Judges Demand

Top 10 Debtor Excuses…..

Published On: 7th March 2012

This week our High Court Enforcements are looking at when is the right time to instruct a High Court Enforcement Officer to recover the money awarded in a judgment, as well as our top ten list of debtors’ excuses for non-payment.

Top ten debtor excuses
by David Carter of The Sheriff’s Office on 07 March 2012

We’ve all heard that the cheque is in the post!

As High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs), we receive a huge variety of excuses for non-payment.

Here is our top ten list of common excuses
1.I didn’t get the paperwork
2.I’ve sent a cheque
3.It’s going back to court
4.I thought it had been paid
5.None of these things belong to me/the business
6.All of these assets have been sold to someone else (usually the day before)
7.The person you’re after has moved
8.That’s not me
9.My wife owns everything
10.I sold it this morning

And our answers
1.The debtor will have received reminders from the creditor, a letter before action, court papers and the judgment. Saying they know nothing about it is usually just an excuse, especially if our officer is enforcing at the address used on all the court paperwork!

2.The cheque so rarely is in the post! However, we do double check that no payment has been received, either by our office, the creditor or their solicitor

3.The debtor might be intending to go back to court to apply for a set aside or stay of execution, but unless they have already been awarded either of these, then enforcement will continue. An application is merely that, an application

4.We often find debtors, especially in companies, trying to shift the blame onto someone else – it “should have been”, “I thought it had been”. The vague and evasive language is usually a give-away!

5.This may be true, in which case the debtor has five days in which to prove ownership

6.This is often claimed, but the debtor has to provide legitimate paperwork to prove this to prevent the enforcement officer from continuing with execution

7.Sometimes the debtor genuinely has moved, in which case the enforcement officer will try to obtain the new address. But often it can be the debtor trying to avoid enforcement

8.We have had cases where the debtor himself claims this, but our officer has been provided with a photograph of the debtor. We even had one where the debtor had a work photo ID round his neck as he spoke to our officer!
9.The officer will need to be given proof of ownership before he releases the goods seized. It could still be seized if it is deemed “jointly owned”

10.If it has been sold, then the debtor needs to provide legitimate proof of the transfer of ownership. If the goods were already seized before he sold them, or the debtor has knowledge of the writ, then the debtor could have committed a criminal offence and may be arrested, imprisoned and fined

Have you come across any unusual excuses? If you have, let us know and we’ll update the list!