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Meet the sheriffs.
My name's Mr Grix. My colleague and I are enforcement agents.
Here with a High Court order today.
They work for the High Court,
and if a judge says you're owed money,
it's the sheriffs' job to go and get it.
Hey, all the keys!
I'm going to be calling a locksmith.
They can demand payment on the spot...
What can you pay us now?
-You're going to get the cash, are you?
-Are you paying the bill?
..or remove assets instead.
You've got 30 minutes to make the payment.
Then we'll start removing stuff from the building.
You'll have a week to pay in full before it gets sold at auction.
Obstructing their work can be a criminal offence.
-I wouldn't do that, if I were you.
-Don't lie to me.
Every year, sheriffs in England and Wales recover unpaid debts
totalling more than £80 million.
Coming up... Ben Anderson's two-year-old son narrowly escaped
serious injury when a car drove into their vehicle.
Luckily, he slept with his legs tucked up.
If he hadn't, they would have got crushed.
The insurance company didn't pay out,
and the sheriffs are in no mood to stand in line.
We're here to execute a High Court writ.
OK, thank you.
When a supermarket boss refuses to clear his debt,
Tracy threatens to clear his shelves.
And there's been an order issued for us to recover this money today.
Otherwise, we will be removing goods.
Mike lays down the law to a firm of solicitors.
No, no, no, no,
you've just said exactly the same to my colleague, OK?
You have got 30 minutes to make payment in full.
Susan Carolan spent thousands of pounds on a garden summerhouse.
The first time it rained, the water just absolutely poured through.
When the man who sold it says he can't pay her back,
Tracy and Dave get the clamp out.
It's seven o'clock in the morning, and enforcement agents Tracy Lee
and Dave Steele are in Cheshire, heading to a debtor's home address.
This morning, we're in Macclesfield,
hoping to meet up with a Mr Richard Lovenbury.
This debt is in relation to some faulty building works done.
From looking at the notes, it seems to be in relation to a summerhouse
that the defendant's fitted for the client,
and it seems that the client's not been happy
with the service provided.
The money is owed to disabled pensioner Susan Carolan.
She decided to have a 32-foot summerhouse built
at the top of her garden
to provide a comfortable retreat for her 92-year-old father.
I got a few quotes, you know, from different people.
I didn't really know anything about sheds.
One of the people who came out to look at the job and quote for it
was Richard Lovenbury.
And as far as Susan was concerned, he made a good first impression.
Oh, I thought he was lovely.
Very nice, very presentable as well.
He was talking about his children, family man sort of thing, you know,
Susan was also impressed with the quality of his work.
He actually opened up in one of the garden centres,
and he had buildings on display there.
Richard Lovenbury quoted
for the construction and painting of Susan's summerhouse.
The total cost would be nearly £5,000.
He said that he would give me a five-year guarantee,
so it was all rather convincing, you know.
The base was laid and construction of the summerhouse got underway.
But Susan was unable to keep an eye on the work.
I should have come up when they were putting the base down,
but I was ill at the time.
I am disabled.
..you know, bad arthritis.
I have trouble walking sometimes, you know, with my legs and hips.
When Susan did finally see the summerhouse, her heart sank.
It had been painted pink,
not the apricot crush colour she had asked for.
It was dreadful, the painting on it.
It looked like pink undercoat, to be quite honest.
I was quite shocked.
But Susan was even more upset by flaws in the way
the summerhouse had been constructed.
The base hadn't been laid properly.
I said, "But that base is not level,
"and the building's not level, and it's all out of sync, you know,
"and it's leaning backwards."
Susan could see the shed didn't line up to the fence,
and the roof wasn't up to much either.
The first time it rained, the water just absolutely poured through.
And the materials were below the
standard she and Mr Lovenbury had agreed to.
I'd ordered 16mm wood and only got 11mm wood.
It was upsetting to know that you'd been ripped off.
It was embarrassing, really.
It was not just my money,
it was Dad's money as well, and it was something for him, you know,
this disabled garden.
