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Help with how to enforce a small claims judgment


angling_man
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Hi everyone,

 

I rarely use forums, so please be kind :oops:

 

I booked a stay in a Scottish Hotel some time ago via their trade stand at a flower show. When we arrived the accommodation was nothing like the photos on their website or on the stand. The room was damp, cold, dirty and had no soft furnishings to speak of. Bedding looked filthy and the electrical wiring rather suspect. On top of that, we were told on arrival that the water was unsafe for consumption so they'd be giving us bottled water.

 

They were fully booked, so the only option we had was to put up with it or go home (600 mile round trip) and pay £10 to change our booking. We asked for a refund and the manager was very rude.

 

Afterwards we wrote to the hotel a few times without joy. I therefore started a small claim online as the hotel company is registered in England & Wales. Judgement was made end of January in my favour, instructing the hotel to pay me £167.44.

 

They've ignored the court order, despite me writing to them again twice. I even phoned and was told they have no intention of paying. They don't even seem to care they now have a CCJ against the limited company.

 

So, what's the best way to take this further? I understand I can commence enforcement action, but only their registered address is in England. Can the court bailiffs go to the Scottish trading address?

 

Any advice is welcome...

 

J.

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Hi Angling man

 

Did you issue the claim in England ?

 

Did you issue it in their LTD name?

 

Is the Judgment Forthwith?

 

Why do you not want to execute it at their England Office...its all the same company ?

 

Regards

 

Andy

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Hi Andy,

 

Thanks for replying.

 

The claim was issued in England and in their company name. Their registered office is in England, but I suspect it'll have nothing of any value belonging to the company that bailiffs can take. I don't want to spend £100 on enforcement if I'm unlikely to get anything back.

 

I've since found out from Trading Standards that the hotel is now trading under a different company name, but owned by the same directors. The directors have multiple companies and the hotel seems to have transfered between 2 or 3 of them over the last few years. It's all looks very suspect. The company I have the judgement against is Portsonachan Hotel Limited

 

I'm afraid I don't know what you mean by the judgement being forthwith.

 

Regards,

J.

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Judgment forthwith ...payment with immediate effect.

 

" Their registered office is in England, but I suspect it'll have nothing of any value belonging to the company that bailiffs can take. I don't want to spend £100 on enforcement if I'm unlikely to get anything back."

 

They can ask for cash!

We could do with some help from you.

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Yes, I just checked and it says forthwith on the judgement.

 

Portsonachan Hotel Ltd have just filed their accounts for 2012 and reported £33,412 in assets (but over £1m in liabilities). What's my best route, debt collectors that enforce CCJ's or enforcement action through the courts. I don't need the money, I just want this hotel to understand they can't keep ripping people off so want the best chance of making them pay.

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There is some useful information about how to do this on the Scottish court website: http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/taking-action/frequently-asked-questions/general-faqs/serving-or-enforcing-a-court-order. Its not hugely difficult but there are a few hoops to jump through.

 

 

Its probably easiest to hand it over to Scottish bailiffs if you can. I wonder if they would deal with the procedure for you, at least the Scottish side.

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I'm not sure that would yield anything as the hotel now trades under a company called Holidays Direct Marketing (Southern) Limited, same directors though.

 

I think they may just say there's nothing belonging to Portsonachan Hotel Limited there, even though the hotel is called Portsonachan Hotel.

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That's certainly a possibility angling_man. Unfortunately it is very difficult to know either way who actually owns the hotel. I guess you might be able to check with the Land Registry (or equivalent in Scotland). If it turns out that the new entity owns the hotel and you can't identify any assets held by the original entity, you might have to bring a new claim against the new entity instead.

 

How did you pay? If through debit or credit card the easiest way would be to use chargeback. If not but you know who they bank with, then a third party debt order against their bank account is an option.

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Thanks for replying, that's quite helpful...

 

Land Registry is a possibility, I may try that avenue. Is it possible to start a new claim?

 

I paid Debit Card, so I'll find out if Chargeback is an option, although I'm not sure if there's a time limit on that.

 

I've considered a 3rd part debt order, but don't know their bank account details or how to find them out. Would I have to attend court in person?

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You'd generally need to know who their bank is to get the TPDO and would need to attend court.

 

I think the easiest option would be chargeback ... best to start the ball rolling with this on your bank. I hope it should be straightforward as you already have a CCJ.

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I checked the timescales on chargeback and I'm outside them. Had I known about chargeback before starting the small claim, I would've been fine.

I thought I'd only be able to make a claim for the money once. Is it possible to bring a new claim against the new entity? If so, how do I approach it? Do I repeat the claim as before, or do I claim the unpaid claim (if that makes sense)?

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Do you know for sure that the old entity does not have any assets? Do you know if they are still contracting in the name of the old entity? You need to do a little digging to try and work out what happened.

 

If you paid by debit card, can your bank help you identify which bank the payment was made to? If you can work out the bank, you can go for a TPDO over the account.

 

 

You could of course just claim against the new entity. You'd have to take the risk of them saying you contracted with another entity but they would need to substantiate that. The disadvantage of this approach is that you wouldn't recover court fees from your original claim.

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Do you know for sure that the old entity does not have any assets? Do you know if they are still contracting in the name of the old entity? You need to do a little digging to try and work out what happened.

 

If you paid by debit card, can your bank help you identify which bank the payment was made to? If you can work out the bank, you can go for a TPDO over the account.

 

 

You could of course just claim against the new entity. You'd have to take the risk of them saying you contracted with another entity but they would need to substantiate that. The disadvantage of this approach is that you wouldn't recover court fees from your original claim.

 

 

 

In relation to your last paragraph is the burden of proof not on the OP to prove he contracted with the new entity, not the other way around?

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In relation to your last paragraph is the burden of proof not on the OP to prove he contracted with the new entity, not the other way around?

Yes, burden of proof is on the op ... although if the new entity is operating the hotel and the op stayed at the hotel, I imagine it would be difficult for them to claim otherwise.

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Unlike court issue fees to commence a claim, the enforcement fees are fixed regardless of value (that is the position in England & Wales, and I anticipate it will be the same in Scotland).

 

Unfortunately, spending money on enforcement fees might see you left further out of pocket if there are no assets to enforce against - it sounds as if the trading company running the hotel is a different company. You might want to write to the debtor with a copy of the judgment, notifying that you will shortly be sending the bailiff round unless they pay within 7 days. Having a bailiff in their reception could be embarrassing to a hotel.

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