Episode 2 The Sheriffs Are Coming


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Episode 2

Series following high court enforcement officers. Sheriffs visit the head office of a skincare company after three ex-employees were left out of pocket when they lost their jobs.


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Transcript


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-Meet the sheriffs.

-My name's Mr Grix.

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My colleague and I are enforcement agents.

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We came with a high court order today.

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They work for the High Court.

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And if a judge says you're owed money,

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it's the sheriffs' job to go and get it.

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Where are the keys?

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I'm going to be calling a locksmith.

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They can demand payment on the spot...

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-What can you pay us now?

-You're going to get the cash, are you?

-Are you paying the bill?

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..or remove assets instead.

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-You've got 30 minutes to make the payment...

-or we start removing stuff from the building.

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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.

-Don't lie to me.

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No messing?

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Every year, sheriffs in England and Wales recover unpaid debts

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totalling more than £80 million.

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Coming up...

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these women were sacked and didn't get the money they were due.

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Financially, that pressure now, suddenly, was just there.

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Sorry...

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When Rob and Gerald track down the women's boss, they give him an ultimatum.

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He's got another five minutes to make a payment,

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otherwise we're going to phone up the recovery and start removal.

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Tommy is on the trail of a debt that dates back five years.

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He's aware of the court order. It wouldn't just go away.

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And today's sort of crunch time.

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And Mike clamps down on a landlord who hasn't returned a tenant's deposit.

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We're going to immobilise the Volvo,

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hoping he turns up in his Mercedes-Benz,

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and we'll immobilise his Merc as well.

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On average, we spend more than £33,000

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over the course of a lifetime on cosmetics and skincare products.

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Taking care of how we look is now a multi-billion pound industry.

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Today, High Court enforcement agents Rob Foster and Gerald Anderson

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are on their way to skincare company, Sesderma UK Limited.

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Gerald's no beauty expert,

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but he is hopeful there'll be plenty of assets on site.

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We've had a little bit of information that the company has

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expensive serums, a skincare line, fillers, chemical peels, etc.

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Rob and Gerald are pursuing a debt on behalf of four ex-employees,

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who each took their case to an employment tribunal and won.

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They didn't get the money so their cases were transferred to the High Court for enforcement.

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I've got four writs against the same company.

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All of them are tribunals.

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All of them are to do with nonpayment of holiday pay,

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unpaid wages and unpaid expenses.

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Hopefully, we can get all four of them sorted.

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Christine Dunnington is one of the four claimants

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pinning her hopes on the sheriffs.

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Christine was delighted when she landed her dream job,

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heading up the UK sales team

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for leading Spanish skincare company Sesderma.

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It was skincare, which I'm quite passionate about and it was sales,

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which I'm very passionate about, as well.

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Christine was based at the Sesderma UK head office in Oxted, Surrey.

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Her brief, to help establish the company's products in the UK market.

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I knew it was a big brand out in Spain and very successful in the UK.

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It had only been launched for six months but I saw it as a challenge.

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I thought, you know, I can help launch this product in the UK.

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I can see it working, because, you know, the product is great.

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The science is great behind the product.

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Christine was joined by head of marketing Kamal Watson

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and her own sales team, including product specialist Charlotte Smith.

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I thought the company was an ambitious company

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and they had a lot of prospect for growth.

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I was absolutely ecstatic when I was offered the job with Sesderma.

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It was a fabulous opportunity

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and it was something I was really looking forward to.

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As far as Christine was concerned,

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she'd put together a strong team and everything was moving in the right direction.

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It was going really well.

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People were hitting sales targets. The sales were growing.

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We were up over 300% from where I'd started when I joined.

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Christine's position leading the sales team at Sesderma UK seemed secure.

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I thought it was my dream. I thought it was, you know, where my future was going to be.

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I was going to grow with the company

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and bring it to the success that it has in Spain.

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But, yeah, my dream was cut short.

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Eight months into her job, and with no apparent warning,

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Christine was dismissed.

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I was told to go immediately, leave my laptop, leave my phone.

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I could take my personal photos off of the laptop but that was it.

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Go. I didn't know what I'd done wrong.

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You know, I was dumbfounded as to what had happened.

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With rumours of budget cuts and restructures,

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Christine's dismissal wasn't the only shock.

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At around the same time, Charlotte and Kamal were also sacked.

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I received a week's notice and was just told, it's not working out.

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It really did impact my confidence.

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You take it very personally and I did get stressed.

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A week's notice is not very long to find something else.

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So it was a really stressful time.

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For Kamal in particular, the news was a shattering blow.

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Her husband had a serious health problem and was unable to work.

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I was really devastated at the time.

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My husband had just suffered a heart attack,

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so the timing was just not great.

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Knowing that you've had a place you've been going to every day,

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you've invested everything, committed everything and then suddenly,

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for it to just go and you lose your sense of routine and...

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Sorry...

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Yeah, it was just really, really hard.

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Hard to deal with.

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Christine, Charlotte and Kamal,

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along with a fourth employee who'd also been sacked,

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were unhappy about the way they'd been treated.

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They decided to take their case to ACAS, the conciliation service.

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All four claimed they were owed money

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and two of them accused the company of breach of contract.

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We'd all lost our jobs very close together and we were owed money

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as in salary and expenses, holidays and we thought if we all joined together,

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then we're going to have more chance of receiving what's owed to us.

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A lot of money was owed to the four of us and, you know,

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everyone's circumstances are different and I know some of them were really

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struggling with not having pay, having to sell cars,

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having to move out of where they were living, you know.

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It's devastating for people to find themselves in this position.

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For Kamal, losing her family's only source of income hit hard.

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Knowing where the next penny was coming in was crucial.

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Financially, that pressure now suddenly was just there

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and it was just a lot to... a lot to deal with, you know.

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I was expected to be the breadwinner and support my husband emotionally

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and financially, and with the redundancy, I wasn't able to do that,

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so I felt very helpless.

