

£1.6 million.

0:27:240:27:26

If they're successful,

0:27:280:27:29

they will recover your money and costs from the debtor.

0:27:290:27:31

Have you got the cash now then?

0:27:310:27:33

As well as their own fees, which are set by the Government.

0:27:330:27:36

She's paid, the judgment is settled.

0:27:360:27:38

Thank you very much.

0:27:380:27:40

If the sheriffs can't get your money,

0:27:400:27:42

they'll ask you to pay a fee of £75 plus VAT.

0:27:420:27:46

It's mid-morning and Tommy and Craig are on the outskirts of Birmingham.

0:27:510:27:56

They are looking for a man who runs a sandwich business

0:27:560:27:59

and who owes thousands of pounds to a former worker.

0:27:590:28:02

We're off to go and see Mr Trevor Johnson.

0:28:020:28:05

He trades as TJ's Sandwiches.

0:28:050:28:08

This one's an employment tribunal case,

0:28:080:28:11

so it's clearly a dispute between employer and employee.

0:28:110:28:14

The claimant says she'd worked for Mr Johnson for ten years

0:28:150:28:19

before he made her redundant without notice.

0:28:190:28:22

He also made unauthorised deductions from her wages

0:28:220:28:25

and owes her holiday pay.

0:28:250:28:27

Mr Johnson didn't attend the hearing

0:28:270:28:29

and the tribunal ruled against him by default.

0:28:290:28:34

He still hasn't paid and owes £4,036.

0:28:340:28:37

As the address on the writ appears to be

0:28:420:28:44

for some kind of industrial unit, rather than Mr Johnson's home address,

0:28:440:28:48

the sheriffs are hopeful of finding suitable assets.

0:28:480:28:51

I think this is actually where they prep and make the sandwiches,

0:28:510:28:55

so we'll be looking for the prep tables

0:28:550:28:58

and actual machinery that may make the sandwiches,

0:28:580:29:02

and refrigerated vehicles is always a good one in places like this,

0:29:020:29:05

we'll be looking for them.

0:29:050:29:07

Hopefully, we'll get the employee the money

0:29:070:29:09

that the court has said that she deserves.

0:29:090:29:12

But all this talk of sandwiches is making Tommy hungry.

0:29:120:29:16

Oh, I do like a good sandwich, two slices of granary bread, no butter,

0:29:160:29:21

some Mexican-style chicken,

0:29:210:29:24

some green and black olives with some salsa,

0:29:240:29:28

a bit of avocado and some crispy bacon.

0:29:280:29:31

That's a lovely sandwich.

0:29:310:29:33

It's also unlikely to be on offer today,

0:29:360:29:38

but he will happily settle for payment instead.

0:29:380:29:41

The sheriffs reach their destination and head in in search of Mr Johnson.

0:29:410:29:46

Hello.

0:29:460:29:49

-Hello.

-Is Mr Johnson about?

0:29:490:29:50

Can he be contacted at all?

0:29:520:29:53

Has anybody got his number?

0:29:560:29:58

No? Who's in charge whilst he's not here?

0:29:580:30:01

So, there's no-one in charge and no-one can contact the boss.

0:30:050:30:08

Craig is sceptical.

0:30:080:30:10

Nobody has got his telephone number at all?

0:30:100:30:13

Who would you phone in an emergency?

0:30:130:30:15

You just deal with it yourselves?

0:30:170:30:18

I'll explain who I am.

0:30:200:30:22

My name is Mr Wild and we are High Court enforcement agents.

0:30:220:30:25

We are here today to execute a court order, a High Court writ of control.

0:30:260:30:31

So we need to get in contact with Mr Johnson.

0:30:320:30:35

As a matter of urgency.

0:30:350:30:36

But just then a man emerges from the back.

0:30:380:30:41

Hello, sir. Are you Mr Johnson?

0:30:410:30:43

Hello, Mr Johnson.

0:30:430:30:45

My name's Mr Wild.

0:30:450:30:47

It seems Mr Johnson was here all along.

0:30:470:30:50

And he now excuses himself momentarily to switch off a machine.

0:30:500:30:54

Well, there you go.

0:30:550:30:57

All of a sudden, he turns up at the back, so...

0:30:570:31:00

Door was open, there, look. He's now trying to tell the staff

0:31:050:31:08

they're in the wrong for leaving the door open,

0:31:080:31:10

which clearly gave us peaceable access into the industrial unit.

0:31:100:31:13

We'll put him right.

0:31:130:31:14

When Mr Johnson returns, he asks our cameraman to leave.

