Case Study: Customer service comes out on top!

The Instruction

Accepting an instruction to collect a debt when the odds are totally against you is a risky business. Its very time consuming, it requires specific knowledge, good customer service on a delicate situation and very careful attention to detail. Its even more difficult when your client and the debtor are both based outside the UK, as finding the right legal path is challenging.

We accepted a customer who had tried many different paths before us. We knew from the start it was near impossible to collect this one. However, we agreed to give it a go and met with the client to get some background information. It was a challenge to say the least!

Messy divorce, infidelity, implied money laundering, you name it we heard it. Lawyers in France dealt with the divorce settlement. Our task was to collect a debt for maintenance. First the plan was to find a way of getting the debtor, working in Dubai, to pay up using the UK courts and not use the French or Dubai legal systems.

Credit searches and social digging reveal all sorts of information, and on this case, it really did. We found the debtors UK address, bingo! Unfortunately for him it was also his parents address.

The Process

A Notice Before Proceedings letter sent to the address began the formal process. Letters are sent 1st class recorded and normal 1st class. Checking the Post office tracker system revealed that a person of the same surname as the debtor had signed for the letter.

Sending a letter non-recorded with a certificate of posting provides the evidence required for the court. A signed for recorded letter sent proves even better!

New Protocols

Submission for court action wasn’t possible for thirty days. This was due to the new protocols which came into force in October 2017. The new protocols allow a debtor extra time to enter Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

We received no communication during that 30 day period. More importantly, the debtor failed to file a defence, part admission, admission or counterclaim to the court.

The Bailiffs

With a judgment in hand, a High Court Enforcement company obtained a writ costing our client 66.

Bailiffs then also wrote to the debtor…

Not long after this Franklin James received our NBP letters back “returned to sender” with a letter enclosed saying “our son does not live here.” After careful discussion we left it to the bailiff team to do what the High Court instructed them to do, which was to “serve the writ.”

Receiving no reply from the debtor, 7 to 10 days later the bailiffs visited the address.

The parents invited the bailiffs into their house and proceeded to say that their son did not live there. With the bailiffs having produced the paperwork showing the son to be a UK resident on the electoral roll at that address, they asked the parents to produce evidence to the contrary.

During a 2 hour standoff the parents were also asked to produce receipts for all the goods in the house to show proof that they owned them and not their son.

The parents phoned the son as they couldn’t produce the required evidence.
The son phoned our client, (his wife), from Dubai telling her to back off. He bullied her on the phone saying that he would not now settle the divorce and that she would not receive a penny etc.

Our client became scared and called the parents’ house to ask the bailiff to stop. She said that she “had changed her mind about applying the writ.” However, the bailiff would not back down as the instruction had come from the High Court.

Customer Service & Support

We were not aware of what was happening, but at 7am, yes 7am, our client called us panicking and asked if we would speak to the bailiffs and call them off.

If we stopped the bailiffs we advised our client that she would have to pay the bailiff’s fees.

From all of the meetings that we had with her, we knew our client, we knew that “calling them off” was the last thing she wanted to do. So we stood by her and encouraged her to proceed, as scared as she was.

Throughout this claim we had been speaking with the claimant’s father gathering information and keeping him informed.

He lived in the UK and was a go between for FJCM and his daughter. We called him at 7.15 a.m. to let him know what was unfolding. The father told us that he was there with his daughter, but he didn’t know she had been on the phone to the bailiffs trying to call them off. He wasn’t happy and said he will talk to her.

For an apprehensive 20 minutes we waited for the call back.

We were told that he asked his daughter to call back the parents’ house and speak to the bailiff. This she did and relayed to the bailiff that her estranged husband had “bullied” and “threatened” her into calling. The estranged husband had said that she had now jeopardised the divorce settlement and told her to call the bailiffs off, otherwise she would get nothing, amongst other threats. She then asked the bailiffs to continue with enforcing the writ.

Our Core Values

If I hadn’t answered the phone at 7am, the ending to this article would have been a different one. Because the client ultimately instructs the bailiff holding the writ from the court, the bailiff may have backed off. Fortunately, in this instance he stood his ground, we supported emotionally from our end, and it paid off.

I’m ecstatic to say that our client has her money, all of it, including the court fees that she and her children rightly deserve.

Customer service is paramount to us, its at our very core. This is just one customer service case study where sheer determination, customer support and having the courage to take a risk, shone through.