Should I Use High Court Enforcement or Pre-Court Debt Collection?

24th June 2020

For those unfamiliar with the process of collecting unpaid debts, it can be confusing to know the difference between pre-court debt collection and High Court Enforcement.

In the most basic terms, High Court Enforcement is suitable in cases where there is a judgment, such as a CCJ against the debtor. If you haven’t obtained a judgment, you can use pre-court debt collection services to recoup debts instead.

There are similarities – in both cases, the debt must have been accrued or acknowledged from the last six years, and both are services provided by DCBL. However, there are differences in the approaches, processes and legal powers of each service.

High Court Enforcement Agent clamping a Bentley

When Should I Consider Pre-Court Debt Collection?

If you are owed £1,000 or more by an individual or business, for example for unpaid invoices, loan repayments or rental arrears, you don’t need a formal judgment against your debtor to instruct pre-court debt collection agents. As long as you have proof of the debt, action can begin within days.

The process is very straightforward. You’ll need to provide some basic information about how the debt was incurred, why your debtor hasn’t paid and some details about them.

On instruction we conduct a full financial profile check, including asset and address verification to ensure we have the most accurate data prior to starting the recovery process and to confirm whether we can help.

Our letters are taken seriously because debtors are often familiar with our participation in the hit Channel 5 TV show “Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away”.

However, unlike many debt collection agencies, if needed we will make in-person visits to debtors – Experience tells us face-to-face contact is the most effective method of achieving results. Debtor visits are included in our initial quote, so you’ll have no nasty surprises.

When Should I Consider High Court Enforcement?

Although our debt collection agents are tenacious and have a high success rate, High Court Enforcement Agents (HCEAs – formerly known as Sheriffs or Bailiffs) benefit from strong legal powers granted by the courts to collect the debt amount agreed by a judgment.

As you may have seen from our participation on Channel 5’s “Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away”, HCEAs can make peaceful entry into the debtor’s property and are authorised to seize goods to be sold at auction if payment is not forthcoming.

Quite often, the possibility of cars and belongings being catalogued and even taken away is enough to convince a debtor to take the situation seriously and discuss their options to settle the outstanding amount.

To instruct a High Court Enforcement Officer, you will need to complete our online instruction form and pay the £66 court fee for us to complete the transfer up process and obtain a writ of control. The £66 fee is added to your debtor’s liability (along with any enforcement costs). The HCEO fees are then recovered from the debtor upon successful enforcement. However, in the unlikely event our agents are unsuccessful the only other cost to yourself would be the compliance fee.

Should I Obtain a Judgment, Or Try Pre-Court Debt Collection?

Each debt collection case is unique. There is no “one size fits all” service, which is why at DCBL we consult with clients before taking on each case.

If you don’t have a judgment against your debtor, it may be worth exploring pre-court debt collection first, as this is the quickest action you can take and often resolves the situation without the need for court action. We know from experience that speed can make the difference in debt collection, as you avoid the risk of the debtor disappearing or going into liquidation, which would put them out of your reach for repayment.

However, you may prefer to go through court to get your money back. This is a service provided by DCBL’s sister company, DCB Legal who can act on your behalf to issue a claim against a debtor and obtain a County Court Judgment (CCJ), managing the whole process on your behalf from start to finish.

We recommend you call us on 0203 298 0201 or fill in our online contact form so we can advise you on which service will best suit your particular circumstances.