She had an independent survey carried out
which confirmed her fears.
The summerhouse Mr Lovenbury had supplied
was finished to a poor standard and wasn't fit for purpose.
When I kept complaining, Lovenbury said, "It's not my responsibility,
"it's the manufacturer's."
They said, "It's not our responsibility, it's Lovenbury."
So, for about a year, it just went backwards and forwards.
Eventually, she decided to take both Mr Lovenbury and the manufacturers
to the Small Claims Court in an attempt to get her money back.
As proceedings got underway,
Richard Lovenbury made an admission that took Susan by surprise.
He just stood up in court and said, "I want to admit to everything.
"It's all my responsibility."
The claim against the manufacturers was dropped, and Mr Lovenbury was
ordered to pay back the money Susan had spent on the summerhouse.
But she still didn't receive it, so, in desperation, she transferred
the case up to the High Court and called in the sheriffs.
I thought, "There's no way I can deal with him,
"trying to get money every month."
So that's why I put it up to the sheriffs.
With court costs and fees, Susan is now owed £6,168.
It's now down to Tracy and Dave to get Susan what she's owed.
As they get close to Mr Lovenbury's address,
Tracy is on the lookout for one asset in particular.
The file says Mr Lovenbury drives a BMW
that should be worth enough to cover the debt.
The RBM's tidy.
Tracy makes sure it's not going anywhere.
I'm just going to grab this clamp to try and get this on
before we get a response at the door.
Dave goes to introduce himself,
but it looks like whoever's inside has seen him coming.
Somebody just opened the curtains and had a look,
possibly the defendant.
So he's up and about, so I think he's seen us,
he knows what's going on,
so let's see if he's going to answer the door.
By the time Tracy's finished with the clamp, the door opens.
Good morning, it's Mr Steele from the Sheriffs Office.
Would you ask Mr Lovenbury to come to the door, please?
It's the debtor's partner.
Moments later, Mr Lovenbury appears in the doorway.
-Good morning, Mr Lovenbury...
-Who's the camera?
You'd better ask the gentleman, not me.
We're filming for a BBC One documentary series
-called The Sheriffs Are Coming.
-Right. Can you go away?
Tracy and Dave are invited in,
but we leave Mr Lovenbury's property and film from the road.
Inside, the sheriffs explain they've come to collect Susan's money.
Right, obviously, you're aware of the debt for Susan Carolan.
What is your position of getting it settled?
Mr Lovenbury tells Dave he's tried to set up a payment plan,
but the sheriffs can't agree to one
without making sure it's a good deal for Susan.
They need to view and assess his assets.
The shed salesman says he's only recently back at work after a period
of absence, and offers to pay just £100 a month.
But, with £6,168 outstanding,
it would take years to clear the debt at that rate.
The sheriffs know Susan wants her money sooner than that
and Tracy asks about the vehicle outside the property.
There is a Ford car parked next to the BMW on their list
that apparently belongs to the debtor,
but it's 14 years old and probably worth less at auction
than the cost of removing it.
The BMW is worth considerably more,
but his partner says it belongs to her and that it's on finance.
She also tells Tracy the house is hers alone
and so are all the goods inside it.
Unfortunately, it looks like everything belongs to his partner.
The tenancy agreement is in her name.
We're just waiting to get the papers for the vehicle on finance.
It's her car, and, sadly, he has
been out of work for quite some time.
He's stating that there is nothing at all available today,
and he's looking to put forward a proposal on a monthly basis.
The tenancy agreement checks out,
so Dave calls the office to make sure what they've been told about
the vehicle is correct.
-There's no finance attached.
-It's on finance, but it's not.
Well, I know it's not on finance.
-Well, why did they say it was?
-It's not, is it?
Well, yeah. It's his car, I'm telling you.
If the car had been on finance, the sheriffs couldn't take it.
Tracy has a hunch that the reason they were told it was
must be that the car belongs to the debtor himself.
We've just telephoned the office and it's showing free from finance,
so you've lied to me there.
I need the DVLA papers or it's going to be removed.