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A settlement couldn't be agreed at ACAS,

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so the women went to an employment tribunal.

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When Sesderma UK didn't contest the case,

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an award was made in favour of the four ex-employees

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but they still didn't get their money, so their case was transferred

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to the High Court for enforcement.

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I've heard about the sheriffs from my uncle.

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That's the best chance that we have,

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I would say, to try to get some of the money that is owed to us.

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We've called in the sheriffs as a last resort.

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We've got to the point where we have tried everything now

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and we're really hoping that the sheriffs can resolve and just put this...

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this case to a close and just get us the money that we're owed.

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The amount owed, including fees, is £15,927.

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Rob and Gerald are on their way to Sesderma UK's head office

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in Oxted, Surrey,

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but there's an immediate potential problem.

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The only way into the office is through a shared access doorway

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and that means, if the door's locked and no-one lets them in,

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they won't be able force entry.

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If nobody opens it, legally, we could have a problem.

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Even though it's commercial,

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we could have a problem forcing entry and it's a shared access.

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Luckily, the door is unlocked and they can walk straight in.

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Oh! Diamond!

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There is a second internal door but that's also unlocked.

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-Two times lucky.

-Two times lucky.

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Finally, the sheriffs reach the Sesderma UK offices.

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Oh, we have three.

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Hello.

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You all right? We're looking for the owner or director

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of Sesderma UK Ltd.

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-Is that yourself?

-No.

-No? Is the director... ?

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The directors of the parent company, Sesderma,

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are based in Spain.

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So Rob and Gerald want to speak to Alberto Sarmiento,

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the project manager and company secretary for Sesderma UK.

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But Mr Sarmiento is out on business.

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Yeah, if you can give him a call. If you let him know that

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-agents from the Sheriff's office are here.

-Yeah.

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And we need to speak to him regarding Mrs C Smith and others.

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The employee goes to call her boss while Rob and Gerald size up the stock.

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-Very well stocked.

-Very well-stocked, yes.

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But to what... to what value?

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I wouldn't know if that there

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is worth 50p or five quid.

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What sort of price is all this stuff, do you know?

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What would I have to pay for something like that?

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It would be £30, £40.

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30, 40 quid for that?

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Whoo!

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The cost of skincare products may be an eye-opener for Gerald

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but it's good news for the sheriffs, because the value of the stock

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may be sufficient to cover the debt.

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Gerald finds an order boxed up and ready to go out.

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This box here is to be delivered.

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13 times, two, four, six, eight, 12, 13.

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The 13 is £400.

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There's everything from foot creams to face cleansers and it all adds up.

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There's thousands of pounds' worth of stuff here.

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And there's one product in particular that catches

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the ever youthful Gerald's eye.

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I'd probably pick this one, which is an anti-ageing facial.

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I'd use this one, because it's my birthday at the end of this month

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and I'm 21 again.

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And this will confirm it!

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The employee's finally managed to get Mr Sarmiento on the phone.

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It's Mr Foster from the Sheriff's office.

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We have four High Court writs.

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Mr Sarmiento says he won't make a payment in full because the amount

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in each of the four writs is wrong.

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He tells Rob he's already paid some of the money direct to the four claimants.

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But despite this, the sheriffs are obliged to execute the writs.

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Regardless of what you claim to have paid at the moment,

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we haven't received any proof of that,

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so all we can go on is the outstanding balances that we've got on the four writs.

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Rob explains that the sheriffs hold the money for 14 days

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so if it turns out Mr Sarmiento has paid too much, he can claim it back.

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I can send you links to pay each one,

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or I can send you our bank details for you to make payments on each one.

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But Mr Sarmiento is still refusing to pay.

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Well, you're going to lose your stock, then.

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It's as simple as that. I'm not beating around the bush with it.

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You either pay it or we remove.

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Mr Sarmiento says he's on his way back to the office

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but he's over an hour away.

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He's... I don't think he's not going to pay it but there is plentiful

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supply of assets here so we'll call a recovery contract and we'll have them away.

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But within a few minutes, Mr Sarmiento is back on the phone

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and he's changed his tune.

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Hello, sir. My name's Mr Anderson for the Sheriff's office.

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He now says he will pay

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but he doesn't have sufficient company funds in the UK.

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So he'll have to contact Sesderma's head office in Spain.

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I can send the details to this person in Spain and he can pay it

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directly into our account from Spain.

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The sheriffs are going to start listing assets

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but decide to hold off actually removing stock

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to give Mr Sarmiento the chance to pay in full.

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We're starting the inventory now.

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Now I'm happy enough not to start walking out with all your stuff

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until you get here.

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All I need to know, sir, is when you get back there,

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are your intentions to get this paid

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or am I sitting here wasting my time?

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Mr Sarmiento says he will pay but still maintains the amount

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on the writs is wrong.

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About an hour, is it? OK. Cheers.

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Gerald briefs Rob on the debtor's claims that a part payment

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has already been made.

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He says he has proof by e-mails that he's paid 50% to each one

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-of them.

-Yeah.

-He's got proof of the payments being made.

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If they have had payments, and they confirm it,

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-then we can adjust the figures likewise.

-Yeah.

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There's only one way to clear this up

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and that's to talk directly to the claimants.

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Gerald gives Christine, one of the four claimants, a call.

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Is that Christine Dunnington? Yeah, how are you doing?

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My name's Mr Anderson from the Sheriff's office.

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How do? All right? I've just been on the blower

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talking to the chappy.

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He reckons that he's paid 50% of this debt already.

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Now, I can't see whether he's paid anything or not.

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Christine explains that they had received some money from Sesderma UK.

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But that was several months before the employment tribunal.

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So the amount they were awarded and the amount on each of the writs is correct.

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-Them figures are correct, then?

-Yep. The figures are absolutely correct.

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Mr Sarmiento will need to pay the full amount,

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a combined total of nearly £16,000,

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to prevent his stock being removed by the sheriffs.

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Later, Mr Sarmiento arrives in the office

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to put the sheriffs in the picture.

