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High Court judgment Delivers Clarity on Non-Entry Controlled Goods Agreements

January 8, 2021

Category: News

The High Court judgment on non-entry Controlled Goods Agreements, issued on 8th January, has provided clarity for the enforcement industry on seizing goods without a physical visit.

The regulations currently say that a visit needs to take place before goods can be taken into control but does not specify whether this has to be a physical visit. The judgment clarified this matter saying, "an enforcement agent may enter into a controlled goods agreement with a debtor whether or not the enforcement agent has physically entered the premises on which the goods are located."

This has been welcomed by enforcement network Just, and trade bodies Civil Enforcement Association and High Court Enforcement Officers Association, who have issued a joint statement on the judgment and also invited the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to review and, if appropriate, provide further guidance and/or amendments to the regulations.

Remote contact is not a new concept, with CIVEA and HCEOA members already using multi-channel engagement tools as part of the compliance stage without applying additional fees.

Russell Hamblin-Boone, Chief Executive of CIVEA, Andrew Wilson, Chairman of the HCEOA, and Nick Georgiades, Managing Director of Just, said: "This is good news for creditors, debtors, members of both associations and Just as it was important to bring much needed clarity in this area of enforcement. The judgment was the appropriate procedure to follow before any new and untested practices are introduced for the enforcement of court orders and warrants."

They added: "Whilst we recognise that members of the associations and Just will be well placed to conduct non-entry CGA's with appropriate caution, we would like to safeguard the process from others who may not be so diligent. The two associations and Just have offered to assist the MoJ in completing this work, should it be appropriate."

The MoJ might also provide guidance on the compliance stage of enforcement process for high court writs, so that it is not undermined by this decision responding specifically to the claim by some high court enforcement officers that they are unable to enter payment arrangements during the compliance stage, due to the wording of the command on the writ."

The trade associations and Just believe that clarity in this area would be useful for debtors and enforcement agents as the different stages of enforcement are closely linked to specific fee scales which set out the fees that enforcement agents may charge.

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