Shergroup Welcomes Government "Major Milestone" on Debt

Shergroup welcomes government major milestone on debtThe Government's hardening approach to debt recovery and its new "get tough" approach to people who do not pay compensation awarded by Employment Tribunals has been welcomed as a "major milestone" by the Chief Executive of Shergroup, the UK's leading High Court Enforcement Agency.

In a written ministerial statement from Justice Minister Jack Straw, plans are set out to make certain the High Court Enforcement Officers' Association can develop a service whereby successful applicants will be able to instruct a High Court Enforcement Officer to enforce their award or settlement as soon as the respondent fails to pay the sum due.

The costs of enforcement will be recoverable from the respondent, with limited cost liability for the creditor.

The announcement comes after the Chief Executive Officer of Shergroup, Claire Sandbrook, qualified solicitor, held top-level talks with Citizens Advice officials who wanted to highlight a gap in enforcement provision when people had won their Employment Tribunal hearing.

Mrs. Sandbrook, who is also Chair of the UK's High Court Enforcement Officers' Association, says: "We fully endorse the Government's new-found determination to ensure that individuals who are entitled to their Employment Tribunal awards or ACAS settlements are not denied access to justice by a small minority of unscrupulous individuals or companies who refuse to respect the Tribunal's judgment and pay out.

"These changes mark a major milestone for High Court Enforcement Officers, in recognising that as a national agency we can help the traditional creditor as well as other types of litigant who engage in the judicial process, and come out of that process with a judgment that needs to be paid.

"It seemed to us highly unfair that employees who had been successful in winning compensation against their former employer should be denied the very essence of justice in not securing payment.

"Much is written in these difficult times about vulnerable people in financial straits, and so I applaud the initiative of the CAB to recognise that people who have won a decision from the court are just as vulnerable if the enforcement system lets them down and they can't secure payment. Along with my HCEO colleagues, we are looking forward to working with Ministry officials to demonstrate that these types of cases can have successful outcomes and that people with Awards can find justice in the court system. To us it represents the first positive signal for some time that the Government wants to get tough on making people aware that consequences will follow if the order of the court is ignored".

Shergroup's High Court enforcement brand "Sherforce" has already seen a rise in the number of Tribunal Awards being sent in for enforcement. Claire Sandbrook says, "The process is not as straightforward as we would like at the moment, but we offer a free service to convert a Tribunal Award into a High Court Writ of Fieri Facias (Fi Fa), which will save legal professionals and litigants in person from the headache of engaging in the court system. Our teams deal with all the County Courts across England and Wales, and we intend to support court staff as more Awards are transferred for enforcement. Once we have the Writ, we begin our process of enforcement, which will mean levying and, if needs be, removing goods from the former employer to enforce payment". To find out more about how Sherforce works see www.sherforce.net

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