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Using the County Courts to try and recover money you're owed isn't difficult.

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1.5 million money claims are paid every year in England and Wales,

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involving anything from faulty goods or poor workmanship

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to unpaid invoices.

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Claims can be filed online or by post 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 will be issued against the debtor.

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

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If you're owed money and have a County Court judgment in your favour,

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you have six years in which to enforce the debt.

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Wait any longer than that, and you can still enforce

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but you'll need special permission from the court first.

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It's early morning and High Court enforcement agents

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-Tommy Coyle and Mike Perkins are passing Wembley Stadium...

-Wembley!

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..pursuing a debt that dates back five years.

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This morning, we're looking for Xenon Builders Ltd.

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The debt's for around £59,000.

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The claimant is a subcontractor who is owed the money for work

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carried out and materials supplied.

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The original court judgment dates back to 2012,

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but the claimant didn't get his money,

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and only now has the case been transferred to the High Court

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for enforcement.

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The total amount owed today, £59,204.

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We're going to be looking for assets such as building vans,

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any high-value building equipment.

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Tommy and Mike find the address on the writ easily enough

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but there's no sign of any builders' vans.

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It's quite a small commercial property.

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What we can see at the moment, there's no external assets.

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Not the best, not the best. But you never know.

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We might go in there and they could have thousands of pounds' worth

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of stuff in there.

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But what's even more worrying is the signage.

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There are signs for several different limited companies,

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including Zen Builders Ltd.

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But the writ is against Zenon,

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so the sheriffs won't be able to remove assets if they're owned by Zen.

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Zenon Builders Ltd. It's this house?

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Is the boss about? Director?

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Good news. It sounds like Zenon Builders is trading from here.

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-Yes, I am manager.

-You're the manager.

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My English is a little bit...

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We'll go and talk in private somewhere and I'll explain everything.

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High Court enforcement agent.

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We're here with a High Court writ today, for Zenon Builders Ltd.

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We're here to collect an amount, £59,204.56.

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I don't know how you'd like to get that paid.

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News of the writ comes as a shock to the manager.

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He says it's a matter for his boss.

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-Can you ring your boss up?

-OK.

-So we can speak to him.

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Get him on the phone. I'll explain it all to him.

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The manager goes off to make a phone call,

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giving Tommy time to assess the situation.

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In a minute, I'm thinking, there's going to be

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a few limited entities here,

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due to different signs of limited companies that are up on the front.

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That's clearly one challenge here.

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Asset-wise, there is a lot of machines here.

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Some of them are of decent value.

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It'd be down to find out who they belong to.

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If they're the property of Zenon Builders Ltd and not Zen Builders Ltd,

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Tommy and Mike will be able to remove them.

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But that will bring its own challenge.

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It's quite hard to uplift,

0:17:400:17:41

so we'll probably need specialist contractors in to do this

0:17:410:17:46

but there is value in all of this kind of machinery.

0:17:460:17:49

Because, like I'm saying, it's vital to a business like this. They wouldn't want it going.

0:17:490:17:53

Minutes later, the manager reappears.

0:17:530:17:56

-My boss.

-Is it?

-He has the boss on the phone.

0:17:560:17:58

My name's Tom Coyle.

0:17:580:17:59

I'm from the Sheriff's office, High Court enforcement agent.

0:17:590:18:03

We have a High Court order here today to execute.

0:18:030:18:06

The boss claims he has no knowledge of the court order

0:18:060:18:09

or the £59,000 debt.

0:18:090:18:11

They have sent a notice of enforcement out here.

0:18:110:18:14

I'm here just to execute the court order.

0:18:140:18:16

The man asked Tommy when that notice of enforcement was sent out.

0:18:160:18:20

I can get you a date when it was sent in.

0:18:200:18:22

It would have given you seven days but it's not just that, sir.

0:18:220:18:26

You must know this is a large sum of money.

0:18:260:18:29

He continues to plead ignorance.

0:18:290:18:31

You have no idea about it, basically, someone taking you to court?

0:18:310:18:34

Initially, it was £38,000.

0:18:340:18:36

If I was running a company,

0:18:360:18:38

I'd know if someone was getting a court order against me for £38,000.

0:18:380:18:43

Since then, court costs, enforcement fees

0:18:430:18:45

and interest has been added to the debt.

0:18:450:18:47

Eventually, the man does remember.

0:18:480:18:50

And Tommy's keen to get on with the business of enforcement.

0:18:500:18:54

We're just here to execute it today.

0:18:540:18:56

We're not here to discuss it.

0:18:560:18:58

We need £59,000, or we need to take goods of the company.

0:18:580:19:03

The boss tells Tommy he'll be there in 20 minutes.

0:19:030:19:06

I'll see you then. Bye-bye, sir. Bye-bye.

0:19:060:19:08

At the moment, he says he's in shock. He remembers the case.

0:19:110:19:15

It's from 2012.

0:19:150:19:16

He thought it was all sorted out via his lawyer.

0:19:160:19:19

He said he wants to resolve the matter.

0:19:190:19:22

Whether he means we get that resolved by payment

0:19:220:19:25

or I'll have to resolve it for him

0:19:250:19:27

by taking goods away today, we don't know.

0:19:270:19:29

With Mike starting to make an inventory of assets,

0:19:290:19:32

the company book-keeper turns up.

0:19:320:19:34

She's been briefed by her boss.

0:19:340:19:36

We haven't received any paperwork whatsoever.

0:19:360:19:39

You should have received some paperwork.

0:19:390:19:42

Then again, it's irrelevant if he's saying he's had the information or not.

0:19:420:19:45

He was aware of the court order from 2012 so he knew all about it.

0:19:450:19:48

It wouldn't just go away.

0:19:480:19:50

And it's today, it's sort of crunch time.

0:19:500:19:53

At the moment, we need £59,234.

0:19:530:19:56

The quicker we get it sorted...

0:19:580:19:59

-You want to go up, sir, to the office?

