Order for Sale following Proprietor’s Deportation to Jamaica
We acted for a local authority who had instructed us to recover sums in excess of £50,000 in respect of liability orders awarded for unpaid business rates. Initial research showed that the debtor had been imprisoned for possession and supply of large quantities of class A drugs, leading to his deportation. We had no reason to believe the debtor had returned to the UK.
Our Initial Instructions
We were initially instructed to write to the debtor to obtain payment, failing which attempt to serve the debtor with a statutory demand (as a precursor to bankruptcy proceedings). A letter before action was sent to the debtor’s last known address in the UK and a week later a call was received from a male who claimed to be the debtor’s brother, who we will refer to as “Mr X”. Mr X stated he had received the letter, confirmed the debtor still resided in Jamaica and that he had been granted power of attorney for the debtor – although he would not produce a copy of this upon our request.
Enter Mr X
Throughout our contact with Mr X, he refused to be referred to as a “Mister” and when asked why, he claimed that Mr X was a “legal fiction”. It became clear at this point that Mr X operated as a freeman of the land. Freemen are individuals who claim they do not recognise statutory authority, often quoting archaic laws all the way back to Magna Carta.
A Change of Strategy
No payment proposals were received and as the debtor still resided in Jamaica (as evidenced by a Home Office report confirming the Deportation Order remained in force), we were unable to serve the debtor with a statutory demand.
Following our advice, we were instructed to apply to the County Court for the liability orders (originally obtained in the Magistrates’ Court) to be transferred to the County Court for further enforcement. After this, a further application was filed for enforcement by way of charging order against the debtor’s property. At this point we only had the debtor’s last known address in the UK to use as the address for service.
Enforcing the Security
Some months passed and the final charging order was received. In absence of repayment proposals from either the debtor or Mr X, we were instructed to file an application for an Order for Sale of the debtor’s property.
New information come to light
Two months after filing the claim, a letter was received from the debtor which included his address in Jamaica. The letter also gave Mr X authority to discuss the matter with us. Thereafter, correspondence and court documents were sent to both the debtor’s Jamaican address and Mr X’s address in the UK.
Mr X’s last stand
Prior to the hearing of our claim, Mr X emailed the Court claiming that the debtor had not been served with the hearing bundle contrary to the certificate of service filed by us on behalf of the Claimant.
A GK Director stepping in
Following an Order being made for the debtor to be served at his Jamaican address, the file was transferred to our defended litigation team to address any complexities efficiently. A witness statement was then filed and served on the issue of service.
The statement was made by a Director of Greenhalgh Kerr setting out a chronology of service, thereby evidencing to the Court that the Defendant had been served at his Jamaican address ever since it was provided to GK and that we had taken all reasonable steps to bring the matter to the Defendant’s attention, thereby complying with Part 6 of the CPR.
Taking a belt and braces approach, an application was also filed requesting that service be dispensed with under CPR 6.16 in order to eliminate the risk of the Judge deeming service to be irregular.
The Final Hearing
At the hearing, upon reviewing the evidence placed before him and the Claimant’s application to dispense with service, the Judge was satisfied that service had been properly effected but that if he was wrong on that point, this was a case where service should be dispensed with under CPR 6.16. The Judge accordingly granted the Order for Sale of the Defendant’s property and costs were awarded.
Do you need some advice?
If you are struggling to deal with someone who is refusing to pay their business rates and/or council tax debts in the UK or abroad and would like us to assist or just offer some guidance/legal advice, please call us on 0333 200 5200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Our friendly and experienced team will be happy to assist you.