Episode 3 The Sheriffs Are Coming


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Episode 3

Series following high court enforcement officers. Sheriffs track down a builder who started building an extension to a home but never completed it.


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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're here with a court order today.

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They work for the High Court, 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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-Hey, all the keys.

-I'm going to be calling a locksmith.

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-They can demand payment on the spot...

-What can you pay us now?

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

-Are you paying the bill?

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-..or remove assets instead.

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

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We will 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.

-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, the Clark family paid

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thousands of pounds to have an extension built on their home,

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but the work was never completed.

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We'd got dust everywhere, we'd got water coming through when it rained.

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I felt like he was taking me for a bit of a fool,

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and I didn't like that.

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Now Tracy and Adam have tracked down the builder responsible,

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and are out to make him pay.

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He's going to be given 20 minutes to open that door and make a noise like

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£3,917, otherwise I'll be removing this and it'll cost him more.

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Rob puts his foot in the door to prevent a bar owner from locking him

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-out.

-I'm a High Court enforcement agent

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Don't shut the door, all right?

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My foot is staying in the door, it's not going anywhere.

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-Walk off my property now!

-And what are you going to do?

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And when tempers run high over a clamped 4x4,

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the sheriffs call for backup.

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If you get any closer, sir, I'm going to use reasonable force...

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-Are you? Go on, then!

-..to remove you from me.

-Go on, then, do it!

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We've got an aggressive male in one of our agent's faces.

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-I need police assistance urgently.

-Go on!

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It's a bitterly cold early start for High Court enforcement agents

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-Adam Crossley and Tracy Lee.

-Very icy this morning.

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It was treacherous, coming down.

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It's 7am, and Tracy and Adam are in Yorkshire, pursuing an unpaid debt.

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It's a residential address we've got for an individual,

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I do believe a builder.

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Hopefully, there's going to be

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vehicles there, possibly vans etc, that can be used as leverage.

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The builder in question is Mr Shaw.

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He let down a young family when he abandoned the job,

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despite being paid thousands of pounds.

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Now the sheriffs are going to pay him a visit.

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And this is the family he let down.

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Richard and Laura Clark had wanted more room for their growing family,

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and rather than move, they decided to add a dining room extension.

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We got quite excited, we got some plans drawn together,

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and, you know, we decided to have a dining room built.

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Among those invited to quote for the job was Mr Shaw.

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Mr Shaw, a very nice chap, came

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round, knew what he was talking about,

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said that he could start within a timeframe that we were happy with.

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We'd got several quotes in,

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and his was roughly roundabout the same price,

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so we decided to go with him. He was enthusiastic to take the job on.

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The price was just over £15,000, for the building, plasterwork,

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and electrics. It was a big decision for the Clark family.

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This is an area that we want to stay in,

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we want our children to grow up here,

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so getting the house right at this stage, for us, was really important

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and we were really excited about this extension.

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It was something that we'd thought about for a while,

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and now the first brick was being laid.

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Richard paid half the money upfront, and two weeks later,

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work got underway.

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On the first day, I wanted to take a day off work so I could actually

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watch the first bit be done.

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Initially, everything seemed to be going to plan.

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It started off reasonably well.

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The porch was gone within half a day

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and the lads that Mr Shaw had got to do the labouring work

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worked really hard. And we thought, you know,

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"We've got a good team here that's all pulling in the same direction."

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But when building inspectors visited the site,

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they weren't happy with the foundations,

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and plans had to be changed.

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I expected Mr Shaw to deal with this.

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When we originally sorted the contract out,

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Mr Shaw put dealing with building inspector,

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and all the background work that needed to be done with that.

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So I assumed that this was going to be done through Mr Shaw,

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but it seemed to lay more on my shoulders.

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The extra work meant the project was running over time

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and thousands of pounds over budget.

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It was also taking its toll on the Clark family

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and Richard in particular.

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I was having to leave work early to make sure that certain things had

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been done. I was spending a lot of time on the phone,

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trying to organise materials to come at a certain day,

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at a certain time, to coincide with when the builders were here.

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What was supposed to be a six-eight week project was badly delayed,

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but eventually the work on the

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foundations was finished and signed off.

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Finally, after about a month, we started laying the first bricks,

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so a lot of the problems, we thought, had ended,

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and the bricks started to get laid,

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and we started having an extension that was slowly being built.

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But the project was beset by more problems,

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and the delays were very frustrating.

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Mr Shaw was starting to say that he was putting other jobs off to finish

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this, so there was almost a little bit of pressure to, you know,

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"Let's just keep going...

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"do what we have to do, but, you know, anything that's going to be

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"complicated, that's going to take a little bit more time..."

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There wasn't really an appetite for that.

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Eventually, with the basic structure in place,

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it was time to secure it against the elements.

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Mr Shaw had got some guys in to come and do the roof

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and they did a great job.

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They were up there for probably two full days,

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-and gave us a really nice roof.

-But that was too good to last.

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There was a fallout between Mr Shaw

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and the guys who were doing the roof, so they never came back.

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So that resulted in, probably, 90% of the roof being completed.

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However, the bits that weren't completed, when it rained,

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we started noticing water coming in.

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By this time, the Clarks were due to go on a family holiday to France.

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The timing couldn't have been worse.

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There was still some outstanding work to be done,

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the roof still needed to be fixed.

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There was some construction work that still needed to be done.

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Mr Shaw told them he'd finish the job while they were away,

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so they put their faith in him,

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paid him the balance and left him to it.

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He put our mind to ease. He said, "Go off on your holiday.

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"While you're away, I'll get the work done,

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"I'll make sure that the roofers come back and finish the roofing."

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You know, and he gave us his word that that would be done.

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They returned with high hopes, but those hopes were quickly dashed.

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We knew when we saw the skip that, you know,

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we'd just pulled outside in the car...we saw the skip and

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we just knew that they'd not been round to finish it off.

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And that feeling that you get when you've just come back off holiday,

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and you're really excited to see the

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work and the finished article, and...yeah.

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We walked round the back, and...

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it was how it was left.

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For Richard, it was the final straw.