-That would be better.

0:19:590:20:02

-Yes.

-Yeah?

-Yeah.

0:20:020:20:03

The bookkeeper ushers the sheriffs into the boardroom

0:20:030:20:05

and while they're waiting for the boss to arrive,

0:20:050:20:08

Tommy checks out the frame certificates on the window ledge.

0:20:080:20:11

It's all in the name.

0:20:110:20:13

Zen Builders Ltd.

0:20:130:20:16

We have Zenon Builders Ltd.

0:20:160:20:19

Seems a very small difference but it can be vital.

0:20:190:20:23

The sheriffs are entitled to carry out a diligent search of the debtor's premises,

0:20:230:20:28

so Mike starts sifting through paperwork,

0:20:280:20:30

looking for anything that will prove Zenon Builders Ltd

0:20:300:20:33

is an active company and is trading from these premises.

0:20:330:20:37

We've got health and safety at work, legislation for Zenon Builders Ltd.

0:20:370:20:41

If he can find an invoice or receipt in Zenon's name,

0:20:410:20:44

it could make the difference between securing payment in full

0:20:440:20:47

and walking away empty-handed.

0:20:470:20:49

This is a rates refund application for Zenon Builders Ltd.

0:20:490:20:54

It helps. Yeah, there's more stuff here.

0:20:540:20:56

I've got HM Revenue and Customs.

0:20:560:20:58

It adds to the bigger, bigger picture.

0:20:580:21:01

Can't beat a diligent search.

0:21:010:21:04

There's plenty of paperwork relating to Zenon, the debtor company.

0:21:040:21:07

-Loads.

-If the boss says Zenon Builders is no longer active,

0:21:070:21:10

this paperwork could prove invaluable.

0:21:100:21:14

-Just take a picture of all of that.

-Yeah.

0:21:140:21:16

Mike photographs the evidence and a few minutes later,

0:21:160:21:19

the boss arrives.

0:21:190:21:21

Zenon Builders Ltd.

0:21:210:21:24

Just show some of the application.

0:21:240:21:26

The boss, Mr Zenon Kaczmarczyk,

0:21:260:21:28

is denying Zenon Builders Ltd is trading here.

0:21:280:21:32

So what are you saying exactly?

0:21:320:21:36

You're saying Zenon Builders is not trading?

0:21:360:21:38

I beg to differ,

0:21:380:21:40

because you've got business rates there that you've been paying for Zenon Builders.

0:21:400:21:44

If the sheriffs end up removing assets today,

0:21:440:21:47

the onus will be on the debtor to prove which assets belong to Zenon,

0:21:470:21:51

and which to Zen.

0:21:510:21:52

You need to prove to us everything with who it belongs to here,

0:21:520:21:56

so it'll be tables, chairs, the machinery, and what name's all that in.

0:21:560:22:00

Zen Builders?

0:22:010:22:04

At this point, our camera is asked to leave.

0:22:040:22:06

Inside, the boss is still saying Zenon Builders Ltd is no longer active,

0:22:090:22:13

but Mike is continuing his diligent search of the offices and he finally

0:22:130:22:17

discovers some vital evidence.

0:22:170:22:20

I went to the side offices and I found invoices for last month.

0:22:200:22:25

He told us that the company had stopped trading here seven years ago.

0:22:250:22:29

He is now saying that all the assets belong to Zen Builders,

0:22:290:22:33

not Zenon Builders.

0:22:330:22:34

I'm hoping he makes the payment.

0:22:340:22:36

If he doesn't, it's going to be a long day.

0:22:360:22:39

Finally, after nearly an hour, the sheriffs emerge.

0:22:390:22:43

But has Mike and Tommy's persistence paid off?

0:22:430:22:46

And have they managed to come away with the claimant's money?

0:22:460:22:50

We enforced it thoroughly

0:22:500:22:52

and that produced a full payment of £59,204.56.

0:22:520:22:56

Payment in full,

0:22:580:23:00

thanks to Mike's diligent search and the vital evidence he uncovered.

0:23:000:23:03

When I found up-to-date invoices for the last two months, at that point,

0:23:030:23:06

he started to change his whole attitude towards the, obviously, the debt.

0:23:060:23:12

It's a good result for the sheriffs and for the claimant who's been

0:23:120:23:15

waiting five years for his money.

0:23:150:23:16

Zenon Kaczmarczyk told us that Zenon Builders Ltd is not a trading company

0:23:190:23:24

and that he has started legal proceedings

0:23:240:23:26

to recover the money paid to the sheriffs,

0:23:260:23:28

which he says was paid under duress.

0:23:280:23:30

Back in Oxted in Surrey,

0:23:440:23:45

Rob and Gerald are enforcing four separate writs

0:23:450:23:48

with a combined total of nearly £16,000.

0:23:480:23:52

I'm not beating around the bush with it. You either pay it or we remove.

0:23:520:23:55

It's as simple as.

0:23:550:23:56

But Sesderma UK Project manager Mr Sarmiento has been disputing

0:23:560:24:01

the size of the debt, saying he's already made a part payment.

0:24:010:24:05

-Them figures are correct, then?

-Yeah, the figures are absolutely correct.

0:24:050:24:08

But he's wrong. Rob's back on the phone to Mr Sarmiento,

0:24:080:24:11

breaking the news to him that the writs are right and he does owe the full amount.

0:24:110:24:15

We've spoken to the claimants in the matter.

0:24:150:24:17

The balances that we've got on the paperwork now

0:24:170:24:20

include the remainder of unpaid wages, car allowances,

0:24:200:24:23

expenses and whatnot, so the balances that we have are correct.

0:24:230:24:26

If he's to prevent stock being removed, he'll have to come up with the cash.

0:24:260:24:30

We've had instructions from the client. It's either paid in full

0:24:300:24:33

on all four cases or we remove assets.

0:24:330:24:36

Every single item that we can find will be taken.