For a moment, it looks like the sheriffs are going to be able
to take the car, sell it and pay Susan some of her money back.
Have you found it?
The V5 document doesn't prove ownership, but with other paperwork
in the woman's name, Tracy has changed her mind.
I shall go and give her this back and take the clamp off.
So the sheriffs are now convinced it is her car,
and that means they are left with nothing of value to take control of.
With no leverage, it's back to a payment arrangement.
Dave is inside the house and continues to push for the best deal
possible for Susan.
It's up to the client if they're going to accept any arrangement,
so it may work for you if you can get some form of a lump sum.
So, what can you pay today, Mr Lovenbury? Can you pay anything?
Eventually, Mr Lovenbury comes up with £150,
and his partner transfers another 200.
They agree he'll continue to pay 150 a month.
That's as much as we can push it.
There's no assets to have any leverage with.
It's better than nothing, and Dave plans to review the arrangement
after six months, with a view to increasing the payments.
Susan's happy they've done as much as they can.
They'll collect the money, and if he doesn't pay,
they'll go back round and see him.
-I think the sheriffs are really great, good guys.
Using the County Courts to try and recover money you're owed
isn't difficult. 1.5 million money claims are paid every year in
England and Wales, involving anything from faulty goods
or poor workmanship to unpaid invoices.
Claims can be filed online, or by post for a small fee.
Both parties in the case will be asked to submit evidence,
and you may have to attend a court hearing.
If you're successful,
a County Court Judgment, or CCJ, will be issued against the debtor.
If they still don't pay, that's when you call the sheriffs.
High Court enforcement agents Tracy Lee and Adam Crossley
are in West Yorkshire in pursuit of an unpaid bill.
We're off to a supermarket - Dong Dong Oriental Supermarket.
It looks like it's from a supplier.
The supermarket was taken to court
when it failed to pay for a delivery of goods.
The claim wasn't contested
and a judgment was made in favour of the supplier.
When they still didn't get paid,
it was transferred to the High Court for enforcement.
Today, it's Tracy and Adam's job to get what's owed.
We're looking to recover just over £2,000.
Well, we're here.
Adam and Tracy head inside and there's an employee at the checkout.
Hello, could I speak to the proprietor, please?
Is the owner here?
Fortunately, the boss is here,
and moments later he emerges from the back of the shop.
-High Court enforcement agent.
I'm here with an unpaid debt.
He's shown the paperwork and seems to know about the amount.
It's for 2,129.
What do you mean, no?
The cause of the dispute is no concern of Tracy's.
She wastes no time explaining what it means
when sheriffs arrive at the door with a writ.
This has been through court, and there has been an order issued
for us to recover this money today, otherwise we will be removing goods.
So, are you in a position to pay this in full
before I start listing goods with a view to removing?
Right, if you've got a dispute,
you're going to have to deal with it down the correct channels.
I am not here today to dispute this with you, I'm here to enforce it.
You can call who you want, but this needs to be paid.
I'm going to give you 20 minutes.
If this isn't paid, I'll start listing.
And if Tracy does start listing items to be removed,
the amount they owe will go up.
At this point, the boss asks us to leave the shop,
so we continue to film from the roadside.
It sounds as if Tracy's message may be starting to get through.
As it stands, there is a live writ which I'm here today
to enforce and collect on.
The boss tells Tracy he will pay the debt.
Yeah, you can pay it by card.
Adam comes outside to update us.
I think he's contacting his wife. He's disputing it.
We're just waiting for a credit card or a debit card to appear
to get it paid in full, so we'll keep you updated on that.
Adam goes back to join Tracy, but instead of the money,
it's the boss's wife that appears.
She wants to see the original County Court paperwork,
but that's not something the sheriffs were involved in.
They've got a High Court writ and they'll execute it to the letter.
Adam reminds them that not paying up isn't in their interests.
If it's not paid, you'll end up with another further £494 plus VAT.
Are you refusing to pay it?
They are, and that's not all...
-He's going to call the police.
-Right, OK, well...