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At that point, I was very angry.

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It was the middle of the morning, we'd had a long trip back,

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and I tried to phone Mr Shaw and there was no answer.

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So I sent him a text message and he failed to respond.

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Mr Shaw did eventually call back, saying he'd broken his arm,

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but as far as Richard was concerned, it was one excuse too many.

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He told me that he'd provide us with an extension that we'd be proud of,

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and he failed to deliver.

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The roof was still unfinished,

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as was some of the rendering and plasterwork.

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We'd got dust everywhere, we'd got water coming through when it rained.

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At this point, Emma was, you know, she was five months old.

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We work full-time, we had an unsecured property,

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and it was not what we wanted when we came back off holiday.

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Mr Shaw never completed the work,

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so Richard had to find more money to pay someone else to finish the job.

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This work needed to be done.

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Every time it rained, I was at work, looking out of the window, thinking,

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"Please, don't rain." We had nothing left.

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So we relied on my wife's parents to lend us the money,

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so we could get the remedial work done.

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Richard then decided to take Mr Shaw to court,

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to try and get back the extra money he'd paid out to complete the work.

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I felt like he was almost taking me for a bit of a fool,

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and I didn't like that, you know?

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When you're doing building work on

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somebody's house, it's...it's a major thing, you know?

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You've got a lot of responsibility with that.

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Mr Shaw failed to turn up at court,

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and a County Court judgment was issued against him,

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but he still didn't pay Richard the money for the remedial work,

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so Richard escalated the case to the High Court

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and called in the sheriffs.

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Hopefully the sheriffs

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will get a good conclusion from our perspective,

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but also teach him that he can't just treat people like this.

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The amount owed today is £3,917.

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Tracy and Adam are in Yorkshire, on their way to see Mr Shaw.

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But it seems there may be a problem ahead.

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The sheriffs have been notified that

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Mr Shaw has moved out of his family home.

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We're getting there early to see if we can catch him in,

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cos the claimant believes he does live at the house.

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If he does live there, the sheriffs

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are hoping that any vehicles parked outside will give them

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sufficient leverage to clear the debt.

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If there's a van there, and we're looking to seize the van...

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he's not going to want that to happen, is he?

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-All right, we're somewhere here?

-Yeah, to the left.

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Yeah, there's a van outside, but...

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it's, er, it's very old.

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There's also a second car parked on the driveway.

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But before clamping them,

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Tracy wants to see if she can get a response from inside the property.

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-You all right?

-Yeah, just watch your footing.

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SHE KNOCKS ON DOOR

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At first, there's no answer...

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SHE KNOCKS ON DOOR

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..then someone comes to the door.

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He won't open it, and he asks Tracy if she can come back later.

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No. Is it Mr Shaw? Pardon?

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I'm looking for a Mr Shaw.

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Sorry?

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Can you open the door?

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The man seems reluctant to open up,

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but Tracy isn't going to give up that easily.

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Well, I've got this address for a Mr Shaw.

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It's Miss Lee speaking, from the Sheriffs Office, enforcement.

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The man behind the door tells Tracy Mr Shaw doesn't live here.

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He doesn't live here?

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So the vehicles outside don't belong to him?

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According to the man inside, they don't belong to Mr Shaw,

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but because the sheriffs believe the vehicles are Mr Shaw's,

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they have the power to remove them.

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If they're wrong, the onus will then be on the owner to prove the

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vehicles are theirs.

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The van's been left unlocked, so Adam checks inside.

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There's plenty of paperwork, but nothing to indicate who owns it.

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Meanwhile, Tracy's getting nowhere

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with the man who's apparently not Mr Shaw.

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He's shot up back upstairs, he's not having it.

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I think it's him, do you?

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-Yeah.

-Yeah, he wasn't prepared to open the door to speak to me.

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He said his name's Mr Lowe.

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Well, it's coincidental, isn't it?

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-Should we just clamp that up?

-Yeah.

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Let me go and see if I can speak to the neighbours.

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While Tracy goes to talk to other residents in the street,

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Adam decides to clamp the builder's van.

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There's no documentation, so I'm just going to clamp it,

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to see if we can get this gentleman to...

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show his identity to us.

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Adam goes ahead and clamps the van...

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..and then the second vehicle that's parked on the driveway.

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He's hoping that, by clamping both vehicles,

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he will persuade the man inside the property to open up and provide some

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evidence that he is or isn't Mr Shaw.

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Neighbours have told Tracy Mr Shaw does live at the address,

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and as far as they're aware, he hasn't moved out.

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I've just spoken to the neighbour -

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they've confirmed he lives here and that's his van.

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The two rules are, don't lie to me and don't ignore me.

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He's broken one, he's ignoring me,

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so he's getting off on the wrong foot.

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So the car's been clamped.

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He's going to be given 20 minutes to open that door

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and make a noise like...

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£3,917, otherwise I'll be removing this and it'll cost him more.

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With both vehicles clamped,

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the man finally opens the front door and admits he is Mr Shaw.

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He says he denied it earlier because he was startled by the early wake-up

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-call.

-Right, this is in relation to an outstanding debt on Mr Clark.

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We're here today to get this paid in full.

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£3,917.

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He says he's been off work and has no money.

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Right, Mr Shaw, I'm not accepting that. Do you want to just go inside?

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I'll give you 20 minutes to see what you can get together, and come out,

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before we take this any further. I'm giving you some time to...

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Whose are these vehicles?

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He says the van's his, but the car on the driveway belongs to his wife,

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and in any case, it has a loan secured against it.

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He's claiming that there's a loan on the vehicle that's on the drive,

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so he's gone to go and get that documentation to prove that.

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He still maintains there's absolutely no money available today,

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and I'm looking to put forward an

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offer of repayment via monthly instalments.

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The sheriffs know the van won't fetch much at auction

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and isn't worth removing.

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With no other assets in sight,

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a payment plan is looking like the best option for the sheriffs.

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They decide to wait and see what sort of offer Mr Shaw comes up with.

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-Let him sweat a bit.

-It's still freezing outside, but thankfully

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Adam's dressed for the occasion.