0:24:360:24:38

While they wait for Mr Sarmiento,

0:24:400:24:42

the sheriffs list assets and prepare stock for removal.

0:24:420:24:46

40 minutes later, Mr Sarmiento finally arrives.

0:24:460:24:50

All right, sir? All right. Mr Anderson.

0:24:500:24:53

-I'm Mr Foster. I spoke to you earlier.

-Yeah.

0:24:530:24:56

He's not too keen on our camera and invites us to leave.

0:24:560:24:59

But ten minutes later, he invites us back inside.

0:25:010:25:04

He wants to show his bosses in Spain that there really are

0:25:040:25:07

High Court enforcement agents and a BBC film crew in his office.

0:25:070:25:12

So he's sending them a photo.

0:25:120:25:14

He wants to show them that, look, this is happening.

0:25:140:25:17

He hopes the photographic evidence will help persuade them to send him

0:25:170:25:20

sufficient funds to clear the debt today.

0:25:200:25:24

He's been on the phone to the directors in Spain.

0:25:240:25:28

He's just trying to get them to make payment in full at the moment.

0:25:280:25:30

As you can hear, he's on the phone at the moment.

0:25:300:25:33

But it sounds as if head office isn't prepared to bail him out.

0:25:330:25:37

Mr Sarmiento says he can only afford to pay half the debt

0:25:370:25:41

but after several months of being patient,

0:25:410:25:43

Christine, Charlotte and Kamal

0:25:430:25:45

aren't prepared to wait any longer for the money they're owed.

0:25:450:25:49

He's prepared to make a payment of £8,000 now and then he wants

0:25:490:25:52

to go on to an arrangement for the remainder.

0:25:520:25:55

However, we've got four claimants that are all refusing to accept any instalments.

0:25:550:26:00

They feel they've been messed around.

0:26:000:26:02

It's going to have to be paid in full today, or removal.

0:26:020:26:06

Mr Sarmiento is back on the phone to Spain but the boss isn't available.

0:26:060:26:10

Mm-hm.

0:26:120:26:14

The sheriffs have been at Sesderma UK for nearly three hours

0:26:250:26:28

and time is running out for Mr Sarmiento.

0:26:280:26:32

I can't believe just people are washing their hands.

0:26:320:26:35

He's got another five minutes to make payment,

0:26:350:26:37

otherwise we're going to phone up the recovery and start removal.

0:26:370:26:41

And once that happens, extra costs are inevitable.

0:26:410:26:45

Once we phone them, they'll charge as either way, whether they're here,

0:26:450:26:48

on their way, or just left their depot,

0:26:480:26:50

they will charge us, so you will pick that charge up as well.

0:26:500:26:54

With removal just minutes away,

0:26:540:26:56

Mr Sarmiento finally decides to pay in full,

0:26:560:26:59

making up the shortfall from his own personal account.

0:26:590:27:02

-Card?

-Well, let's start doing the payments.

0:27:020:27:05

All right. Debit card?

0:27:050:27:06

-No, we have to go online.

-Transfers online?

-Yes.

0:27:070:27:10

No probs. I'll give you all the details now.

0:27:100:27:13

That'll do nicely for Gerald but each writ will have to be processed

0:27:130:27:17

and the amount on it paid individually.

0:27:170:27:19

So it's four separate transactions we'll have to do.

0:27:190:27:23

It's a long process but Rob and Gerald are happy with the outcome.

0:27:230:27:27

It literally got to zero hour.

0:27:270:27:29

But I think he's hoping to clear these debts

0:27:290:27:31

and make a success of this company and keep going.

0:27:310:27:34

I might be the only one who believes that eventually, this will pay off.

0:27:340:27:39

With Gerald processing the payments, Rob reflects on a job well done.

0:27:390:27:43

He thinks the key to today's enforcement was the threat of removal.

0:27:430:27:47

A lot of the time, you can find these individuals will stall

0:27:470:27:49

and stall and stall and stall and continue stalling

0:27:490:27:53

until you apply pressure.

0:27:530:27:54

In this line of work, that application of pressure is the removal of goods.

0:27:540:27:58

Until we start that process,

0:27:580:28:00

a lot of the time, they don't take it seriously.

0:28:000:28:02

Sometimes, they have to actually see that you are deadly serious

0:28:020:28:05

before they will start to cough up.

0:28:050:28:08

Account number, four, one...

0:28:080:28:11

With each payment now complete,

0:28:110:28:13

Rob checks the money has arrived safely in the Sheriff's account.

0:28:130:28:16

The next one is six, five, nine, one and 66p.

0:28:160:28:21

That's in there. OK.

0:28:210:28:22

It's been a long enforcement but the outcome for the four claimants

0:28:220:28:26

couldn't have been better.

0:28:260:28:28

Payment in full of the four debts totalling just short of £16,000,

0:28:280:28:35

so a very good result.

0:28:350:28:37

Christine, Kamal and Charlotte are delighted to finally get the money

0:28:410:28:44

they're owed and they have a special toast for the sheriffs.

0:28:440:28:48

Well, cheers, everybody.

0:28:480:28:50

We won. Yay!

0:28:500:28:53

So we just would like to say to Rob and Gerald, thank you so much.

0:28:530:28:57

-Thank you very much.

-From all of us. Thank you very much.

-Thank you.

-Thank you so much.

0:28:570:29:00

We really, really appreciate it.

0:29:000:29:02

-Couldn't have done it without you.

-Yeah.

-Absolutely.

0:29:020:29:05

It was just an amazing feeling to know that we've been paid,

0:29:050:29:08

justice has been done, and that we can now sort of move on

0:29:080:29:11

and put a closure to that story.

0:29:110:29:13

When Rob rang me and they had left the building,

0:29:130:29:16

to say we've got the money, I was just ecstatic.

0:29:160:29:21

I actually did scream down the phone.

0:29:210:29:23

I never thought we were going to get there but, yeah, great news.

0:29:230:29:27

For Kamal the money is a welcome relief.

0:29:270:29:30

But there's some even more important news to celebrate.