The shop's refusal to pay means the sheriffs' attention
turns to their assets.
It's going to take a lot of instant noodles,
but Tracy reluctantly starts listing goods for removal.
-These rice ovens...
Yeah, may have value.
And that comes with a cost.
The enforcement has now moved to stage two,
which means the extra £600 Adam warned about
has been added to the debt.
This has now been taken to stage two. You've incurred a further cost.
You've refused to pay it and we've started to list goods.
Faced with escalating costs
and the very real prospect of losing their stock,
the shopkeepers now agree to pay, but not the extra fees.
Tracy's not impressed.
The shop didn't offer anything until she was forced to escalate,
and she's not going to back down now.
I'm running out of patience now.
We're going round and round and round.
This is the stage we've got to. We're not backpedalling now.
The figure you need to pay is that.
We can stop there and you can pay the 2-7, or we can continue
and it'll go up again, because I will start lifting.
It's not Mickey Mouse this, you know.
And with that, Dong Dong Oriental Supermarket's arguments are over.
They pay the debt and their extra costs on a card.
He was going to pay it at one point. His wife's come along,
spoken to him, the next thing, they're not paying it,
they're calling the police, questioning our authority,
whether we should be there and we're not who we are,
and it's gone to stage two, and then he's tried to backpedal.
It's been a tough afternoon,
but the sheriffs have done what they came to do.
The shop's supplier will now get the money they're owed.
Dong Dong Oriental Supermarket told us...
One of the biggest challenges consumers face when they take on big
companies is navigating endless recorded phone messages,
and finding the right person to talk to.
It can be a frustrating process.
When the sheriffs turn up to collect a debt in person,
they've got powers that consumers don't have,
so they can get results where we can't.
It's midday in the capital.
High Court enforcement agents Andy Joryeff and Adie Long
are on their way to the head office
of one of the country's largest insurance companies.
We're there after AXA insurance company in central London.
We're there to collect a debt of just over £1,300.
Obviously a large company.
We don't know what we're going to be confronted with,
but it being in the centre of London,
I should imagine it's one of these big, huge modern places.
Sometimes the sheriffs do have to go round the houses
like the rest of us.
A few problems that we'll face
whilst enforcing against big companies
is trying to locate that one person that's authorised to make payments
on behalf of the company.
Another problem that we'll find, as well, is security.
They will try and stop us.
It's their job, but we have right of entry to commercial premises.
We'll go anywhere in the building that we please
whilst we search for assets.
Wherever they go, if a debtor tries to obstruct them,
the sheriffs have a trump card.
We can call the police. They will be breaking the law
by trying to prevent us from carrying out our duty.
We'll search the building for assets no matter what today.
Andy and Adie's writ is for an unpaid motor insurance claim owed
to this man - 35-year-old Ben Anderson.
Ben had been taking two-year-old son Jack to visit his grandparents.
It's always an exciting thing for him,
and we were looking forward to a nice weekend with the family
who always spoil him absolute rotten, like grandparents do.
They were stopped in traffic when a car travelling at 40mph slammed
into the back of them, shunting them into the car in front.
When the car hit, it was just a massive crash.
The whole impact squashed the car, and the backseat got pushed up
against the back of my seat.
The car sustained heavy damage.
Jack was in a child seat in the back, and the impact left it
squashed up against the seat in front of him.
I was obviously in shock,
but my first priority was to make sure
that Jack was OK.
He was crying, shaking and screaming.
Nothing else in that moment mattered.
When you see your child in such distress,
everything else kind of goes out the window.
Jack was terrified, but had avoided being seriously hurt.
Luckily, he slept with his legs tucked up because, if he hadn't,
that would've been crushed against the back of my seat.
For him to come away without any injuries,
it was a miracle.
It wasn't until later that Ben realised
HE had been hurt in the crush.
I sustained whiplash.
I had extreme pain in my left shoulder.
It would just hurt to do basic things like picking my son up,
so that impacted me a lot
for a long period afterwards the accident, as well.
