Enjoying a champagne lifestyle with a gold Rolex, driving a Porsche 911 Turbo, owning half a garage and buying and selling coaches wasn’t enough for David Brason. He wanted to see his name in lights. New opportunities lit the way to what he thought was his future, but then the plug got pulled.
He wanted to see his name in lights. New opportunities lit the way to what he thought was his future, but then the plug got pulled.
Some 30 years later David, 65, managed to get his name shown to the nation, having set up a company to prove that bailiffs don’t need to employ bullies to be able to recover money owed to creditors. He founded High Court Solutions in 2013 and was quickly approached to take part in
He founded High Court Solutions in 2013 and was quickly approached to take part in fly-on-the-wall documentary, ‘Can’t pay? We’ll take it away!’ for Channel 5. In a short space of time he proved that not all bailiffs have to be heavy handed and that every situation is different.
Being the owner of a company that collects debts owed is a fair stretch from David’s childhood dream of becoming a motor mechanic. Whilst running a business refurbishing and selling coaches, he got into a bit of financial trouble.
“I had a champagne lifestyle, but you always have illusions of grandeur, you always want to see your name in lights. An opportunity presented itself when I was talking to the importer of new Belgium Coaches. In order to sell new ones, you’ve got to take part exchanges.
“I suggested a deal to him where we would take all of his part exchanges, refurbish them and we would have the opportunity to sell them. One big thing with coaches is that they are expensive. If you want to buy stock it’s expensive. I head hunted the staff that I wanted, got into a purpose made unit on an industrial estate and literally six weeks after we moved in, they had the receivers appointed, which meant that our life blood was cut off.”
As a consequence, David saw himself dealing with creditors for the first time, taking a proactive approach and brokering deals to repay them over a short period of time.
“All I thought I had brought to the table was common sense. Instead of the creditors attacking me, I wrote to them and said, ‘This is the situation’.
He became very adept at dealing with creditors and it wasn’t long before people were asking for his help. David decided to start his own consultancy business, running 13 offices and becoming qualified in company law, insolvency law and bailiff law.
After 30 years of frustrating bailiffs across the country, he was challenged by a director of a large bailiff company to ‘put his money where his mouth was’. He felt strongly that there was no need for the ‘bully boy’ tactics that were often implied in the job, and set out to prove his point. High Court Collections was born, shortly changing to High Court Solutions when David and his business partner went their separate ways.
Proving a point
Regulated by the Ministry of Justice, the firm is authorised to execute High Court Writs where a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) is ‘commanded’ by a High Court Judge to execute the writ on behalf of a creditor. A High Court Enforcement Agent (HCEA) will then go to the debtor to obtain either the money owed or, if they are unable to pay, goods to the value of the money owed.
“What most people are unaware of is that any judgment over £600 and under six years old can be transferred to the High Court for enforcement purposes at a cost of only £60. The debtor picks up our costs and we also get back the £60 transfer fee, assuming we are successful, which we normally are. The process is really easy, they simply send the judgment paperwork to us along with the £60 and we facilitate the transfer.”
When he was approached by the documentary crew to take part in ‘Can’t pay? We’ll take it away’ David saw it as the perfect opportunity to show the nation what they are all about. Dealing with all sorts of difficult situations where companies, tenants or individuals, for one reason or another have not repaid their debts, as well as showing that everyone from small builders and plumbers to private landlords can use their services much easier than they expect.
The TV show proved to be an instant hit with between 2.3 and 2.5 million viewers. David had successfully put his point across to the nation that bailiffs didn’t have to be seen using ‘bully-boy’ tactics and they quickly became the UK’s favourite bailiffs. However, after feeling like they were losing sight of the fact that they were high court enforcement officers, he pulled out of the show after series two.
After just two years of trading David has proven the success of the company. In the first year of trading, the firm made a small loss, however 2015 saw a £470,000 turnover with a prediction of £650,000 this year.
An olive branch
His High Court Enforcement Agents have seen many different situations and David knows that it is better to be a friend than an enemy. Although some situations prove more difficult than others — when his agents suffer the wrath of angry debtors or deal with others who are not as innocent as they may appear.
“I think the money in the Docklands was probably one of the most entertaining. I had been out with the guys for two days. I came back on the Tuesday night and on the Wednesday morning, one of my guys called me and said, ‘We have just been in to reposes a flat in the Docklands for unpaid rent. We found a packing case and inside that there is $8.5 million.’
“Quick as a flash I said to him, ‘Have you got the film crew with you?’ He said ‘yes’. I said: ‘What would of happened if you hadn’t got the film crew with you?’ He said, ‘We would probably have found $6.5 million,'” David laughed.
However some debtors that David and his team have to deal have no control over their situation. These are the cases where he is glad that he hand picked the right staff to be part of his team.
“There are a lot of things that you don’t see behind the scenes. They went down to evict a woman and discovered she had some form of mental illness she was being cared for. When they got into the flat they found papers that related to the case and also found out she was a hoarder.
“The guys went, of their own free will and accord at a weekend and emptied the place, stored all the items and when they found these papers, they spoke to a solicitor who took the case on a pro-bono situation and managed to overturn everything that had happened, because we should never have been there in the first place.
“That’s not our role or responsibility. Rather like a computer runs programmes, if you read a High Court Writ, it says ‘You are commanded by a High Court Judge to attend these premises and seize goods to the value…’ or you are commanded to go and you evict the person.
“I think that you have to leave the emotion there. There are a lot of sad situations.”
But knowing the difference between an unfortunate case and someone who just thinks they can get away with it is the key aspect. But no matter what the situation, it is always a friendly smile rather than a threatening attitude that wins the day.
“We have to differentiate between vulnerable people. What we have found is that an arm round the shoulder rather than a foot in the door produces much better results. It’s sitting there and saying, ‘We’ve got a problem. The last thing that we want to do is take your TV.’
“These people always have the big screen. One of the things that we really notice is that they’ve all got either the latest iPhone or the Galaxy phone and they’ve got the biggest TVs and they always have the full Sky package.
“You start to think that these guys have got their priorities wrong in life. But you sit down and work with them and you find that that’s more successful than coming heavy handed.”