0:31:140:31:18

Inside, Tommy and Craig explain they're here on behalf

0:31:260:31:30

of his former employee and their writ empowers them

0:31:300:31:34

to collect just over £4,000.

0:31:340:31:36

Otherwise, they'll have to remove goods to cover the value instead.

0:31:360:31:39

Thankfully, Mr Johnson knows all about the debt

0:31:390:31:42

and the sheriffs are spared the task of working out

0:31:420:31:45

whether any of the vehicles outside belong to him

0:31:450:31:48

or weighing up the auction value of a whole lot of lettuce

0:31:480:31:52

and bread rolls.

0:31:520:31:53

He agrees to pay, and half an hour later, Tommy and Craig are leaving,

0:31:530:31:56

slightly surprised about how straightforward it was

0:31:560:32:00

considering the reception they got when they arrived.

0:32:000:32:03

We've gained peaceable access,

0:32:030:32:04

met the workers who initially said that our guy wasn't there.

0:32:040:32:09

But like the Scarlet Pimpernel, he appeared from the back.

0:32:090:32:12

His wife was actually in the office at the front of the building,

0:32:120:32:14

so explained the situation and ultimately we got paid in full.

0:32:140:32:18

Normally, that would be the end of the matter, but in this case,

0:32:180:32:22

today's enforcement is only half the story.

0:32:220:32:25

The debt itself was an employment tribunal case,

0:32:250:32:27

it appears to be one of two employees.

0:32:270:32:29

He's expecting another one to come through quite quickly,

0:32:290:32:32

so Tommy explained to him if he can get that resolved before we turn up

0:32:320:32:36

it's going to be more financially viable for him to do that.

0:32:360:32:39

Following the sheriffs' visit,

0:32:420:32:43

Mr Johnson also paid the second tribunal award,

0:32:430:32:47

meaning that both of his former employees have now got the money

0:32:470:32:51

the employment tribunal said they were owed.

0:32:510:32:53

Back in the south-east,

0:33:060:33:07

Lawrence and Kev are also looking for a businessmen with a debt to pay.

0:33:070:33:11

But this is a very different kind of business

0:33:110:33:14

and an unusual case for them.

0:33:140:33:16

We are in Epsom in Surrey today.

0:33:160:33:19

We are going to see Kieran Midwinter,

0:33:190:33:21

trading as Epsom Rocks Tanning.

0:33:210:33:23

So, as you probably can guess, it's a tanning salon.

0:33:230:33:26

It's for sale of sunbed tubes.

0:33:260:33:28

They didn't pay for them.

0:33:280:33:29

Mr Midwinter has been taken to court by the supplier of the sunbed tubes.

0:33:320:33:36

He didn't defend the case and judgment has been made by default.

0:33:360:33:40

He now owes £3,373.

0:33:400:33:44

Neither Lawrence nor Kev are especially familiar

0:33:470:33:50

with what goes on in a tanning salon.

0:33:500:33:51

Not really into sunbeds, to be honest.

0:33:510:33:54

I like going on holiday and getting a bit of tan.

0:33:540:33:57

I know Lawrence is a fan of that, as well.

0:33:570:33:59

Yeah, because there's quite a lot of me to get tanned, really.

0:33:590:34:01

I'm pretty sure I remember him telling me he's got yellow Speedos,

0:34:010:34:04

I think. I think it is. Is that right?

0:34:040:34:06

No, I haven't got any budgie smugglers.

0:34:060:34:09

But a holiday seems a million miles away

0:34:110:34:13

as they slog through the Epsom traffic.

0:34:130:34:16

Pretty heavy.

0:34:160:34:17

Yeah, go on.

0:34:170:34:19

So, I think parking's going to be a bit of an issue.

0:34:190:34:21

Lawrence does manage to bag what he thinks is a good spot.

0:34:210:34:25

Only to be disappointed.

0:34:250:34:27

Oh! Permit holders only.

0:34:270:34:29

I'll stay here if you want. Just give us a shout if you need us.

0:34:290:34:32

Yeah. All right, mate.

0:34:320:34:33

Let me know if them beauty technicians give you any grief.

0:34:330:34:37

Right, if they jump me and, like, pin me to the floor, you mean?

0:34:370:34:39

Yeah, them sunbed assistants.

0:34:390:34:41

So Lawrence heads to the debtors on foot,

0:34:410:34:43

while Kev does the decent thing and minds the van.

0:34:430:34:46

It's not always ideal to leave Lawrence on his own.

0:34:460:34:50

For safety reasons more than anything.

0:34:500:34:52

But there's nothing worse than getting a parking ticket,

0:34:520:34:55

so Lawrence will be all right in the sunbed shop on his own.