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Thermal underwear, thick-soled boots

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and occasionally...

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maybe two or three T-shirts under this shirt.

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Then a jumper, then a fleece, and then a coat.

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Tracy finds Adam's hat inside the van, and can't resist trying it on.

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-What do you think?

-Nice, isn't it?

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-Suits you.

-Does it suit me?

-SHE LAUGHS

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Mr Shaw reappears, with proof of the logbook loan against his

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wife's car. He offers to pay the

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money he owes at a rate of £200 a month.

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Right, the only way we're going to accept that is if we enter the

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property to do a controlled goods agreement.

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That's to list your items to secure the debt.

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Mr Shaw reluctantly agrees.

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Tracy goes inside to list assets

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and draw up a controlled goods agreement.

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The items listed will technically become the property of

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-the court until the debt's cleared.

-Thanks, bye-bye.

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-Bye-bye.

-Tracy remerges with a payment plan in place,

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but this has been a challenging enforcement for the sheriffs.

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Yes, a difficult one, this.

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I've done a controlled goods agreement, the van's gone on it,

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bits and pieces from within,

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and then the arrangement's been put forward for monthly payments.

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Unfortunately, that's...that's the best that we can do today.

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Richard Clark is relieved to finally be getting the money back

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that he paid out to complete the building work.

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I've heard from the sheriffs and it's good news.

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£200 a month, apparently, with a controlled goods agreement.

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I just hope he sticks to the agreement that he's made with the

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sheriffs, and...you know, we can

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move forward, and hopefully he'll learn a lesson.

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Richard has since got another builder in to finish the extension,

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and as far as he's concerned, it's all ended well.

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I'm relieved to be stood in here now, not having damp coming through

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the walls, not having leaks.

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It's a nice extension, and it's what we wanted.

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Using the County Courts to try

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and recover money you're owed isn't difficult.

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1.5 million money claims are paid every year in

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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, the County Court judgment, or CCJ,

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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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Today, High Court enforcement agents Mike Perkins and John Farley are

0:17:050:17:09

heading to Nuneaton in Warwickshire.

0:17:090:17:11

They're looking for a Mr Leonard Lippitt,

0:17:110:17:14

who has unpaid legal fees dating back more than a year.

0:17:140:17:18

Today won't be the first time Mr Lippitt's had a

0:17:180:17:20

visit from the sheriffs.

0:17:200:17:22

Tommy's already been on this case previously,

0:17:220:17:24

and he met with the defendant who

0:17:240:17:27

wasn't being very helpful at the time.

0:17:270:17:29

In fact, following that, Mr Lippitt

0:17:290:17:31

failed to pay back any of the money he owed.

0:17:310:17:34

Now, Mike and John are determined to finally sort it out.

0:17:340:17:38

Mike has a bad throat and is losing his voice,

0:17:380:17:41

but he's not going to let that stop him.

0:17:410:17:43

We all know what I'm like.

0:17:430:17:44

I don't like to mess about, I'm going to get the job done.

0:17:440:17:47

There is a vehicle that we're going to be looking for.

0:17:470:17:50

Tommy's done the relevant checks and whatnot.

0:17:500:17:53

The vehicle is free from finance,

0:17:530:17:55

so the sheriffs have got a simple plan.

0:17:550:17:57

They'll clamp Mr Lippitt's car

0:17:570:17:59

and use that as leverage to get the debt cleared.

0:17:590:18:02

The vehicle we're going to go and seize is a 4x4,

0:18:020:18:06

good condition, by all accounts,

0:18:060:18:08

and we'll immobilise it as soon as we get there,

0:18:080:18:11

and hopefully that'll prompt payment.

0:18:110:18:13

At least that's the theory.

0:18:130:18:15

The sheriffs know from experience

0:18:150:18:17

that enforcements don't always go to plan.

0:18:170:18:19

By the sounds of it, I think the guy...

0:18:190:18:22

may try and put up a bit of a fight.

0:18:220:18:24

Either way, if it's free from finance and he's not going to pay,

0:18:240:18:27

we'll just uplift it straightaway.

0:18:270:18:29

If the vehicle's not there, then we're going to struggle.

0:18:290:18:32

Fingers crossed it's going to be on the drive,

0:18:320:18:36

and we can execute the High Court writ.

0:18:360:18:39

The amount owed today is £6,794.

0:18:390:18:43

It's just down here, John.

0:18:440:18:46

-Hopefully it'll be on the drive, so...

-It's silver, isn't it?

-Yes.

0:18:460:18:51

The sheriffs edge their van slowly forward.

0:18:510:18:54

They want to see if there's a vehicle in Mr Lippitt's driveway

0:18:540:18:57

-without raising the alarm.

-Go on, be here, please.

0:18:570:19:01

And it's here. Look at that.

0:19:020:19:05

That is what we wanted to see.

0:19:050:19:07

Mike's keen to get the vehicle clamped before anyone realises

0:19:090:19:12

-they're there.

-Let's crack on. Where's your padlocks, mate?

0:19:120:19:15

In the back.

0:19:150:19:17

Once the vehicle is immobilised,

0:19:170:19:19

the sheriffs will have the leverage they need to get the debt cleared.

0:19:190:19:23

In a sense, we're holding all the aces...at the moment.

0:19:230:19:26

I've got my Aladdin's rug today, so that'll keep me...keep me dry.

0:19:290:19:32

With Mike busy securing the clamp, Mr Lippitt appears at the door.

0:19:350:19:40

-John Farley, from High Court enforcement.

-Yeah?

0:19:400:19:42

Looking for a Leonard Lippitt?

0:19:420:19:44

You're clamping somebody else's vehicle there, pal.

0:19:440:19:47

Mr Lippitt tells the sheriffs that the car parked on his driveway

0:19:470:19:50

doesn't belong to him, and he's off to find proof.

0:19:500:19:53

-We'd need to see proof of sale as well, John.

-Yeah.

0:19:530:19:58

So, would you like to remove that now, please?

0:19:580:20:00

-Let's have a look.

-All right.

0:20:000:20:02

-What's this?

-"You are no longer the registered keeper of the vehicle."

