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Lifting of Enforcement Restrictions at Residential Properties

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COVID-19 and the lockdown brought about some tricky times for the enforcement of judgments. Whilst we have been able to instruct our High Court Enforcement Agents to attend commercial premises, there has been a blanket ban on attending residential properties.

On 23 August 2020, those enforcement restrictions at residential properties are set to be relaxed.

Whilst enforcement restrictions are due to be relaxed, you will no doubt we aware that a few areas in the country are experiencing local lockdown. In such circumstances, enforcement will be suspended, both commercial and residential, until those lockdowns are lifted.

When we instruct our enforcement agent, they obtain a writ of control which is live for 12 months, however, whilst our agent’s efforts have been limited due to the ongoing pandemic, this has raised concerns about the longevity of the writs. New regulations have been put in place which provide that if the writ was due to expire in 30 days or less from 26 March 2020 to 23 August 2020, it will automatically be extended by twelve months. Therefore, if you have already instructed us to obtain a writ of control, there is nothing for you to do as our enforcement agent will automatically amend their system to reflect this where applicable.

We recently caught up with Adele Whitehurst and Michael Whitaker of Court Enforcement Services Limited, who have commented as follows:

“We are looking forward to returning to some form of normality. All of our agents have now completed the CIVEA accredited safe returning to work training program and all have been provided with PPE. In preparation for the restrictions being lifted, we sent all debtors a reconnection letter to identify any individuals that have been affected by the pandemic. The letter was sent at least 30 days prior to the 23d August 2020, as we wanted to ensure that they have sufficient time to contact us. In addition to this, throughout the lockdown period, we have completed comprehensive soft contact methods including calling, messaging, lettering, and e-mailing to engage with the judgment debtors.

It is likely there will be some inevitable challenges ahead but we feel that as a company, we have managed to adapt our processes to ensure the safety of all our stakeholders whilst also continuing to maximise engagement with judgment debtors to identify any hardship or vulnerability. We are confident that with our expertise, flexibility, and continuous innovation, this will continue.”

Whilst our agent’s efforts have continued whilst the restrictions have been in place, there have certainly been some positive results which we are sure will increase given the relaxation of enforcement to residential property. We will continue to work with our agent and update our clients of any further restrictions which may apply as appropriate in the future.