We celebratedLRC’s 18th Birthday on 1st July, not in the manner that we were hoping for given the current climate but we really look forward to our staff returning to the office at some point and celebrating properly! We would like to say a big thank you to our staff and clients for their continued support and also extend a warm welcome to new clients. Read on for further updates regarding changes to legislation for HCEA and Winding up Petitions due to Covid-19.
High Court Enforcement Agents (HCEA) – Restrictions lifted from 24th August 2020
As you may be aware legislation was laid on Friday 19th June by the government making statutory amendments to the Taking Control of Goods and Certification of Enforcement agents (Amendments) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 . This came into effect on 24th June 2020..
The amendments are as follows:
- Amendment to Regulations 10 and 23 of the TCG2013 will prescribe that the emergency that applies to the restriction on the taking control of goods by enforcement agents will end on 23rd August (in line with the stay on possession proceedings).
- An amendment to Regulation 9 of TCG 2013 will extend the duration of the validity of notices of enforcement for taking control of goods that are due to expire before 23rd August (thereby automatically extending writs and warrants of control); and
- An amendment to Regulation 7 of the Certificate of Enforcement Agents (CEA) Regulations 2014 will allow for the extension of an enforcement agent certificates that are due to expire before 23rd August.
The main point to note from the latest amendment is the extension of the emergency period which restricts writ of control enforcement at residential addresses until 24th August.
NB.Due to the spike in COVID cases within the Leicester area, all enforcement for commercial matters will not be visited in the restricted postcodes whilst the area remains in lockdown.
A key part of our HCEA’s recommencement strategy is maximising engagement with debtors prior to the conclusion of the emergency period.
Although data enhancement is an effective tool to show the medium or long term impact on a person’s circumstances in a normal climate, these are not normal times and due to the nature of this uncertainty data enhancement behaviour and demographic traces will not show the current impactful changes that are happening in a person’s life on a daily basis. For example, if a debtor was recently made redundant or they have been caring for their children and unable to work due to shielding a relative.
Throughout this pandemic they have continuously been engaging with debtors through different mediums. Their team have been assessing individuals’ circumstances and where required have worked with creditors to provide short term restructuring of payment arrangements and payment holidays.
Now that the government has advised that enforcement is due to recommence from 24th August, they will spend the weeks prior to this ensuring that debtors who have been affected by the pandemic are identified. They will be sending a letter to all residential debtors at least 30 days prior to the conclusion of the emergency period which will ensure that they have sufficient time to contact them if they are experiencing difficulties. The letter will encourage debtors to contact a member of their highly trained welfare team who will be able to discuss their circumstances and signpost them to the help available. A conversation with a member of the HCEA team will gather vital intelligence and will enable them to work with the debtor to create a plan to resolve the matter.
Clearly, it is important that any potentially vulnerable person or situation is identified as soon as possible. The HCEA welfare team is highly trained both internally and externally with organisations such as The Samaritans, to spot vulnerability. The team also works closely to spot vulnerability.
The team also works closely with other debt advisory organisations including StepChange, Citizens Advice Bureau, National Debt Line, Money Advice Service and Advice UK.
Update on Winding up petitions
The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 effectively put a hold on winding up petitions being issued within the relevant period.
- No winding-up petitions are to be presented on or after 27 April 2020 if they rely upon statutory demands served between 1 March 2020 and 30 September 2020 – paragraph 1 of Schedule 10.
- No winding-up petitions are to be presented between 27 April 2020 and 30 September 2020 unless the creditor has reasonable grounds for believing that: (i) coronavirus has not had a financial effect on the company; or (ii) that the company would have become unable to pay its debts even if coronavirus had not had a financial effect on the company (Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Schedule 10).
Effectively therefore the earliest date we can now start winding up action/stat demands is 30 September 2020 unless further extensions are granted.
As the restrictions are being lifted, we are encouraging our clients to continue sending cases as normal. We are already seeing an increase and we anticipate that once everything reverts to ‘business as usual’, there will be a further uplift of instructions across the industry which could cause a considerable backlog at the courts. This way we can help to avoid potential lengthy delays.
Significantly, we have also been obtaining many payments in full and payment arrangements over the last few months due to our continued outbound activity of calling, messaging, emailing and lettering efforts.
If you or your teams are still currently working, we would greatly appreciate it if you get time to go through your outstanding instructions on workflow. If the next course of action is to proceed with a Letter before Claim or Claim Form, as mentioned in our previous newsletter you can still instruct us to do this. Youcan still instruct us to instruct the High Court Enforcement Agents, although they can not currently make visits (until August 24th) they are running an office based collection service of letters, calls and emails, so it maybe wise to get ahead of the queue and possible court delays.
We will endeavour to keep you updated with any significant changes. Please do not hesitate to contact client services with any concerns or questions.
When emailing the office, please use the team email addresses rather than (or as well as) individual ones, just to ensure that your email gets dealt with swiftly if the member of staff you are emailing is not available.