Increase in Enforcement Fees Close Gap Between County Court and High Court

Shergroup Boss Calls for Real Leadership on Unpaid Debts"Fee increases introduced earlier this year into the County Court scale of fees have narrowed the differential between choosing either a County Court bailiff or a High Court Enforcement Officer", says Shergroup's Chief Executive, Claire Sandbrook.

Shergroup, a leading provider of enforcement services, has seen a steady rise in new instructions as people turn to Shergroup's High Court Enforcement service brands, Sherforce, Sherbond and Sherforce Plus for increased levels of service at almost the same price as the County Courts.

As Claire Sandbrook explains, "The price differential means that instead of court users accepting the no-frills service of the County Court bailiff service, for virtually the same level of investment they can take advantage of the services provided by transferring their orders and judgment to us for enforcement".

It costs just £50.00 to issue a High Court Writ of Fi Fa for any judgment debt over £600, and if the enforcement is successful, then the judgment creditor has that fee repaid along with interest at 8% per annum on the debt. The judgment debtor pays Sherforce's fees. Even if enforcement is unsuccessful, the only additional fee payable by the judgment creditor is a £60.00 abortive fee.

Claire says, "Clients often share their frustrations with us when we go to see them about the level of service in the County Court. They have to wait for reports and there is no online service to update them on how the enforcement of their warrant is moving along. This contrasts quite dramatically with our level of service, which sees clients having access to our free transfer-up service to convert the judgment into a Writ of Fi Fa, and an online service so that our reports are published to our SHERPA website to keep our clients fully updated on where they are with the enforcement of their Writ".

It is also clear that the enforcement of a Warrant of Possession is causing claimants to turn to Shergroup for help. With ever-increasing delays in the County Court arranging an eviction date and landlords losing out on rent in the intervening period, more and more landlords want to know about alternative ways to achieve possession quickly. Shergroup reports that some County Courts are taking on average 12 weeks to evict a non-paying tenant, leading to further financial loss for the landlord.

Shergroup's response to this problem is to encourage claimants to add some 'magic wording' to their claim form, in which they ask the court for permission to transfer any order for possession to the High Court. A successful application will include supporting evidence showing the hardship that the delay in enforcement will cause to the landlord.

As a result of publishing this information, the group's Sherbond brand is seeing an increase in instructions, with orders for possession including the 'magic wording' being sent to Sherbond for enforcement. Again, Claire Sandbrook says that Shergroup saw the problem for claimants and looked for a way through the CPR and current legislation to be able to help. Although on the face of it orders for possession cannot be transferred to the High Court, the court does have discretion under Section 42(2) of the County Courts Act 1984 to make an order allowing transfer if it can be convinced of the efficacy in doing so.

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