The driver who hit him admitted responsibility.
After a medical examination, their insurance company, AXA,
agreed to pay compensation for Ben's injuries and the written-off
vehicle, as well as the child seat and a pushchair
that were ruined in the crash.
But despite repeatedly chasing them, the money never arrived.
This just rumbled on for months and months.
I'd be ringing my solicitor,
sort of, every week, like, "Have you heard anything?
"Have we received any payment?" And every time, they were saying,
"No, we haven't. We've been chasing them.
"They're not getting back to us."
Every time, AXA would say they'd been sending out the cheque
and it had been going to the wrong address.
The cheque was being sent back, and then it was going to the bottom of
the queue of all their claims to make.
and then they were sending it out to the wrong address again.
Ben replaced the child seat and pushchair out of his own pocket,
but he still urgently needed a car for work.
He couldn't wait for AXA to get round to paying up
and had to borrow the money.
My dad's not a rich man either.
He's had to take that money out of his savings.
I really need to get this resolved so I can pay him back.
AXA eventually paid part of the claim,
but with the rest still outstanding,
Ben took them to court. When they didn't offer a defence,
the judge ordered that they finally pay up,
but still they haven't done so.
Ben's now had the judgment upgraded to the High Court
and got a writ for the money.
For them to agree to pay me this money and then for it to go on
month after month without getting anywhere...
I just need this weight lifted off my shoulder.
I'm really hoping that the sheriffs
can get this money for me.
Back in London, that's exactly what Andy and Adie are planning to do.
They have the power to enter a debtor's premises in the execution
of a writ, even if those premises are gleaming glass towers
belonging to multinationals.
The company's a very big company.
We know that they're good for the money.
They will have the assets available to us for removal if necessary.
But before they do that, they need to find the right place.
Even for enforcement agents carrying High Court writs,
the big city can be a confusing place.
-Where is it? Is it down there?
-It's up there on the left.
Wherever it is, it's a long way from home.
Being from a little Cornish town,
it's something else when you actually get down into London
and you look at it from the ground up.
Just the size of it.
Adie's usual patch is the Welsh valleys.
I don't think I could live in the city.
The thing is, you've got all this traffic. I mean...
Crazy. Absolutely crazy.
Give me strength today
-to get through...
..driving through London. I know how frustrating it can get!
Keep your hat on, man. You'll go grey before your time.
Oh, you already are.
-We had to bring the barnet into it!
They eventually manage to navigate
the city's labyrinthine one-way systems,
and find the address on the writ.
AXA. There we are.
They head into demand the payment to Ben's insurance claim.
Entering the lobby, Andy spots a man at the electronic barriers
who looks like security.
All right, sir? My name's Mr Joryeff, I'm an enforcement agent,
here to execute a High Court writ.
-Hang on, sir. I will call the control room.
Excuse me, sir. Excuse me, sir. Excuse me, sir.
-Excuse me! Can you stay there please, sir?
-Can you stay there, please?
-I'll stay here. Like I said...
-..High Court enforcement.
-Let me call the control room, sir.
Yeah, not a problem. Give them a call.
That's OK, I'm the same.
Hello, receiving? Excuse me...
We've just gained entry into the building.
The security guard on the ground floor opened up the gates in order
to come out to speak with ourselves.
As he came out, the gates were still open,
so I've walked on through.
Sheriffs have the court-given power to bypass front desks.
There's nothing the security man can do to remove them now.
He gets on his walkie-talkie and, moments later,
a woman appears to speak to them.
We're here to enforce a High Court writ of control.
-Sorry, who are you here to see?
OK. And has somebody been called?
We're just getting that sorted out now, I believe.
Right. And who in AXA insurance are you here to see?
My name's Mr Joryeff, OK?
There's my identification, OK?
I'm here today in order to execute
a High Court writ of control against AXA Insurance UK PLC
for an outstanding debt.
So I need to go and talk to our legal team, which I'll go and do.
-If you wait here, I'll go and do that now.
The sheriffs are used to companies of this size taking a while
to identify claimants and finding the right person to deal with them,
so they're happy to wait for now.