0:20:020:20:05

That's not proof of ownership.

0:20:050:20:06

There's the receipt...from the guy that bought it.

0:20:060:20:10

-Let's have a look.

-But the sheriffs don't think the receipt looks very

0:20:100:20:14

convincing. They want to see proof that the vehicle really has been

0:20:140:20:17

sold, and that the money has gone into his account.

0:20:170:20:20

-All right, all you need to do...

-You need to remove that vehicle...

0:20:200:20:23

-No. Sir...

-..or you're going to lose a clamp, pal, all right?

0:20:230:20:27

-Am I?

-Yes, you are.

-Mike doesn't take kindly to the threat to damage

0:20:270:20:30

or remove his clamp,

0:20:300:20:32

and says he intends to go ahead and get the vehicle removed.

0:20:320:20:36

John, do us a favour, bring a recovery truck.

0:20:360:20:38

-Sir...

-You need to check your details out!

0:20:380:20:41

You need to calm yourself down.

0:20:410:20:42

-I don't need to calm myself down at all!

-Yes, you do.

-OK, and what...

0:20:420:20:46

Mr Lippitt tells Mike the owner of the vehicle is on his way round.

0:20:460:20:50

-I need to see transfer of funds.

-You don't need to see nothing!

0:20:500:20:53

-Yes, I do.

-Pal, you are nothing! You're just civil, pal, so you take

0:20:530:20:58

that away from that vehicle,

0:20:580:21:01

and this guy will tell you the owner of it, and you'll remove it!

0:21:010:21:04

Mr Lippitt suddenly decides he doesn't want filming on his

0:21:040:21:07

-driveway.

-Goodbye. Move your camera.

-If I don't see...

0:21:070:21:11

If I don't see the relevant documentation...

0:21:110:21:13

Move the camera off my property, now! Get off that property, now!

0:21:130:21:16

We retreat to the public highway, but carry on filming.

0:21:160:21:20

The sheriffs are enforcing a High Court writ,

0:21:200:21:22

-and are entitled to stay put.

-Now, off my property!

0:21:220:21:25

-No.

-Now! Now!

-No.

-I'm telling you, walk off my property...

0:21:250:21:28

-Do me a favour, stay put...

-Walk off my property!

0:21:280:21:30

-Walk off my property now!

-And what are you going to do?

0:21:300:21:33

I'm telling you to get off, pal! I'm telling you to get off, pal!

0:21:330:21:37

Tempers are running high,

0:21:370:21:38

and Mike's worried things are about to boil over.

0:21:380:21:41

-Ring the police.

-Move off my property now!

0:21:410:21:44

-Ring the police.

-Get the

-BLEEP

-police! Move off my property now!

0:21:440:21:47

-Police, please.

-If you get any closer, sir,

0:21:470:21:49

I'm going to use reasonable force...

0:21:490:21:50

-Are you? Go on, then.

-..to remove you from me.

-Go on, then! Do it!

0:21:500:21:53

We've got an aggressive male in one of our agent's faces. I need

0:21:530:21:57

-police assistance urgently.

-Go on! Go on! Do it!

0:21:570:22:01

Later, with the police on their way, the vehicle immobilised and the

0:22:010:22:05

sheriffs standing their ground, a man turns up

0:22:050:22:08

claiming he owns the vehicle parked in Mr Lippitt's driveway.

0:22:080:22:12

-You can't take the truck though, can you?

-We can.

-There's nothing to say

0:22:120:22:15

that truck belongs to him. That truck belongs to me.

0:22:150:22:17

We can remove the truck if we've got reason to believe it's his.

0:22:170:22:20

It's my truck!

0:22:200:22:21

Today, High Court enforcement agents,

0:22:340:22:36

Rob Foster and Gerald Anderson,

0:22:360:22:38

are in central London, taking in the sights.

0:22:380:22:41

There's Big Ben there on the right.

0:22:410:22:43

Or Quiet Ben, as he's now known.

0:22:430:22:45

It's an icon. It's known throughout the world.

0:22:450:22:47

The sheriffs are looking for a company called

0:22:470:22:50

Matrix Office Furniture Limited.

0:22:500:22:52

A former employee claimed Matrix dismissed her without notice or

0:22:520:22:55

holiday pay. She took a case to an employment tribunal, and an award

0:22:550:23:00

was made in her favour.

0:23:000:23:02

The total amount owed today is £4,546.

0:23:020:23:07

We have had a telephone call from the director, who has stated

0:23:070:23:11

he can't pay this debt off in full.

0:23:110:23:13

He'd like a long-term arrangement.

0:23:130:23:15

But the sheriffs aren't interested in a long-term arrangement.

0:23:150:23:19

They want a much shorter term arrangement -

0:23:190:23:21

immediate payment in full.

0:23:210:23:23

Gerald has been doing his homework, and has found out some interesting

0:23:230:23:26

facts about Matrix Office Furniture.

0:23:260:23:29

I've done a little bit of background on the company.

0:23:290:23:31

I can see that the company has changed names on several occasions,

0:23:310:23:35

back and forth, to different company names.

0:23:350:23:37

Matrix Office Furniture is the name on the High Court writ, and is

0:23:370:23:41

liable for the debt.

0:23:410:23:43

But the director, in his call to the Sheriffs Office, claimed it no

0:23:430:23:47

longer exists, and a new company has taken its place.

0:23:470:23:50

If that's the case, the sheriffs may not be able to remove assets.

0:23:500:23:55

At least the sign above the door looks hopeful.

0:23:550:23:58

Hello. Is this Matrix?

0:23:580:24:01

Gerald asks for the director, a Mr Simon Lo Gatto.

0:24:010:24:05

-Hello, Simon.

-Hi.

-My name's Mr Anderson.

0:24:050:24:08

Mr Lo Gatto doesn't look particularly pleased to see the

0:24:100:24:12

sheriffs, and even less pleased to see our camera.

0:24:120:24:15

We leave the shop and continue to film from the street.

0:24:180:24:21

How are we going to sort this, then?