0:29:300:29:33

My husband is doing a lot better now,

0:29:330:29:35

both emotionally and mentally. He's back out working,

0:29:350:29:39

so he's really positive and we're very optimistic about what the future will hold.

0:29:390:29:42

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

0:29:490:29:53

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

0:29:530:29:57

which will issue a writ for enforcement by the sheriffs.

0:29:570:30:00

Hello. I'm an enforcing agent.

0:30:000:30:03

I'm enforcing a High Court writ.

0:30:030:30:04

I'm here just to execute the court order.

0:30:040:30:06

They've got more powers than County Court bailiffs.

0:30:060:30:09

We're going to force entry into the shop in about the next 10-15 minutes.

0:30:090:30:12

I have the right under the writ to investigate.

0:30:120:30:16

If you obstruct myself or my colleague, it is a criminal offence.

0:30:160:30:19

And there's no limit to the size of the debts they can pursue.

0:30:190:30:24

£14 million. It's the largest job I've ever done.

0:30:240:30:27

He can pay it directly into our account from Spain.

0:30:270:30:30

If they're successful, they will recover your money and costs from the debtor...

0:30:300:30:34

-Thanks.

-Thank you.

-..as well as their own fees that are set

0:30:340:30:37

by the government.

0:30:370:30:39

It was that amount there, until half past five.

0:30:390:30:41

I don't stand here for three hours for nothing.

0:30:410:30:45

If the sheriffs can't get your money,

0:30:450:30:47

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

0:30:470:30:50

It's just before 10am and High Court enforcement agents Tracy Lee

0:30:550:30:59

and Adam Crossley are in the north-west.

0:30:590:31:02

We're in Oldham, this morning, Adam and I.

0:31:020:31:05

It's Adam's patch, this, not mine.

0:31:050:31:07

They're on their way to double glazing company Glowarm.

0:31:070:31:10

The claimant has paid a deposit for glazing on two residential premises

0:31:100:31:14

and obviously, the work's not been done.

0:31:140:31:16

They took the matter to court and when Glowarm didn't respond,

0:31:160:31:20

a judgment was made in the claimant's favour.

0:31:200:31:22

But the money still wasn't forthcoming so it was transferred

0:31:220:31:26

to the High Court and now the sheriffs are on the case.

0:31:260:31:29

They sent Glowarm a notice of enforcement,

0:31:310:31:33

giving them a minimum of seven days to clear the debt

0:31:330:31:36

before the sheriffs turn up on their doorstep.

0:31:360:31:39

There's been no contact after the notice of enforcement,

0:31:390:31:42

so we're hoping obviously, that there's assets at this address.

0:31:420:31:44

We're unsure whether they're actually trading and manufacturing

0:31:440:31:47

from this address or it's merely a sales office.

0:31:470:31:51

The amount owed today is £1,861.

0:31:510:31:54

Glowarm's offices are in a converted cotton mill.

0:31:570:32:01

Multiple offices, isn't it? So it's going to be sales.

0:32:010:32:05

They're going to be just doing telephone sales, I'm guessing from here.

0:32:050:32:10

It's unlikely there'll be much here in the way of assets,

0:32:100:32:13

which will make today's enforcement all the more challenging.

0:32:130:32:17

All right, there? Looking for Glowarm.

0:32:170:32:21

It's Mr Cross, sir. I'm in enforcement agent.

0:32:210:32:23

The man on reception says he'll give them a call.

0:32:230:32:27

Hi! Are they in this building?

0:32:270:32:29

They're in this building.

0:32:290:32:30

Right.

0:32:300:32:33

Ten minutes later, there is no sign of anyone from Glowarm.

0:32:330:32:37

Yeah, I don't like to be kept waiting. Do you?

0:32:370:32:40

Patience is a virtue, Tracy.

0:32:400:32:42

I'm working on it!

0:32:430:32:45

Just then, a woman walks through the door.

0:32:450:32:47

She is from Glowarm.

0:32:470:32:49

There's a writ to enforce.

0:32:490:32:51

A writ of control that was issued in court.

0:32:510:32:54

The woman knows about the debt but claims the case is still ongoing.

0:32:540:32:58

Unfortunately, we're here to recover the money in full.

0:32:580:33:00

-Yeah, yeah.

-Or remove assets.

0:33:000:33:02

The woman claims Glowarm didn't receive the Sheriff's notice of enforcement.

0:33:020:33:06

She goes to reception to check if there's any mail from them.

0:33:060:33:09

And there it is. The notice of enforcement.

0:33:110:33:14

It was sent a full two weeks ago.

0:33:170:33:18

They've not obviously checked their mail. They've not collected mail for a few days,

0:33:180:33:22

otherwise they would have picked up the notice and known about this.

0:33:220:33:25

They've now incurred enforcement costs, which they could have avoided if they'd have actioned it sooner.

0:33:250:33:29

The woman disappears, to give Glowarm's director Mr Ali a call.

0:33:290:33:33

She comes back a few minutes later, and takes Adam and Tracy to the Glowarm office.

0:33:330:33:39

There is a male colleague in the office

0:33:390:33:41

but apparently, he's not Mr Ali.

0:33:410:33:43

Director or no director, Adam gets straight down to business.

0:33:430:33:47

So what are we doing about getting it paid?

0:33:470:33:49

Are we paying it now?

0:33:490:33:51

That letter's dated. You can quite clearly see it's dated

0:33:530:33:56

the 24th of August.

0:33:560:33:58

-Right, well...

-Yeah, but that's your responsibility

0:34:000:34:02

for not getting it out of the pigeonhole, isn't it?

0:34:020:34:04

The choice is yours. Have you got a card you can pay it on?

0:34:040:34:07

It's decision time for the double glazing company.

0:34:070:34:10

That leaves a balance of £361.

0:34:130:34:16

At first, the two Glowarm employees say they'll clear the debt in

0:34:170:34:20

instalments but then, they seem to have a change of heart.

