LCD plans special enforcers for debt collection

An LCD consultation paper suggests giving enforcers powers to find out about debtors' assets from third parties and pursue ways of enforcing court decisions.

Creditors must currently rely on a debtor's willingness to reveal their assets, with little redress available if they refuse to co-operate. Officials are seeking a way to obtain such information from banks, the DVLA, the DSS and the IRS, while still satisfying the data protection requirements.

LCD research shows only a third of creditors were paid in full in 1997, with another third receiving nothing. In 1998, of the 694,000 warrants issued by the courts instructing bailiffs to seize goods or obtain payment, only 242,000 produced payment of debts.

Lord Irvine says: "Taking someone to court is a daunting enough prospect in itself. But for too many people, getting a judgement [sic] in court is the easy part. Too often it is difficult for them even to find out whether the debtor has any assets, let alone to get paid what the court says they are entitled to have."

The paper is also seeking views – by 31 March – on how to improve other procedures such as issuing enforcement warrants and writs, oral examination of creditors and judgment summonses.

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