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27 April 2021
This blog post is the part of a series profiling Chris Badger AHCEO, our legal and compliance director, who possesses extensive experience managing specialist and high profile cases on behalf of the Royal Courts of Justice. If you require the services of a High Court Enforcement Officer or would like to receive specialist advice for an upcoming case, please contact Just today on 020 3848 9060
In a previous post I’ve talked about high value high enforcement work relating to priceless photography and this particular matter is similar but with an unexpected twist in the tale.
In this specialised enforcement case, we were seeking to seize a Faberge Egg Clock in favour of a central London firm of commercial lawyers acting for a creditor who was owed substantial funds against a high net worth individual (HNWI)
This particular gentleman was a collector of specialist pieces of art and, at the point of instruction, we were advised by the creditors solicitors that the defendant owned a safety deposit box in central London.
Any case involving a safety deposit box is especially challenging for an enforcement agent.
This is because in this particular matter we needed to arrange forced entry into the safety deposit box, and there are a finite number of locksmiths that possess the skill and equipment to do this.
It was our belief that within the safety deposit box were a number of high value items including a Faberge Egg Clock, an extremely rare item that cannot be handled by anyone other than an artwork specialist, such is the immense value of the item.
In the event, we attended the Oxford Street address of the safety deposit box in central London and spoke to the owners of the company and their legal team, who accepted that the power of the High Court Writ gave authority to permit entry in this case.
As we gained entry to the deposit box, we identified a number of items of value, and we worked with a specialised fine art removal company to securely remove each item, including what appeared be a Faberge Egg Clock, and carefully secure it.
We advised our enforcement agents that they should not even to touch these items because when you're dealing with assets of such value even the smallest error can result in damage leaving the enforcement officer and even the Judgment creditor open to potential claims for any damage that could be caused.
In this case, each of the items were then transferred to a specialist Auctioneer in central London. Here they were inspected by a team of Auctioneers and it became apparent that the Faberge Egg Clock was not an original but an item could have been created created by a student of Faberge.
This was disappointing to discover, but nevertheless the item was still of considerable value, so we made arrangements to auction the items in order to recover the unpaid debt on behalf of our creditor.
Prior to the auction sale, we received a number of different claims to the items as well as other artwork pieces from the safety deposit box from third parties who all were expressing interest and claiming ownership of different items.
Each of these claims suggested various parts of the collection belonged to them which mean that we issued an interpleader application, now called a CPR part 85 application, where allowing the validity of the claims is adjudged by the Court.
This resulted in a series of hearings before Master Leslie at the Royal Courts of Justice who dismissed, with the exception of two, many of these third-party petitions.
Consequently, the Faberge Egg Clock and the remaining assets of value were subsequently sold at auction at the appropriate auction houses to ensure that fair value was obtained in the interests of all parties.
In the event, the purported Faberge Egg Clock did indeed reach quite a high value at auction, as our case had established its providence as the work of a student of Faberge, if not the artist himself.
This resulted in a significant sum of money. This enabled us to go a great deal of the way to resolving the case and paying off the Judgment debtor.
Want to hear more from Chris Badger?
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Chris Badger AHCEO is a regular speaker at industry events and can provide specialist advice on how to best enforce complex and high value writs of execution under the authority of the High Court of England and Wales.
If you require the services of a High Court Enforcement Officer for a specialist case, please contact Just today on 020 3848 9060