There is to be no filming.
Our cameraman isn't welcome to wait with them, however,
and we retreat to the road.
Inside, security don't really want the sheriffs hovering by the lift,
but can't persuade them to take a seat out of view.
We will just wait inside at the barriers, OK?
So they wait.
I'm not going to make us wait around all day.
The sheriffs are entitled to carry out a diligent search
at a debtor's premises and start listing their assets.
But before Andy decides to press the point and go upstairs,
someone comes down in the lift to talk to him.
My name's Mr Joryeff from the Sheriffs Office.
OK, do you want to come up?
They're taken upstairs, and with Andy going through the paperwork
with an AXA lawyer, Adie comes outside to update us.
At the moment, it's being looked into,
and it looks as if we will get payment.
Obviously, it's such a large company, they've got to look
into the solicitors and the reasoning behind
the debt hasn't been paid.
As soon as that comes back, I'm sure we'll be paid and settled.
Adie reckons Andy's decision to bypass security
helped speed up the process.
Most places, they don't understand the actual power that we have got
in going into buildings.
We have got the power and we can go in and remove.
With Andy in control upstairs,
Adie decides to leave him to it and stay with the van.
Parking is extremely difficult and expensive in this part of London,
so with a parking warden patrolling,
Adie decides his best bet is to keep moving.
I'll just have to drive around the block.
He heads off, expecting Andy to be following him downstairs
with payment in a minute or two.
But, nearly an hour later,
he's still circling and Andy is still upstairs,
trying to get Ben Anderson the money he's owed.
Eventually, Andy reappears.
He's had to do it without Adie, but he's got the payment in full.
The accounts department have put through the payment.
I've checked with our accounts now. Full payment has been received.
Good timing, fantastic. We'll get in the van.
All right, Adie? How any laps have you done?
-I lost count after five.
Righty-o, let's go.
Andy and Adie head out of London as fast as possible.
14 days later,
the sheriffs were able to transfer to Ben
the insurance pay-out he was entitled to.
I would like to say a massive thank you to the sheriffs.
At last, some good news after this whole ordeal.
As one small person against a big company,
and it....and it's just been
amazing that they've gone out there
on my behalf and got what I was owed.
High Court enforcement agents Tommy Coyle and John Farley
are in Surrey, looking for one of the country's biggest holiday firms.
Off to Gatwick today, to an industrial site, going to see
Thomson Airways in relation to an outstanding claim.
The outstanding balance is £2,600.
Relatively small for a large company.
Today, they are heading to the head office of TUI,
the parent group of Thomson Airways.
The debt relates to unpaid compensation owed to passengers
who were delayed on a flight.
The claimant took the matter to court, and when Thomson Airways
didn't contest the case, a judgment was ruled in the claimant's favour.
Any type of delay over three hours, I believe it is, you can
make a claim for compensation and then obviously transfer it up
to ourselves to enforce it.
The rules state that passengers must be offered free meals after a delay
of two hours, cash compensation after three, and free accommodation
if they're kept overnight.
It's been this way since 2009, but not everyone gets what they're owed,
and collecting debts like this is regular work for the sheriffs.
Me and John have both done lots of different airlines.
They just don't seem to be paying them, whether it gets lost
with the paperwork, half the time they don't know about it
until we turn up, they say.
The sheriffs may be familiar faces
at the head offices of some airlines,
but today John's hoping he won't get recognised.
I've got a holiday with Thomson. I'm going on a cruise with them.
That'll be lovely. Just the job.
-Hopefully they don't realise it's me and cancel my cruise.
As they approach the address, it doesn't look good.
-It's here, isn't it? Is that all locked up?
-Oh, you're kidding!
-They've gone away.
Where do you think they've gone?
The building looks completely abandoned,
but Tommy thinks he's seen someone in the lobby.
Maybe there's security.
-You all right?
-Hi, there, I'm looking for Thomson.
Is this TUI Travel House?
It was, but it isn't any more.
