The Royal Courts of Justice have been asked by Just – the enforcement market integrator, to clarify the legal status of virtual enforcement as an alternative to physical debt collection.
Virtual enforcement solutions allow qualified enforcement staff to work remotely when seeking to collect on unpaid debts. Developed as an alternative to physical enforcement, Just has estimated that the effective use of virtual solutions could reduce the costs of enforcement by up to £700 and eliminate the need for physical visits on certain cases.
Nick Georgiades, Just’s Managing Director said:
“Virtual enforcement is a game changer. The adoption of remote enforcement technology brings substantial cost savings to both the creditor and debtor and a better user experience for all, especially in times of national or local lockdown where social distancing restrictions inhibit effective debt collection.”
Just has worked with stakeholders including Citizens Advice and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Debt and Personal Finance at each stage of the process to ensure the industry has access to a professional and carefully thought out alternative to physical bailiff visits.
Commenting on the developments Yvonne Fovargue MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Debt and Personal Finance said:
“It is vital that we support people in debt, particularly at this difficult time. The new virtual enforcement tool is clearly a step in the right direction.”
In July 2020, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) confirmed that there was nothing in legislation to prohibit virtual enforcement visits and that there was nothing within the proposal that caused them sufficient concern to justify taking any steps to prevent Just from moving forward. The MoJ did raise a point that a Court might consider this differently if asked.
Just brought a case before the Court prior to its implementation and asked for the proposal to be considered and then notified all major stakeholders that a case would be heard. While a number of enforcement organisations have announced they are looking at their own virtual solutions, others have decided to challenge the case.
These organisations were represented by a QC Barrister yesterday and to ask the Court to prevent virtual enforcement visits without a physical attendance and the associated charges being applied. All other stakeholders that responded to the Court have not opposed the solution. The hearing was held at the Royal Courts of Justice, virtually.