0:34:200:34:23

We'll remove your goods now.

0:34:260:34:28

Yeah.

0:34:280:34:29

The problem, as far as the sheriffs are concerned,

0:34:290:34:31

is that the assets here aren't worth a great deal and certainly

0:34:310:34:34

won't clear the debt.

0:34:340:34:36

To make matters even more difficult,

0:34:360:34:38

the woman seems to have taken a dislike to Tracy.

0:34:380:34:40

We're not interested in issues about personality.

0:34:430:34:45

We're just here to do our job.

0:34:450:34:47

Tracy decides a change of subject is required.

0:34:470:34:50

Is Mr Ali not willing to pay it?

0:34:500:34:52

But I thought you'd just spoken to him on the phone?

0:34:530:34:55

Are we able to speak to Mr Ali?

0:34:580:35:00

The woman says they'll have to come back later if they want to speak

0:35:000:35:04

to the boss, but the sheriffs are going nowhere, and out of the blue,

0:35:040:35:08

the Glowarm employees offer to clear the debt in two instalments.

0:35:080:35:11

Yeah.

0:35:130:35:15

The sheriffs accept the offer

0:35:160:35:18

and start to draw up a controlled goods agreement.

0:35:180:35:21

The agreement means the sheriffs can seize Glowarm's assets

0:35:210:35:24

if the debt isn't cleared within 48 hours.

0:35:240:35:27

With the deal as good as done, our cameraman is asked to leave,

0:35:270:35:31

so we wait outside for Tracy and Adam to emerge,

0:35:310:35:34

clutching the cash and counting their good fortune.

0:35:340:35:37

There weren't a great deal of assets in there. We could have ended up

0:35:370:35:40

with a couple of boxes of telephones, couldn't we?

0:35:400:35:42

We know that the filing cabinets and the telephone system had little or no value,

0:35:420:35:47

so I took the decision there to take the cash and give them 48 hours to pay the balance.

0:35:470:35:51

It would be stupid for them not to pay it

0:35:510:35:53

because it will increase the debt if we have to return.

0:35:530:35:55

Glowarm did pay the balance on time and in full

0:35:550:35:59

and the claimant finally got the money they're owed.

0:35:590:36:02

As for Tracy, her eight years as a sheriff

0:36:020:36:04

have given her the experience and thick skin required

0:36:040:36:08

to take most things in her stride.

0:36:080:36:10

The female that we've dealt with referred to me as a snotty cow.

0:36:100:36:14

It's all part and parcel of the job, isn't it?

0:36:140:36:16

-You've been called worse, Trace.

-I've been called a lot worse.

0:36:160:36:19

-Do you think I'm a snotty cow?

-Yes.

-Yes?

0:36:190:36:22

This morning, High Court enforcement agents Mike Perkins and Billy Evans

0:36:310:36:36

are up bright and early and on their way to Reading.

0:36:360:36:38

We're going to a bakery.

0:36:380:36:41

The defendant is a Mr Jitsu Mir.

0:36:410:36:44

Mr Mir runs the bakery but is also a private landlord

0:36:440:36:47

and owes the money to a former tenant.

0:36:470:36:50

The total amount owed is £6,663.

0:36:500:36:53

Mike is a big fan of bakeries.

0:36:560:36:58

I like a bit of pastry but obviously, I've got to watch my figure,

0:36:580:37:01

not like Billy. Little Belgian bun, yeah, I like!

0:37:010:37:04

Not a fan of Belgian buns.

0:37:050:37:07

But sweet tooth or no, the reason for today's visit

0:37:070:37:11

is unlikely to go down well with Mr Mir.

0:37:110:37:13

The sheriffs expect payment in full and if he can't raise the dough,

0:37:130:37:17

they may be removing a lot more than a couple of Belgian buns.

0:37:170:37:20

Could be a nice big kitchen at the back,

0:37:200:37:22

where he's got a lot of cooking equipment in there.

0:37:220:37:25

Ovens. Hopefully, they'll be owned by the debtor.

0:37:250:37:27

It doesn't take the sheriffs long to find the bakery.

0:37:300:37:33

Here it is.

0:37:330:37:35

But it doesn't look like there's much baking going on.

0:37:380:37:41

Er, 10 am.

0:37:410:37:42

What time are we on now?

0:37:420:37:44

About half an hour.

0:37:440:37:46

We can knock anyway.

0:37:460:37:48

Mike takes a look around the back of the premises while Billy looks

0:37:520:37:55

through the window for potential assets.

0:37:550:37:58

It doesn't look hopeful.

0:37:580:37:59

The assets within that I can see are quite low value, unfortunately.

0:37:590:38:03

Meanwhile, Mike's been doing a bit of detective work

0:38:050:38:08

and he's discovered an asset that will help give the sheriffs

0:38:080:38:11

the leverage they need.

0:38:110:38:13

-That vehicle, is it?

-Yeah.

0:38:130:38:15

Apparently, the Volvo parked directly outside the bakery belongs to Mr Mir.

0:38:150:38:19

So Mike's going to do what Mike does best.

0:38:190:38:22

-Go on, then. I suppose I'll be clamping it, won't I?

-Yeah.

0:38:220:38:25

We're going to immobilise the Volvo.

0:38:250:38:28

We're going to sit back in the van for a while.

0:38:280:38:31

Come 10 o'clock,

0:38:310:38:34

hoping he turns up in his Mercedes-Benz.

0:38:340:38:37

We've already got the Volvo clamped and we'll immobilise his Merc as well.

0:38:370:38:42

It may be an effective way of immobilising a vehicle

0:38:430:38:47

but crawling around in the gutter is hardly the high point of a Sheriff's day.

0:38:470:38:51

I love the clamp, I do.

0:38:510:38:53

He likes to get dirty.

0:38:530:38:56

With the Volvo immobilised, Mr Mir suddenly appears.

0:38:560:39:00

Not in his Mercedes, but from inside the shop.