TUI and Thomson have flown the nest.
They've gone to Luton now?
The security guard says that, although the head office
is no longer here, the company has another address nearby
and that's where he's been redirecting visitors.
Jetset House? That's around here, yeah?
-Right, thanks for your time.
Any mail for Thomson Airways is also being forwarded to Jetset House,
so Tommy thinks his and John's presence there
shouldn't come as a surprise.
We have to send a notice of enforcement out,
giving them seven days. If it's been redirected,
they would have got that notice of enforcement
and we can look to enforce this writ.
The sheriffs leave for the new address.
They know it's not the head office,
but they're confident that if the payments department isn't there,
whoever is will be able to reach the right person.
There we go. TUI Group.
They park and head in to ask for the money.
Hello, how are you doing? Looking for Thomson Airways,
in relation to a High Court writ that has been issued.
-So, maybe legal department, something like that?
Reception makes a call upstairs.
This is more of a satellite office,
but should still be able to get our results.
..and moments later, a man turns up to speak to them.
Hello. Here looking for Thomson Airways,
to collect an outstanding sum of money of £2,638.
Almost immediately, he starts to question John's paperwork.
Thomson Airways is not a company name.
Thomson Airways Limited is the company name.
And are they based here as well? Are they part of the TUI group?
Thomson Airways Limited is a subsidiary of TUI AG.
The original paperwork had a mistake on it,
and now the writ reads "Thomson Airways"
instead of "Thomson Airways Limited." Even so, the sheriffs are
still expecting the company to know about the case and to pay.
It's probably going to be relating to a delay or something like that.
-So, I mean...
-Is there anyone that can get on the phone
and deal with this? Yeah, no problem. No problem.
They're going to be aware of this gentleman.
we'll be suggesting it needs to be paid today.
When people pursue a debt through the courts,
one of the most common mistakes is to get the name of the debtor wrong.
In the case of companies,
the claim must be brought against the registered name,
as listed by Companies House.
In this case, Tommy and John's client may have booked a holiday
with the business trading as Thomson Airways,
but should have taken Thomson Airways Limited to court.
We have a nonentity on the writ.
Moral of the story -
be sure who you're taking to court. Reference the name exactly.
Get it right.
Technically, TUI could refuse to pay because of the mistake on the writ,
but the sheriffs want them to do the right thing for their passengers.
John calls his office to get some more details,
including flight numbers and passenger names
and TUI find the case on their system.
Give them all the details and...
Yeah. He's got onto the legal department of TUI Group.
They know about this case, which they've admitted now.
They're getting the right gentleman on the phone to us.
We've gathered some more information for him -
reference of flight number etc,
which makes the process a lot quicker,
so they can obviously find out exactly what case,
because there's probably a few of these ongoing.
So, at this stage,
we're just waiting for this gentleman to call us back.
Hopefully, they just want to get it paid.
Eventually, TUI agree the claimant is owed the money
and make the payment by bank transfer.
After a little bit of arguing and disputing what department owes it
and who should be dealing with it, got it resolved and paid.
They know about the case. That's why they've got it paid today,
so it was a good result for the claimant -
the claimants, in this case -
and a good result for ourselves.
It took them more than two hours,
but the sheriffs finally got the money that was owed.
TUI Group told us they...
They said they...
If you've won a County Court judgment and haven't been paid,
for £66, you can get the case transferred up to the High Court,
which will issue a writ for enforcement by the sheriffs.
Hello? I'm an enforcement agent enforcing a High Court writ.
I'm here just to execute the court order.
They've got more powers than County Court bailiffs.
We're going to force entry into the shop
in about the next 10-15 minutes.
I have the right under the writ to investigate.
If you obstruct myself or my colleague, it is a criminal offence.
And there's no limit to the size of the debts they can pursue.
£14 million. It's the largest job I've ever done.
You can pay it directly into our account from Spain.
If they're successful,
they will recover your money and costs from the debtor...
Thanks. Thank you.
..as well as their own fees that are set by the government.
It was that amount there until half past five.
