JUDGMENT ON EXTENT OF POWERS OF HIGH COURT ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS: THE ACCESSIBLE LANGUAGE SUMMARY

In Just Digital Marketplace Ltd (enforcement – controlled goods agreements – taking control of goods) [2021] EWHC 15 (QB) Master McCloud gave an important judgment about the extent of the powers of  a High Court Enforcement Officer.  However there is no need for me to set it out or summarise it because there is an Accessible Language Summary.  This is not part of the judgment but is an interesting development.

THE SUMMARY

Accessible language summary (not part of judgment).
This summary has a Flesch score of above 50 and was written to ensure accessibility of the judgment to readers with average reading ability.
MASTER McCloud:
This decision is about enforcing judgments where people have been ordered by a court to pay money such as if they owe money for bills for utilities or if they owe money to a shop or other business. If they cannot pay the full amount then a person called a High Court Enforcement Agent can visit them and can remove their belongings. Sometimes people can pay and want to pay but they need time and cannot pay all the money at the start. If everyone agrees then the person who owes the money can be allowed to keep their belongings as long as they pay regular amounts to reduce what they owe. If that is agreed then it is called a Controlled Goods Agreement. If the agreement is broken the belongings can be taken away and sold.
If an agent goes to someone’s home or business then a fee is added which increases the money owed by the person. Some people say that making the debt bigger by adding the fees of the Agent makes it less likely the person can pay the debt.
In this case two groups said that an agent must go to the home or business of the person who owes the money and go inside so that a Controlled Goods Agreement can be made.
The other group said that a Controlled Goods Agreement can be legal if it is done by video. They said the agent does not have to go to the home or business and go inside as long as they identify the belongings of the person who owes the money and they obey all the other rules about Controlled Goods Agreements. Then they said they will not charge any fee.
The Judge decided that the act of Parliament means that it is legal to have a Controlled Goods Agreement without physically going inside the home or business. The Act of Parliament allows rules to control how that happens if it wants and Parliament makes the rules. The judge decided that the rules which were made about Controlled Goods Agreements do not deal with some parts of what can happen after a Controlled Goods Agreement is agreed by video. The judge said that it was up to Parliament and the Government to consider if it wants to change the rules to give a procedure for a controlled goods agreement to be fully enforced. It is also up to Parliament and the Government to decide whether there should be any fees if there is a video agreement.”