At Philip Elliott Associates we work closely with a company called Andrew Wilson & Co, High Court Enforcement, who are part of our debt recovery team.
For the agents of Andrew Wilson & Co, the debt recovery business is all about staying calm, being professional and focusing on the job at hand, says Sarah Roscoe, the company’s managing director.
Protection from risk
“We understand the pressures that firms like Philip Elliott Associates are under to recover debts on behalf of their clients quickly, while ensuring this is done in a manner that upholds the integrity of both parties and protects them from risk,” she says.
“It’s really about building up a relationship with the person who owes the money and gaining their confidence so you can talk to them calmly. We find that debtors are much more likely to cooperate as a result.”
Andrew Wilson & Co has two licensed High Court enforcement officers – there are only around 50 in the country – who are authorised by the Lord Chancellor to enforce High Court writs and recover money. They include the company’s co-founder and Chairman, Andrew Wilson, who is also the Chairman of the High Court Enforcement Officers Association (HCEOA).
County Court Judgments
High Court enforcement officers can delegate their powers to enforcement agents – bailiffs – of whom the company has 22 working in England and Wales. All of them are employed, rather than subcontracted and having their own fully employed team means they are in complete control of the enforcement process, says Sarah.
A key part of the agents’ work is helping to enforce County Court Judgments (CCJs) – a CCJ is an option for a creditor or their representative when a debt of more than £600 remains unpaid.
“Rather than waiting weeks, or sometimes months, for a county court bailiff to recover the debt, the CCJ can be transferred up to the High Court and passed to a High Court Enforcement Office like ours,” Sarah explains. “We have the power to attend the debtor’s property to recover the money or, in legal speak, ‘take control of their goods’ – that is, seize or remove goods and sell them in settlement of the debt.”
Enforcement agents in action
Robyn Baxter, our paralegal, has spent a day with one of Andrew Wilson & Co’s enforcement agents to see what the job is like in real life. Sarah recommends this as a way for her clients to gain a real insight into the enforcement role.
“They get to see at first-hand what an agent has to do, what their powers are and how difficult it can be to recover the money in some instances. They also learn the extent and limits of agents’ powers. For example, if we go to a business and the office is closed we have the power to force entry, which means arranging for a locksmith to come. We can’t do this at someone’s house, we have to be invited in.”
Helping businesses to recover money they are owed, whether you are dealing with the paperwork or actually knocking on doors, is difficult but important, says Sarah, so it’s vital that the people doing it are skilled at the work.
“We have invested considerable effort in ensuring that we employ people with the necessary technical expertise complemented by the appropriate temperament. We also provide regular training on conflict management so that our team are best placed to act with the utmost care and attention.
Investigative work pays off
“And similarly, people in other parts of the process need to be effective at what they do, as Philip and Robyn are. They have always done the due diligence necessary and put a lot of investigative work into a case before it comes to us, which means that the debt is more recoverable.
“This makes our agents’ job easier and means the client who is owed the money is much more likely to get a result.”