0:24:210:24:23

Mr Lo Gatto tells the sheriffs he can't clear the debt, and the assets

0:24:230:24:26

in the shop belong to a different company -

0:24:260:24:28

Trinity Office Furniture Limited.

0:24:280:24:31

Luckily, Rob and Gerald have already checked his story out.

0:24:310:24:34

-It doesn't exist.

-We've been on Companies House.

0:24:340:24:36

There's no sign of that company at all.

0:24:360:24:38

Mr Lo Gatto has an explanation.

0:24:380:24:40

Apparently, Trinity has also changed its name and is now called

0:24:400:24:44

Matrix Office Interiors Limited. All very confusing.

0:24:440:24:48

Essentially, all we're interested in is payment in full or removal of

0:24:480:24:51

-goods.

-Mr Lo Gatto says they can't remove the goods because they don't

0:24:510:24:54

belong to Matrix Office Furniture.

0:24:540:24:57

Apparently, ownership has been transferred to the new company.

0:24:570:25:00

Give your accountant a ring. See if you can get the paperwork through on

0:25:000:25:03

proof of transfer. For a limited company, it'll be your accountant,

0:25:030:25:05

-won't it?

-But Mr Lo Gatto doesn't produce the necessary paperwork,

0:25:050:25:09

and Rob's starting to lose patience.

0:25:090:25:11

At the moment, your balance is £4,546.

0:25:110:25:14

I'll give you one last chance to pay it now, or we'll go to the next

0:25:140:25:18

stage and start listing goods. It'll go to 5,140.

0:25:180:25:21

You'll then have a further couple of minutes once we've finished that

0:25:210:25:24

paperwork. If you don't, it'll go up to over £6,000.

0:25:240:25:26

Rob and Gerald believe Matrix Office Furniture is trading here.

0:25:260:25:30

They're entitled to carry out a diligent search of the premises in

0:25:300:25:34

order to find assets or establish who owns them.

0:25:340:25:37

Rob decides to start with Mr Lo Gatto's office.

0:25:370:25:41

Now, I'm going to go through paperwork and I'm going to see what

0:25:410:25:44

information you've got here relating to this company.

0:25:440:25:47

But Mr Lo Gatto doesn't seem happy with the development.

0:25:470:25:50

As per a High Court writ, I'm entitled to search the office,

0:25:500:25:52

-all right?

-Mr Lo Gatto wants Rob to leave his office.

0:25:520:25:56

Rob tells him that obstructing a sheriff in the course of his duty is

0:25:560:25:59

a criminal offence.

0:25:590:26:01

What has happened is Rob's gone into the office and started rooting

0:26:010:26:04

around through the paperwork.

0:26:040:26:06

The director of the defending company has got certainly annoyed

0:26:060:26:09

with this. He's got into Rob's personal space.

0:26:090:26:12

Rob has told him that if he does not pay, he will escalate this.

0:26:120:26:15

Back in the showroom,

0:26:150:26:17

Rob and Gerald notice some boxes stacked up right by the open door.

0:26:170:26:22

They walk over to investigate.

0:26:220:26:24

-"Matrix Office Furniture."

-Yeah.

-"Matrix Office Furniture Limited."

0:26:240:26:28

-Yeah. "Client, Matrix Office Furniture."

-It's vital evidence.

0:26:280:26:32

-Invoices here. "Delivery address, Matrix Office Furniture."

-Yeah.

0:26:320:26:36

These packages have only recently been delivered, and they're

0:26:360:26:40

addressed to Matrix Office Furniture Limited -

0:26:400:26:43

the company on the writ.

0:26:430:26:45

So we've got one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight,

0:26:450:26:49

about ten boxes here, all addressed to...

0:26:490:26:52

Matrix Office Furniture Limited.

0:26:540:26:56

That tells us that the company is still trading.

0:26:560:27:00

Mr Lo Gatto says he's trying to

0:27:010:27:02

raise funds to clear the debt, but needs more time. He also claims

0:27:020:27:06

these goods have already been bought and paid for by clients, so can't be

0:27:060:27:11

removed by the sheriffs.

0:27:110:27:13

Rob doesn't agree.

0:27:130:27:14

It's got your company name on it, delivered to this address.

0:27:140:27:17

You said these have been sold to whoever they sell...

0:27:170:27:19

-Show us the invoice.

-The sheriffs have now escalated the enforcement

0:27:190:27:23

to stage two, and are starting to list assets for removal.

0:27:230:27:27

One, two, three, four, five, six,

0:27:270:27:30

seven, eight, nine, ten.

0:27:300:27:32

What do you call them? Counters, desks?

0:27:320:27:34

-Office tables.

-Yeah.

0:27:340:27:37

Gerald comes outside to give us another update.

0:27:370:27:39

Rob has escalated it to enforcement stage two.

0:27:390:27:42

He's still denying things belong to him, but he is in the process now of

0:27:420:27:47

speaking to accountants, friends,

0:27:470:27:49

family etc, to raise funds so he

0:27:490:27:51

can make payment in full of this debt.

0:27:510:27:54

Finally, Mr Lo Gatto announces he

0:27:540:27:57

can clear the debt - a total of £5,140.

0:27:570:28:01

That includes the extra costs incurred during today's enforcement.

0:28:010:28:05

Hello. I just want to find out if a payment has entered our account.

0:28:050:28:10

Lovely, perfect. Yeah, brilliant. Thank you very much.

0:28:100:28:13

-OK, sir.

-Cheers, bye-bye.

-Bye-bye. Thank you.

0:28:130:28:16

Payment confirmed, the sheriffs leave.

0:28:160:28:19

All in all, a great result. Absolutely chuffed. We've sent him a

0:28:190:28:22

payment link and he's paid it in full.

0:28:220:28:25

Reluctantly, but he has settled the balance in full.

0:28:250:28:29

The former Matrix Office Furniture employee,

0:28:290:28:32

who was dismissed without notice will now get the money she's owed.

0:28:320:28:35

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

0:28:450:28:48

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

0:28:480:28:53

which will issue a writ for enforcement by the sheriffs.

0:28:530:28:56

-Hello.

