A new company has announced its launch as a free digital marketplace for the management, oversight and enforcement of judgment debt. The company focuses on ensuring that creditors are paid what they’re owed and that debtors are treated fairly, whilst raising standards across the whole High Court Enforcement industry. Te launch marks the first time that creditors can reclaim judgment debts through a nationwide digital debt market integrator, similar to the solution the UK Government uses to collect the £22bn owed to the public sector.
The new company named Just has been set up by industry leader Jamie Waller (formerly of JBW), who has long made it his mission to improve practice across the enforcement industry.
Just says that the High Court Enforcement industry has had its longstanding reputation eroded by accusations of bad practice towards society’s most vulnerable, both in the national media and by leading debt charities. Many major UK creditors now choose to write off judgment debts rather than risk their brand’s reputation. It’s an industry that is vital for the safe progress of the economy, but it is ripe for modernisation.
Just is the UK’s first digital marketplace for the enforcement of judgment debts. It provides a layer of management and oversight to a network of High Court Enforcement Agencies that operate under ISO approved performance standards across all of England and Wales. It has developed a digital infrastructure that uses behavioural insights and data science to drive the resolution strategy, and a new set of rigorous processes that goes beyond the scope of current regulation to protect creditors’ brands, the safety of vulnerable debtors, and the reputation of the industry as a whole.
The company has identified ‘Five Giant Challenges’ which are set out in the Just Manifesto. Just believes that, if not addressed, these challenges will undermine the safe functioning of the industry, so it is setting out to meet them head-on. The ‘Five Giant Challenges’ are:
- Application of VAT on fees: Due to a change in regulation, there is industry wide uncertainty on the application of VAT on enforcement fees. People and businesses in the UK may have been wrongly charged VAT for some years
- Renting of Authority to Act: Some Authorised High Court Enforcement Officer’s (AHCEO’s) are simply charging enforcement agents a fee for using their authority to act under the authority of the High Court and have almost no oversight of the actions taken in their name, putting the most vulnerable people and the entire industry at higher risk
- Proof of delivery on Notices of Enforcement: The first step of the enforcement process requires a Notice of Enforcement to be sent to the debtor, giving them the opportunity to pay. The sending of this notice is challenged time and time again, with many debtors claiming to never receive any notice prior to the enforcement agent’s visit
- Using data science and behavioural insights to protect the vulnerable: Attempting to collect debts at the wrong time with the wrong approach increases the cost to debtors and reduces collections for creditors
- Safeguarding and privacy issues with proposed video law: The proposed mandatory filming of enforcement visits may put even more people at risk.
Jamie Waller, Chairman at Just, said “Just believes that everyone has the right to be paid what they are owed. Today the industry isn’t working effectively. With better training, rigorously upheld ISO standards and smart technology, enforcing unpaid judgment debts can be carried out with fairness and compassion, protecting both the welfare of the debtor and the reputation of the creditor. It’s Just to do it right.
Dominic Briggs, Managing Director at Just, said “When an officer arrives to collect an unpaid debt they are representing not just our company but our client’s company, as well as engaging with people who may be having a difficult time. It is not enough for them to simply be compliant with the law. We need to go over and above, to equip each officer with the training and information they need to engage with debtors in the right way, at the right time, and with the emotional intelligence required to achieve the right outcome.”
The Just platform is paid for by panel member companies, who acknowledge that their membership can be revoked if they fall short of the agreed ISO standards. There is no cost to creditors who place their debts on the platform, and there are clear benefits.
- Due diligence and procurement of panel members [High Court Enforcement Agencies]
- Debt portfolio review, data analytics, and debt resolution strategy advice
- Administration of the transfer up process
- Behavioural insight nudge techniques
- Sending of the Notice of Enforcement by Royal Mail’s Recorded Post
- A single digital infrastructure across all stakeholders that can be accessed by panel members, clients, creditors, and staff
- The industry’s first double enforcement process, running cases through two enforcement agencies prior to case return where sufficient return data is not provided, or alternative information gathered
- The application of fees in line with the strict requirements of the Taking Control of Goods (fees) Regulations 2014
- A 50-day turnaround