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13 October 2020
Today the Royal Courts of Justice will be asked by Just, the enforcement market integrator, if virtual enforcement visits can be implemented without the need for physical attendance of the debtor’s home.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Just developed a virtual enforcement solution in response to the changing realities of the debt enforcement landscape. Just strongly believes that the debt enforcement process needed to reflect the new realities facing society, as the COVID-19 pandemic has led to debtors becoming more financially vulnerable. The physical and mental health risks of a in-person visit also greatly heightened – to the extent that the Government banned physical visits from March until late August 2020.
The pioneering solution – the first of its kind – allows the enforcement stage one of the process to take place over a video call, allowing enforcement agents to secure goods against payment plans without having to attend a debtor’s property and charge additional fees. This solution could reduce the costs of enforcement by up to £700 and eliminate the need for physical visits on certain cases.
In July 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, being proactive, brought a case before the Court prior to its implementation. They asked the Court to consider the proposal 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 will be represented today by a QC Barrister and will 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 will be held today at the Royal Courts of Justice, virtually.
Jamie Waller, Founder and Chairman of Just, commented:
“Just created this solution because it was the right thing to do. It saves the debtor hundreds of pounds and returns more of the principal amount to the creditors.
“We are pleased the solution will be placed under scrutiny and hope the Court agrees that there is nothing in legislation to prevent virtual enforcement from taking place and requiring an agent to physically visit and add additional charges is unnecessary when the creditor and debtor consent to it being done online and for free.”