-I'm an enforcement agent enforcing a High Court writ.

0:28:560:29:00

I'm here just to execute the court order.

0:29:000:29:02

They've got more powers than County Court bailiffs.

0:29:020:29:05

We're going to force entry into the shop in about the next ten,

0:29:050:29:08

-15 minutes.

-I have the right, under the writ, to investigate.

0:29:080:29:12

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

0:29:120:29:16

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

0:29:160:29:19

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

0:29:200:29:23

You can pay it directly into our account from Spain.

0:29:230:29:26

If they're successful,

0:29:260:29:27

they will recover your money and costs from the debtor...

0:29:270:29:30

-Thanks.

-Thank you.

-..as well as their own fees that are

0:29:300:29:33

set by the government.

0:29:330:29:35

It was that amount there until 5:30.

0:29:350:29:38

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

0:29:380:29:41

If the sheriffs can't get your money,

0:29:410:29:43

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

0:29:430:29:47

Back in Nuneaton, the car in Leonard Lippitt's driveway has been clamped.

0:29:540:29:59

He claims the car's not his...

0:29:590:30:01

You're clamping somebody else's vehicle there, pal.

0:30:010:30:03

-..but the sheriffs aren't convinced.

-Yeah, we need to see proof of whose

0:30:030:30:06

-it is.

-And with tempers boiling over...

0:30:060:30:08

Walk off my property! Walk off my property now!

0:30:080:30:11

-And what are you going to do?

-..the police are on their way.

0:30:110:30:14

If you get any closer, sir, I'm going to use reasonable force...

0:30:140:30:16

-Are you? Go on, then!

-..to remove you from me.

-Go on, then! Do it!

0:30:160:30:19

We've got an aggressive male in one of our agent's faces.

0:30:190:30:22

I need police assistance urgently.

0:30:220:30:24

Go on! Go on, go on! Do it!

0:30:240:30:27

Mike's determined to enforce the writ and is entitled to remain on

0:30:270:30:30

-the driveway.

-I'm asking you to move now!

-I'm not going to move anywhere.

0:30:300:30:34

-You are.

-I'm not.

-You are, pal, you are.

-I'm not.

0:30:340:30:37

Are the police en route now? Perfect, OK.

0:30:370:30:39

With John on the phone to the police,

0:30:410:30:43

the man who Mr Lippitt says owns the vehicle turns up.

0:30:430:30:47

I've sold it to this guy. Now move!

0:30:470:30:49

We need to see proof, mate, all right?

0:30:490:30:51

We need to see the transfer of funds, please.

0:30:510:30:54

He hands Mike the vehicle registration document,

0:30:540:30:57

which names him as the registered keeper, but that doesn't necessarily

0:30:570:31:00

mean he's the owner.

0:31:000:31:02

-I'm sorry, a V5 doesn't prove ownership.

-What do you mean?

0:31:020:31:04

-The document's not...

-You can't take the truck, though, can you?

0:31:040:31:08

-We can.

-Mike explains to the man

0:31:080:31:09

that if the vehicle is removed today,

0:31:090:31:11

he can make what's known as a third-party claim, and if he can

0:31:110:31:14

prove ownership, he'll get it back.

0:31:140:31:16

But Mike isn't convinced he is the owner.

0:31:160:31:20

We can remove the truck if we've got reason to believe it's his.

0:31:200:31:22

-It's my truck!

-And you'll have seven days to get all the relevant

0:31:220:31:25

documentation into the office, OK, to prove that that vehicle is yours.

0:31:250:31:30

As things stand, the sheriffs are planning to remove the vehicle.

0:31:300:31:33

We've seen a typed-up invoice - invoice number one -

0:31:330:31:37

just saying that vehicle's been sold.

0:31:370:31:40

It's not good enough proof, and they're saying it's a cash sale.

0:31:400:31:42

Then let's see proof of those funds actually being transferred into

0:31:420:31:45

someone's bank account, then. If not, they can put all that

0:31:450:31:48

relevant proof to the courts and go down the full,

0:31:480:31:51

official third-party claim route.

0:31:510:31:53

If you're going to take his vehicle illegally,

0:31:530:31:55

we're going to call the police to say that you've nicked it.

0:31:550:31:57

-That's fine.

-All right?

-We've got a High Court writ.

-Right.

0:31:570:32:00

In fact, the police are already on their way.

0:32:000:32:02

There's an uneasy truce on the driveway,

0:32:040:32:07

but the call handler has asked John to stay on the line and keep them

0:32:070:32:11

-updated.

-In the house, there's the male, Leonard,

0:32:110:32:14

and then there's also another male in the property.

0:32:140:32:17

And then another three males have turned up in another vehicle.

0:32:170:32:20

Minutes later, the police arrive.

0:32:200:32:23

Thank you for your attendance as quick as you could.

0:32:230:32:25

-There's my identification.

-Yeah.

-How are you doing?

0:32:250:32:28

OK, there's my High Court writ, stamped, sealed and whatnot.

0:32:280:32:31

Mike gives the officers some background.

0:32:310:32:34

They've shown us an invoice, 001, that's been written out.

0:32:340:32:38

They haven't shown us a transfer of sale.

0:32:380:32:41

The vehicle is going to be going.

0:32:410:32:43

So, are you getting rid of that vehicle today, are you?

0:32:430:32:45

Yeah, unless they pay the bill.

0:32:450:32:47

The police go inside to talk to Mr Lippitt.

0:32:470:32:50

I'm hoping the police have calmed him down so we can have a decent

0:32:500:32:53

chat with the gentleman and give him the opportunity to pay the balance

0:32:530:32:58

before it goes any further.

0:32:580:33:01

The sheriffs have held off calling a removal vehicle, because that would

0:33:010:33:05

incur costs and increase the size of the debt.

0:33:050:33:08

With the police still in attendance,

0:33:080:33:10

Mike tries talking to Mr Lippitt one more time.

0:33:100:33:13

Mr Lippitt.

0:33:130:33:15

OK, you've got two options, OK?

0:33:150:33:17

You can either pay the balance at the moment...