0:34:550:34:58

The sheriffs are banking on the tanning salon

0:34:590:35:01

being a fairly unthreatening environment.

0:35:010:35:03

They obviously hadn't factored in the soundtrack.

0:35:030:35:07

LOUD DANCE MUSIC

0:35:070:35:09

Hello!

0:35:090:35:11

Hello, sir. I'm looking for Kieran Midwinter.

0:35:160:35:18

Would that be yourself, sir?

0:35:180:35:19

It is indeed the man named on the High Court writ.

0:35:220:35:25

Lawrence tells him he's got an unpaid debt

0:35:250:35:28

and that's he's here to collect.

0:35:280:35:29

MUSIC VOLUME DECREASES

0:35:290:35:31

That's better. I'm here today to take control of goods

0:35:310:35:35

to the value of £3373.41.

0:35:350:35:37

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

0:35:370:35:40

Overdue invoices.

0:35:430:35:44

So that's what the debt is.

0:35:450:35:47

No, sure.

0:35:470:35:48

While they do, our cameraman has to step outside.

0:35:500:35:53

Mr Midwinter tells Lawrence he didn't know about the debt,

0:35:540:35:57

but he doesn't dispute it and wants to pay,

0:35:570:36:00

only he doesn't have the money.

0:36:000:36:01

The gentleman didn't appear to know anything about it.

0:36:030:36:06

He knew there was an original small debt

0:36:060:36:08

but he didn't realise it had gone to a debt collection company, etc, etc.

0:36:080:36:12

He hasn't been running the salon himself for quite a while.

0:36:120:36:15

He's only just gone back in there,

0:36:150:36:17

so it looks like any of the post that went there

0:36:170:36:20

with regards to this he didn't actually get.

0:36:200:36:22

Whether the staff threw it away or whatever, I don't know.

0:36:220:36:25

Lawrence has explained to Mr Midwinter

0:36:270:36:29

that if he doesn't come up with the money

0:36:290:36:31

then he'll remove his sunbeds,

0:36:310:36:33

and soon the pair agree to a creative solution

0:36:330:36:35

to the problem, as a slightly bemused Kev

0:36:350:36:38

explains from the comfort of the van.

0:36:380:36:41

OK, so I got an update from Lawrence.

0:36:410:36:43

The debtor, he has sold his car recently.

0:36:430:36:47

The money for that is actually at another premises

0:36:470:36:50

which is about 20 miles from here.

0:36:500:36:52

That would cover the debt that we're after.

0:36:520:36:55

20 miles from here, maybe,

0:36:550:36:57

but just a few miles from the sheriffs' office

0:36:570:36:59

and their colleague Tommy.

0:36:590:37:01

It's a bit long-winded and round the houses

0:37:010:37:04

but hopefully Tommy can go and collect this money,

0:37:040:37:07

give us a call that he's collected it

0:37:070:37:09

and we can be off from here without removing goods.

0:37:090:37:12

Tommy may not be used to playing the role of Lawrence's courier,

0:37:120:37:15

but his help will save the sheriffs hours of time

0:37:150:37:18

and possibly get their client paid quicker.

0:37:180:37:21

Half an hour later, his efforts have paid off

0:37:210:37:24

and Lawrence explains his tactics.

0:37:240:37:27

There are three sunbeds in total and they'd all be a bit

0:37:270:37:30

of an effort to remove,

0:37:300:37:31

and they wouldn't have sold for very much anyway.

0:37:310:37:34

And with that in mind,

0:37:360:37:37

Lawrence is satisfied they have made the right call.

0:37:370:37:40

He's paid £2,810 off the debt today

0:37:410:37:44

and I've got a controlled goods agreement in place

0:37:440:37:47

and he's got to pay just under £600 in two weeks' time

0:37:470:37:51

to clear the debt, so I'm quite happy with that.

0:37:510:37:55

Thank you, Tommy.

0:37:550:37:56

Today, enforcement agents Tommy and Craig

0:38:120:38:14

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

0:38:140:38:18

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

0:38:180:38:21

We are in the centre of Birmingham more or less today,

0:38:210:38:25

off to a limited company called Zebra Worldwide Machinery Ltd.

0:38:250:38:30

It's run by a Simon Graham Wintermore.

0:38:300:38:33

We believe it's in relation to a machine that he supplied.

0:38:330:38:38

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

0:38:380:38:42

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

0:38:420:38:46

but he didn't receive his money.

0:38:460:38:48

Two months down the line,

0:38:480:38:50

the sheriffs are hoping to collect £5,834.

0:38:500:38:53

But as they approach, it doesn't look promising.

0:38:560:38:59

It's all locked up, mate.

