What happens if a debtor makes no contact with the Office of HM Sheriff?
If after 7 days the debtor has made no contact with the Enforcement Officers the following actions will automatically occur:
Arrest of monies in bank accounts - the Enforcement Officer will contact all high street banks in the island to ascertain whether there are any funds held in the name of the debtor. Depending on the circumstances, if there are monies located in the banks then an arrest of those monies is made.
Monies arrested in pursuance of a Petty Debt will be paid over by the bank to HM Sheriff after 15 days.
To recover monies arrested in pursuance of a Royal Court debt there is a separate procedure that needs to be followed in order to have these monies paid over to the creditor.
Distribution of funds
If the debt is a petty debt and there are sufficient funds then the debt will be paid in full. If there is more than one petty debt judgment creditor and there are insufficient funds to pay everyone the full amount owed then HM Sheriff will pay a dividend on a pro rata basis to the Plaintiffs.
If the debt is one above the petty debt threshold (£10,000) ie a Royal Court judgment, a separate procedure will be followed in order to obtain these funds.
Arrest of personal belongings -
As well as checking for funds in bank accounts within the Guernsey jurisdiction, the Enforcement Officer will visit the defendant's home and aim to conduct an enforcement interview . If full payment is not possible then the enforcement officer will ascertain how much the debtor can pay in instalments. If the amount offered by instalments is still not considered to be reasonable by the enforcement officer and there are assets of some value that could be arrested to satisfy the debt more quickly then the enforcement officer will seek to identify and arrest assets. The enforcement officer will however always consider carefully whether the arrested assets will secure reasonable funds after HM Sheriff costs have been recovered before making an arrest of this nature.
Petty Debt judgment - If an arrest of personal belongings has been made in consequence of a Petty Debts Court judgment the defendant will be advised that unless the debt is settled within 15 days that the goods may be sold by the Sheriff without further reference to the Court and the net proceeds used to settle any outstanding judgments HM Sheriff may have in hand at that time against the defendant.
Royal Court judgment - If the arrest has been made in consequence of a Royal Court judgment the defendant should be advised that the Plaintiff will be informed of the arrest of the assets and that the Advocate of the Plaintiff will need to summon the defendant to see the court confirm the arrest and grant permission to sell the arrested items.
What happens if the debtor claims that the assets to be arrested belong to someone else?
Where a debtor claims that certain arrested items are the property of someone else the debtor will be advised that any third party claiming ownership of arrested items should submit their claim to HM Sheriff in writing together with any lawful documentation they may have proving their lawful ownership.
On receipt of such a claim the matter will be referred to the arresting creditor or the arresting creditor's advocate for consideration. If the Sheriff or the arresting creditor is not satisfied with the documentation produced and the third party wishes to pursue the claim it will be for the Court to decide.
Where the goods have been arrested in consequence of a petty debts judgment any objection to the sale of goods has to be decided by a judge and in the case of goods arrested in consequence of a Royal Court judgment any third party claim can be dealt with by the Royal Court when the matter comes before the Court for confirmation of arrest and permission to sell.
Are arrested goods always removed from the debtor prior to them being sold?
It may be necessary to secure an arrest of assets but leave them in situ for the use of the defendant whilst an offer is being considered by the Plaintiff. In some circumstances, particularly where the debt is for a large amount and there are potentially goods belonging to the defendant to the value of the debt, an offer to be paid in instalments over a long period of time might be acceptable to the Plaintiff and the arresting creditor may be content to leave the arrested goods in situ whilst instalment payments are being made.
Arrest of Wages
If a debtor is employed and the voluntary offer of payment by instalments is considered by the enforcement officer to be unacceptable then consideration will be given to making a Wage Arrest Order subject to certain conditions.
These conditions are generally that the wage arrest must not exceed one half in the aggregate and the amount of wages under arrest including other wage arrest orders must not exceed £100 per week in the aggregate.
If a Wage Arrest Order is made then this is put in place with the debtor's employer to make the necessary deductions from the debtor's pay which is then forwarded directly to the Office of HM Sheriff and then be sent to the judgment creditor.
A fee of £25.00 will charged to put in place a Wage Arrest Order.
What happens if a debtor with a wage arrest leaves employment and starts a new job?
Should the debtor leave employment and start employment elsewhere then the Wage Arrest Order will be put in place with the new employer. No further fee will be charged to do this.
Can HM Sheriff arrest all items of the debtor?
HM Sheriff will not arrest livestock and tools of the trade. HM Sheriff must also leave the debtor basic items of household use.