0:33:180:33:21

If we can't get that, OK, then the vehicle will be going and

0:33:210:33:24

then you have seven days to put in the relevant third-party claim to

0:33:240:33:28

prove ownership. OK, so, at the moment,

0:33:280:33:32

the balance is £6,794.06.

0:33:320:33:37

OK, can you pay that now?

0:33:370:33:39

I can give you ten, 15 minutes to have a think about it.

0:33:390:33:42

It quickly becomes clear Mr Lippitt is still refusing to pay the money he owes.

0:33:420:33:45

-We'll remove the...

-Right, I don't know why you're standing there, pal.

0:33:450:33:48

-Go.

-We'll remove the vehicle, then, because you're refusing to pay. OK, that's fine.

0:33:480:33:53

I tried to negotiate with the gentleman.

0:33:540:33:57

He's being...not very forthcoming.

0:33:570:33:59

He's not...not helping the situation and whatnot, so, yeah,

0:33:590:34:03

we're just going to remove the vehicle.

0:34:030:34:06

But there's a problem -

0:34:060:34:08

snow has fallen across much of the Midlands,

0:34:080:34:11

causing chaos on the roads and all their usual recovery firms are busy.

0:34:110:34:15

Hi there. Just wondering what your availability is for a recovery?

0:34:160:34:19

John's on the line to a recovery firm when events take a sudden turn.

0:34:190:34:23

John, John. Hold the line.

0:34:230:34:25

Mr Lippitt calls Mike over.

0:34:250:34:28

I need £6,794, and then we'll stop the recovery.

0:34:280:34:31

He's on the phone to the recovery.

0:34:310:34:33

I need to know in the next ten minutes.

0:34:330:34:35

I need to know in ten minutes.

0:34:350:34:37

It seems Mr Lippitt has decided he may be prepared to pay after all.

0:34:370:34:41

John.

0:34:410:34:43

Hold fire.

0:34:430:34:45

He's offered to pay £5,500, but Mike wants payment in full.

0:34:450:34:50

-It hits home when they know it's happening.

-Yeah.

0:34:500:34:53

Just then the sheriffs are called over a second time.

0:34:530:34:58

This time Mr Lippitt says he's

0:34:580:35:01

arranged to make payment in full, all £6,794.

0:35:010:35:05

John gets the necessary paperwork from the van.

0:35:050:35:08

Yeah, it looks like we're in business.

0:35:080:35:10

Just trying to get the bank details together.

0:35:100:35:13

Eventually, after two visits from the sheriffs and a stand-off

0:35:130:35:16

on Mr Lippitt's driveway...

0:35:160:35:19

-'How much is he looking for?'

-£6,794.06.

0:35:190:35:24

-..he finally clears the debt.

-'Yep, we've got that.'

0:35:240:35:27

-Thank you very much.

-The payment's confirmed,

0:35:270:35:30

so out comes Mike's magic carpet.

0:35:300:35:33

He's worried about getting dirty,

0:35:330:35:35

and he thinks he's Aladdin, so this is his flying rug.

0:35:350:35:38

And off comes the clamp.

0:35:410:35:42

Ta-ta for now.

0:35:430:35:46

Thank you very much. See you later.

0:35:460:35:49

I love being abused.

0:35:520:35:54

Excellent. Flying the carpet.

0:35:560:35:58

All in all, a good result, good job, happy claimant.

0:36:060:36:09

The writ's there to be enforced and that's what got done.

0:36:090:36:13

Move on to the next one.

0:36:130:36:14

It's midday, and Rob and Gerald are in Streatham, South London,

0:36:310:36:35

heading for the Hamlet bar and restaurant

0:36:350:36:38

in pursuit of an unpaid debt.

0:36:380:36:39

The claimant has given us some information.

0:36:390:36:43

He's told us the address that we're attending

0:36:430:36:46

is the trading address for the defendant.

0:36:460:36:49

The claimant is a former employee who wasn't paid the

0:36:490:36:53

wages he was due. He took his boss, Bukurie Ibro,

0:36:530:36:57

to court, and a judgment was issued in his favour.

0:36:570:37:00

Miss Ibro was ordered to pay the money at a rate of £300

0:37:000:37:04

a month, but she didn't make the payments.

0:37:040:37:07

So the case was escalated to the High Court, and now the sheriffs are

0:37:070:37:11

on their way to track her down.

0:37:110:37:13

The amount owed today is £3,121.

0:37:130:37:17

Oh, there it is.

0:37:190:37:21

It doesn't open until 2pm, so...

0:37:210:37:24

The shutters are down and it looks like it's not due to open for a

0:37:240:37:26

couple of hours.

0:37:260:37:29

Right, there's no doorbell, no way in.

0:37:290:37:32

Because it's a commercial premises, the sheriffs could force entry,

0:37:320:37:36

but they have a contact number for Bukurie Ibro,

0:37:360:37:39

so Rob gives her a call.

0:37:390:37:40

Hi, it's Mr Foster from the Sheriffs Office, it is.

0:37:420:37:45

He starts to explain the reason for his call, then, suddenly,

0:37:450:37:48

-he loses the connection.

-Hello, can you hear me?

0:37:480:37:52

BLEEPING

0:37:520:37:55

-Oooh.

-Rob calls her back straightaway...

0:37:550:37:57

INTERNAL RINGTONE

0:37:570:38:01

..but this time there's no answer.

0:38:010:38:03

He suspects she's put the phone down on him,

0:38:040:38:07

so he leaves a message on her voicemail.

0:38:070:38:09

Miss Ibro, as soon as I identified who I was, you hung up the phone.

0:38:100:38:14

Just to advise, we are currently outside The Hamlet.

0:38:140:38:17

Ring me back to rectify this matter

0:38:170:38:19

or we will just go ahead and get a locksmith and force entry to your

0:38:190:38:22

restaurant and remove the goods inside, whether you are here or not.

0:38:220:38:26

Please give me a call back immediately. Thank you.

0:38:260:38:29

Gerald then tries to call from his phone, because she won't recognise

0:38:310:38:34

his number, but he can't get an answer either.

