The High Court Enforcement Officers Association (HCEOA) has welcomed the Government announcement that visits to residential properties to enforce debts owed to UK companies can restart from 24th August.

High court enforcement agents will be re-starting visits at this time to residential properties in order to take control of goods.

The restrictions on visits have been for residential addresses, following the laying of the amendment in the Taking Control of Goods and Certification of Enforcement Agents (Amendment) (No.2) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020, which has been laid before parliament and came into force yesterday (24 June).

Andrew Wilson, Chairman of the HCEOA, said: We welcome this announcement as our members now have a date on which we can all work towards, which is good news. This is important for the UK economy as our members collect over £100 million every year of unpaid debts on behalf of UK companies, and this is money these companies need to continue trading.”

“We have a best practice post-lockdown plan which has been unanimously approved by our members and will ensure that we take a flexible and sympathetic approach to enforcement, whilst maintaining the safety of the public and enforcement agents.”

Government has stated that enforcement visits should be contactless where possible and adhere to the social distancing guidelines in force at the time. Agents should not enter residential property, unless there are exceptional circumstances and it is deemed safe for the agent and members of the public.”

The HCEOA has already agreed a post-lockdown plan, entitled “A Flexible and Sympathetic Approach to Enforcement”, which sets out the principles, working practices and behaviours that all High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEO’s) and representatives will follow from 24 August.

In line with the latest Government guidance, the plan details:

  • Additional training requirements for all enforcement agents prior to any home visits
  • The need to follow appropriate social distancing guidance where possible
  • The provision of protective equipment and hygiene supplies to ensure the visiting member of staff protect themselves, debtors and members of the public whilst at work

The plan will be under continued review in case of a change to government guidelines on the emergency period (e.g. a second spike, increased R rating, new lockdown).

Wilson added “We remind our members and clients that the ban on the vast majority of residential enforcement is still in place until 24 August. Once lifted, the post-lockdown plan aims to consider the case-by-case circumstances of judgment debtors and ensure they are treated fairly whilst allowing creditors to recover the money they are owed.”

The HCEOA’s post lockdown plan is based on current conditions, and the Association will update it in line with changes to UK Government and Public Health England and Wales guidelines.