0:39:000:39:04

It seems he's living in the flat upstairs

0:39:040:39:06

and has just come down to start the day.

0:39:060:39:09

Hello, there. My name's Mr Evans, sir. I'm an enforcement agent, enforcing a High Court writ.

0:39:090:39:12

-Are you Mr Jitsu Mir?

-I am, I am, yes.

-Right, OK.

0:39:120:39:15

Billy tells Mr Mir exactly how much he owes.

0:39:150:39:18

Currently, the bill is at £6,663.11.

0:39:180:39:23

How do you intend to pay it off?

0:39:230:39:24

But Mr Mir has no intention of paying it off today.

0:39:240:39:27

He says the dispute with his former tenant is still ongoing.

0:39:270:39:31

-I have defended it, yes?

-Right.

0:39:310:39:34

My solicitor has deal with it

0:39:340:39:36

and he has sent in an application to the court.

0:39:360:39:41

If you'd like me to show you the letter and everything...

0:39:410:39:43

Yeah, yeah. The application, sir, doesn't stop us actually enforcing on the debt.

0:39:430:39:47

Today, we've got a High Court writ, and it's live.

0:39:470:39:49

The only way you're going to stop enforcement today is by paying in full.

0:39:490:39:52

Yeah, well, I'm not in a position to pay that money.

0:39:520:39:55

Mr Mir says he needs time to call his solicitor.

0:39:550:39:58

The sheriffs give him half an hour but tell him he will have to pay

0:39:580:40:02

in full or the amount he owes will go up.

0:40:020:40:04

-At the moment, the balance is sitting at...

-£6,663.11.

0:40:040:40:10

If you don't get that together, sir, OK,

0:40:100:40:11

we're going to go to the next stage.

0:40:110:40:13

We'll incur an extra...

0:40:130:40:15

-Six, er, 594.

-£594 on it.

0:40:150:40:18

If you can't make that payment,

0:40:180:40:19

we then go to removal stage and you will incur...

0:40:190:40:23

-£1,072...

-on top of the bill as well.

0:40:230:40:25

I recommend that you take your half an hour to try and raise those funds,

0:40:250:40:28

because we are going to further enforce.

0:40:280:40:30

Mr Mir asks our camera to leave the shop,

0:40:300:40:33

so we move outside while he checks through his paperwork.

0:40:330:40:36

Mike and Billy start listing assets for removal.

0:40:360:40:39

There's quite a large kitchen at the back,

0:40:390:40:41

a lot of cooking equipment, possibly enough to clear the debt.

0:40:410:40:45

The one place where the sheriffs haven't so far been able to check

0:40:450:40:48

for assets is Mr Mir's flat above the shop.

0:40:480:40:51

It's a residential property,

0:40:510:40:53

so they can't force entry but they can gain peaceable entry

0:40:530:40:57

through an open or unlocked door.

0:40:570:40:59

Or, of course, the debtor could invite them in.

0:40:590:41:01

It looks like Mike's got upstairs into the debtor's flat now so, yeah.

0:41:010:41:06

I'm going to go and see what else we can list down.

0:41:060:41:11

A few minutes later, Mike emerges.

0:41:110:41:14

He's found exactly what he's been looking for.

0:41:140:41:16

The keys to Mr Mir's Volvo.

0:41:160:41:18

That's even better when the vehicle starts up as well.

0:41:210:41:24

That'll be staying in my pocket.

0:41:240:41:27

If the sheriffs do end up removing the Volvo and selling it at auction,

0:41:270:41:30

it'll be worth a lot more if it has a set of keys.

0:41:300:41:34

They're confident the car, along with the kitchen equipment inside,

0:41:340:41:37

will go a long way towards covering the debt, if it comes to that.

0:41:370:41:41

I've also got the shop keys as well.

0:41:410:41:44

Just in case.

0:41:440:41:46

Finally, there's news from Mr Mir.

0:41:460:41:48

He tells the Sheriff he's spoken to his solicitor and he's been advised

0:41:480:41:52

to pay the full amount.

0:41:520:41:53

As Mike unclamps the car,

0:41:530:41:55

Mr Meer invites us back inside to explain how the writ came about.

0:41:550:42:00

He says he didn't return his former tenant's deposit,

0:42:000:42:03

partly because he didn't have a forwarding address.

0:42:030:42:05

And partly because of the state of the property.

0:42:050:42:08

I went to see the property.

0:42:080:42:10

It wasn't in a good state.

0:42:100:42:11

I made that mention to him. I had to have the place refurbished again,

0:42:110:42:17

which I had a proper invoice for.

0:42:170:42:21

The money has been spent on that.

0:42:210:42:24

In fact, more than his deposit.

0:42:240:42:26

Mr Meer says he was wrongly accused of not putting the money in a

0:42:260:42:29

government-backed deposit scheme as the law requires.

0:42:290:42:33

The sheriffs will hold onto his money for 14 days,

0:42:330:42:35

giving him an opportunity to appeal, should he wish.

0:42:350:42:39

Meanwhile, Mike checks Mr Mir's online payment has gone through.

0:42:390:42:43

Yeah, that's the correct balance.

0:42:430:42:46

Brilliant, thank you very much.

0:42:460:42:48

Brilliant. Thank you. Bye.

0:42:480:42:50

This account cleared on stage one, without having to do a removal.

0:42:500:42:54

I'm going to go and let the defendant know

0:42:540:42:57

that the money's in the account and we'll be leaving.

0:42:570:43:01

It's a good result for the sheriffs.

0:43:010:43:03

Payment in full, all £6,663.

0:43:030:43:06

Three women who worked for a skincare company were left thousands of pounds out of pocket when they lost their jobs. Rob and Gerald visit the company's head office and confront the boss on behalf of the three ex-employees.

Tommy does the talking while Mike does the detective work. But can the Sheriffs secure a £60,000 payment in full on a debt stretching back five years?

And Tracy puts her eight years' experience as a sheriff to good use when she visits a double-glazing firm with an unpaid debt.