0:38:340:38:37

Despite this, they decide to give Miss Ibro time to turn up in person

0:38:390:38:43

-and clear the debt.

-If those shutters aren't open at 2pm,

0:38:430:38:47

then I think that's the point at which we'll call a locksmith and

0:38:470:38:49

just crack on, otherwise it could be a bit of a wasted journey.

0:38:490:38:53

INTERNAL RINGTONE

0:38:530:38:55

Gerald gives her one more chance to answer the phone.

0:38:550:38:58

This time, to his surprise, she does.

0:38:580:39:01

Hi, my name's Mr Anderson,

0:39:010:39:02

I'm an enforcement agent around at The Hamlet.

0:39:020:39:06

Are you on your way here now?

0:39:060:39:08

If you're not going to come here and sort this out,

0:39:080:39:11

I've got a writ of control that I will execute.

0:39:110:39:15

I'm hoping to sort this out with you before you open,

0:39:150:39:19

so if you could make your way here, we can get this resolved.

0:39:190:39:23

She tells Gerald she's an employee at the bar, and he needs to talk to

0:39:230:39:26

the owner of the company. But Gerald's done his homework and he

0:39:260:39:30

-knows different.

-You are the director of that company.

0:39:300:39:34

I have a writ against you personally.

0:39:340:39:38

Gerald wants the debtor to understand just how serious the

0:39:380:39:41

situation is.

0:39:410:39:43

I would suggest, if you are on a day off or not, I would come here,

0:39:430:39:47

because if the place doesn't open, I will open it.

0:39:470:39:50

I'm giving you the chance of coming here to sort this debt out.

0:39:500:39:54

If you do not come here, I will open up this place.

0:39:540:39:58

It's your choice. You've got a debt, you need to sort it.

0:39:580:40:01

Eventually, Bukurie Ibro says she'll be there in 15 minutes.

0:40:010:40:05

The sheriffs sit in their van,

0:40:050:40:07

parked a few yards up the road, and wait.

0:40:070:40:10

Yeah, at the moment, I'm sat here people-watching.

0:40:100:40:13

I'm actually trying to look and see if I can spot her before she arrives

0:40:130:40:17

-at the property.

-Right on cue, they see Bukurie Ibro opening up...

0:40:170:40:22

-Is that the one we're after, is it?

-Yeah.

-..and they leap into action.

0:40:220:40:26

Hello.

0:40:260:40:27

Rob gets to her just in time, and puts his foot in the door to prevent

0:40:280:40:32

-her locking them out.

-Hello.

0:40:320:40:35

I'm a High Court enforcement agent.

0:40:350:40:37

I'm a High Court enforcement agent, don't shut the door on me.

0:40:370:40:40

I don't understand, no.

0:40:400:40:41

My foot is staying in the door, it's not going anywhere.

0:40:410:40:43

She's on the phone to her solicitor.

0:40:430:40:45

Rob explains again the reason for their visit.

0:40:450:40:48

There's my identification.

0:40:480:40:51

We're here, we're here with a High Court writ.

0:40:510:40:53

She says she'll talk to the sheriffs but doesn't want to let the camera

0:40:530:40:56

-inside.

-I can come in and speak to you, he can stay out here if you

0:40:560:40:59

want, that's fine. Yeah. All right?

0:40:590:41:01

Yeah, he'll stay out here. He'll film from out here, then, all right?

0:41:010:41:05

Well, can you let me in, then, please?

0:41:050:41:07

Can you let me in, then, please? Thank you.

0:41:070:41:09

She lets Rob and Gerald in, and hands Rob the phone so he can speak

0:41:090:41:13

to her solicitor.

0:41:130:41:14

Rob explains to the solicitor that Bukurie Ibro had previously failed

0:41:160:41:20

to keep to a payment plan to clear the debt.

0:41:200:41:23

She had the arrangement through the court. She failed to maintain that

0:41:230:41:26

arrangement, and that was an arrangement that she was aware of.

0:41:260:41:29

He tells the solicitor the best option now is to clear

0:41:290:41:32

-the debt in full.

-As of today, the balance, if you pay it now

0:41:320:41:36

and agree to pay now, it's £3,120.73.

0:41:360:41:39

And that will be the end of it, gone, finished.

0:41:390:41:42

But that's as long as she agrees to pay it now.

0:41:420:41:44

If I've got to start walking around and listing assets, it goes up.

0:41:440:41:47

Rob hands the phone back to Miss Ibro, and shortly afterwards,

0:41:470:41:50

she agrees to clear the debt.

0:41:500:41:52

Gerald emerges with an update.

0:41:520:41:54

It's going to plan at the moment.

0:41:540:41:57

No real readies in my hand yet,

0:41:570:41:59

but she's trying to do half the

0:41:590:42:02

payment on the automated payment line,

0:42:020:42:05

and she's going to do the other half by card.

0:42:050:42:09

I'm just going to get my PDQ machine

0:42:090:42:12

and hopefully should be out of there within the next ten.

0:42:120:42:16

Gerald's prediction turns out to be correct.

0:42:180:42:21

Ten minutes later, the sheriffs have secured payment in full.

0:42:210:42:24

-Thanks now, bye-bye.

-Cheers, thank you. Take care, ta-ra.

0:42:240:42:28

A successful outcome on this one.

0:42:300:42:32

They weren't too happy with us at the beginning, as you saw with

0:42:320:42:35

the foot in the door, however they did eventually let us in.

0:42:350:42:38

We have now had settlement.

0:42:380:42:40

They made a fast BACS payment into our account,

0:42:400:42:42

settling the balance in full.

0:42:420:42:44

That's a total payment of £3,121,

0:42:440:42:49

which means the former employee will finally get his unpaid wages.

0:42:490:42:53

A family paid thousands of pounds to have an extension built on to their home. The work was started but never completed, which meant they had to pay someone else to finish the job. Tracy and Adam track down the builder responsible, but will he pay the family back the money he owes them?

Police back-up is called when sheriff Mike clamps a 4x4 vehicle and then stands his ground in a furious showdown with the debtor.

And Rob puts his foot in the door to prevent a bar owner from locking him out.