I don't stand here for three hours for nothing.
If the sheriffs can't get your money,
they'll ask you to pay a fee of £75, plus VAT.
The sheriffs don't always need to see the debtor in person
or to enter their premises in order to collect a payment.
Sometimes, their presence and a frank telephone conversation
is all it takes and today is one of those days.
High Court enforcement agents Mike Perkins and Billy Evans
are heading out to West London.
Today we're in sunny Hounslow.
We're off to see a Pembridge Solicitors Limited.
We're after just shy of £3,000.
The money is owed to a laundry firm.
Mike's expecting the solicitors to be aware of what a High Court writ
means and doesn't think they'll put up much of a fight.
Billy's the more diplomatic side of the team,
so I'm going to let Billy play the good cop for a while,
see if we can go that way.
If not, then I'll just have to up the ante a little bit.
They arrive at a large multi-occupancy office building
and head inside.
They're looking for the director of Pembridge Solicitors, Mr Pem.
Excuse me, we're looking for Pembridge Solicitors. Thank you.
His office is on the first floor.
But when they get there...
..there's no-one in.
Billy's got a mobile number for Mr Pem on file, so he gives him a call.
Hello, is that Mr Pem? Sir, I'm a High Court enforcement agent.
Are you about, to come and have a chat with us?
We're here today to enforce a High Court writ.
The amount is £2,990.25.
Mr Pem seems to know all about it and promptly agrees to pay.
Perfect. Thank you very much. Bye-bye.
He's going to do it now.
I wish they were all this easy.
From a phone call, just like that.
It looks like this is going to be an easy job,
and just a matter of waiting for the payment to go through.
But when Mr Pem calls back,
he hasn't paid, and he's angry that the sheriffs are outside his office.
Right, the payment, unfortunately, hasn't been made.
So that's why we're here.
It's too late to argue about it.
With the sheriffs at his doorstep, Mr Pem needs to pay up.
But Billy's struggling to get the message across.
If you'd made the payment, we wouldn't have attended.
We attend in person to collect that payment in full.
You're going round in circles, Billy.
Again, obviously the payment wasn't made during the notice
of enforcement period, which is why we attended.
The diplomatic approach isn't getting him very far.
Just needs to make the payment, or we're going to gain entry.
Mike can't contain himself any longer.
-Want me to speak?
-Give me one second,
I'm just going to put you across to my colleague for a second.
Hello, this is Mr Perkins speaking. Is that Mr Pem?
OK, I'm going to... Sir, sir.
I'm going to put it straight down on the line, OK?
I'm not going to wrap it up in cotton wool, OK?
The payment needs to be made in the next 30 minutes via bank transfer.
If the payment is not made within the next 30 minutes, OK,
I'm going to be calling a locksmith, OK,
and we're going to be gaining entry, OK,
where you'll incur even more charges.
You need to make the payment on stage one
to stop any other further costs going on.
Mike knows from experience that issuing an ultimatum
is an effective tool.
I'm going to be putting on a timer. 30 minutes to make payment in full.
OK? No, no, you've just said exactly the same to my colleague.
OK? You have got 30 minutes to make payment in full.
Thank you very much for your time. We'll speak to you in 30 minutes.
There we go. That's the Mike way.
One of the reasons Mike and Billy work so well as a team
is that they have different but complementary approaches.
When one doesn't work, the other can take over.
Just going round in circles,
so that's why I gave the phone to Mike - good cop, bad cop.
And Mike obviously upped the ante a bit more.
I've just told him he's got 30 minutes to make payment in full
and if we don't, we'll just get a locksmith out to gain entry,
or I'll go and speak to the ladies downstairs
and see if we can get a key off of them.
But before Mike goes key hunting, Mr Pem rings back
with the news they were waiting for.
Apparently, he's done it.
28 minutes and 35 seconds.
Payment in full!
A quick call to the office confirms the payment has gone through.
That's the one, thank you very much.
-Payment in full, Mike.
Thanks to Billy and Mike,
the laundry company will now get the money it's owed.