0:38:590:39:01

That doesn't look good, does it?

0:39:010:39:03

The sheriffs park up and ring the bell.

0:39:050:39:07

DOORBELL RINGS

0:39:070:39:10

Big old place, isn't it?

0:39:100:39:12

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

0:39:120:39:15

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

0:39:150:39:19

Can't hear any noise.

0:39:190:39:21

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

0:39:240:39:27

the door opens.

0:39:270:39:28

Hello, sir. Trying to get in contact with Mr Simon Graham Wintermore.

0:39:300:39:34

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

0:39:360:39:38

OK, so I need to leave the door open.

0:39:400:39:42

Yes, I have to. No, sir.

0:39:420:39:44

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

0:39:450:39:48

-Yes, we have.

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

0:39:500:39:53

Are you Mr Wintermore?

0:39:530:39:56

I'll wait here.

0:39:560:39:57

The door needs to stay open, we need to speak to him.

0:39:570:40:00

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

0:40:000:40:03

No way, sir.

0:40:030:40:04

We'll stay here until he comes down.

0:40:040:40:06

That's fine.

0:40:060:40:07

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

0:40:070:40:10

Although they could legally force entry if they needed to,

0:40:100:40:13

it's a situation they'd rather avoid.

0:40:130:40:16

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

0:40:160:40:19

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

0:40:190:40:22

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

0:40:220:40:25

For now, they are happy to wait at the entrance

0:40:250:40:27

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

0:40:270:40:31

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

0:40:310:40:33

They are pillar drills.

0:40:330:40:34

That looks like a guillotine cutter.

0:40:340:40:36

That's a scrubber, a floor polisher thing.

0:40:360:40:39

Hmm.

0:40:390:40:41

The machines might be a challenge to remove,

0:40:410:40:44

but they definitely have value.

0:40:440:40:46

Meanwhile, a man emerges from the office upstairs.

0:40:460:40:49

What do you think? Is that the same guy?

0:40:490:40:52

No, it's a different guy.

0:40:520:40:53

-Hello, sir.

-Hello, sir.

0:40:550:40:56

-Mr Wintermore?

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

0:40:560:40:59

It is indeed the company boss,

0:40:590:41:01

but on spotting our camera he is less than pleased.

0:41:010:41:05

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

0:41:050:41:08

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

0:41:080:41:12

The answer isn't exactly what they expected.

0:41:120:41:15

The boss says he's already paid and produces proof

0:41:150:41:19

of a recent bank transfer.

0:41:190:41:20

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

0:41:200:41:24

direct to the claimant's solicitor,

0:41:240:41:26

but it's only for the amount owed

0:41:260:41:28

before the case was transferred to the High Court.

0:41:280:41:31

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

0:41:310:41:33

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

0:41:330:41:37

Obviously, court action has been taken

0:41:370:41:39

and that's why we are here today,

0:41:390:41:41

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

0:41:410:41:43

Because he didn't pay to begin with,

0:41:450:41:48

Mr Wintermore now owes another £868.

0:41:480:41:51

He's not happy.

0:41:530:41:55

Nevertheless, he reaches for his credit card,

0:41:550:41:58

and the sheriffs are soon on their way,

0:41:580:42:00

satisfied they have carried out the Court's wishes.

0:42:000:42:03

Got a bit fruity on the door, one of the employees.

0:42:030:42:06

We managed to put the foot in the door, secured the access.

0:42:060:42:10

The director produced evidence that he paid direct

0:42:100:42:13

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

0:42:130:42:17

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

0:42:170:42:20

leaving a short balance outstanding

0:42:200:42:22

which we have just collected in full.

0:42:220:42:24

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

0:42:260:42:29

but aside from the valuable machines they first saw,

0:42:290:42:32

there was one asset inside that made quite an impression.

0:42:320:42:35

Oh, yeah, the zebra head.

0:42:370:42:38

There was a zebra head mounted in his office.

0:42:380:42:41

-Huge.

-Quite impressive.

0:42:410:42:42

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

0:42:420:42:46

The sheriffs are leaving with payment in full

0:42:460:42:49

and the claimant has got their money back.

0:42:490:42:51

Mr Wintermore told us he did offer the claimant who bought the lathe

0:42:530:42:57

an alternative machine and says he wasn't aware he owed any fees

0:42:570:43:00

at the time he made the payment.

0:43:000:43:03

Lawrence and Kev seize equipment from a sports car specialist on behalf of a customer whose car was left dripping oil after a botched repair.

Tommy and Craig have a tricky assignment trying to recover money at a residential address, and the sheriffs face resistance from a worker whilst trying to enter a Midlands factory.