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The 'renting of authority' - what we can do about it

18 November 2019

There are only 46 Authorised High Court Enforcement Officers (AHCEOs) in England and Wales, which means it only takes a few to go against the spirit of the High Court Enforcement Officers Regulations 2004 to cause significant problems for the industry as a whole. One area of particular concern is that of the renting of their authority to act - and that’s something we aim to fix.

What does an AHCEO do?

AHCEOs can take and resell the possessions of a debtor on behalf of a creditor, evict tenants, and even have powers of arrest under certain circumstances. It’s a hefty set of powers, but these are the powers that are needed to get the job done.

What's the problem?

The problem is that there are only 46 AHCEOs, and some of them ‘rent their authority’ to third party enforcement agents for a tidy fee. In some cases, the agencies in question have had no form of due diligence performed and, on occasion, are bringing the entire industry into disrepute.

There are obvious reasons as to why this practice has arisen. The few AHCEOs that we have can’t all be personally knocking on doors and enforcing Writs. But there’s a difference between hiring someone to work under your authority and passing that authority on entirely - along with all the responsibility which should be attached to it.

The main reason AHCEOs have the ability to do this is their scarcity. It is almost impossible to become an ACHEO without a strong relationship to someone who is already authorised. Those that are already authorised would obviously see their economic power fade if (for example) another 46 people were granted authority. This together means that we don’t see many new AHCEOs become qualified. 

What can be done?

The solution is seemingly simple: make AHCEOs responsible and accountable for the administration and enforcement of the Writs to which they put their names. In practice, this may not be as easy as it sounds. However, we believe that we have the answer.

Just will operate under the jurisdiction of a single AHCEO, who will be responsible and accountable for every document, every byte of data, and every enforcement process which occurs under their remit. The Just AHCEO will be a director and significant shareholder of Just and will appoint panel member organisations to complete the field-based activity only, while keeping the data, behavioural, compliance process, telephone collections, and customer and client care in-house. Their team of experts will complete full due diligence on panel members and manage them to strict guidelines, contractual obligations, and performance indicators.

About the Author: Nick Georgiades

Nick has over 30 years' experience in the financial services industry. He has held senior positions at Alliance & Leicester, AA Insurance, Capital One, TDX Group, and Equifax International.

Nick is the Managing Director of Just.