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As Max Bygraves used to say, I wanna tell you a story.

Back in the early 80s when I was working as a conveyancing clerk in Bristol and doing a mixture of work, personal injury, debt collecting and conveyancing, I was instructed by HFC Trust who were owed a few thousand pounds by a Mr & Mrs Brown for an unpaid loan.

I commenced debt recovery proceedings against the Browns and quickly obtained a County Court Judgement against them. The difficulty was enforcing it, as they had no money.

By an extreme stroke of luck I was acting for a young couple buying a house from, yes you have guessed it, the very same Mr & Mrs Brown! In view of the fact that contracts had been exchanged I knew exactly when Mr & Mrs Brown, and in particular their lawyers, would be in receipt of some money. As I was still attending college and my mind was young and razor sharp I also knew there was a way to try to obtain some of that money for my clients.

I approached my boss at the time and suggested that we should obtain a Garnishee Order from the court. Garnishment is a legal procedure by which a creditor can collect what a debtor owes by obtaining the debtor's property or money when it is in the hands of someone other than the debtor. My boss agreed and I obtained the order.

Now the fun began!

Completion day arrived and I was due to attend the seller's solicitor's office at 2.00 pm. The purchase price was, from memory, circa £30,000.00. I thought it might be prudent to take half of the purchase money in cash, just in case the seller's solicitors decided not to bank the normal bankers' draft.

Having collected the cash and the bankers' draft, I placed them both safely in my brand new, birthday present briefcase, which I strapped very securely to the back of my small motorbike and headed off in to Bristol City Centre. I left early so I could have lunch with a friend (also a trainee lawyer) on the way. We met in a pub and I opened my briefcase. If looks could kill, and before I could speak he quite obviously thought I was running off with some of my employer's money! Anyway, once I explained my cunning plan to him we had a good old chuckle. Suitably refreshed and with a small dose of Dutch courage, I headed off to the seller's solicitors office.

Upon my arrival I was put into a small room with a desk, two chairs and a small window. Not a coincidence as it turned out, but much like a detention room. After a few minutes the conveyancer came in with a bundle of deeds (those were the days!). I said, before we start will it be ok if I pay half the purchase money in cash, she said, without even questioning why, yes. She handed me the deeds and the signed transfer and I handed her the bankers draft and the cash. I immediately placed the documents in my new swish briefcase turning the combination lock to locked.

I then said, I now have to serve this Garnishee Order on you. She looked horrified and replied, I told you weeks ago, we are not acting for Mr & Mrs Brown in connection with this debt. That was true, she had. However, I explained that it wasn't being served on them as the Brown's lawyers but as someone simply holding money on their behalf. She said she wouldn't accept service. I said it was too late, the order had been served. She spluttered I am not having this, left the room and locked the door.

Having established that an escape attempt might result in serious injury or worse (three floors up from the ground), I sat there for about five minutes contemplating what my fate might be but determined not to back down. I double checked that my briefcase was locked!! Then in came the conveyancing partner in charge of the office. He once again reiterated that they weren't acting for the Browns in respect of the debt and that they could not accept service of the order. I repeated the fact that it didn't matter that they weren't acting for them and it was too late, service had been carried out. He said wait here, I am going to phone my litigation partner. Guess what He turned, walked out the door, and locked me in, again! I checked my briefcase, yes, it was still locked tight. I only wish my parents had bought me one with a pair of handcuffs attached to it.

After a few more minutes he came back. He conceded that I was entitled to do what I had done, accused me of sharp practice and let me go.

In the grand scheme of things 30 minutes or so of false imprisonment was no big deal, but the feeling of sun on my face and fresh air in my lungs was joyous. As I walked back to my motorbike I had a certain spring in my step, a job well done.

Needless to say, we recovered the money for our client. However, further dealings with that particular law firm were, strangely, always a bit strained.

Happy days.

*Rob Hailstone is Founder of the Bold Legal Group

rh@boldgroup.co.uk www.boldgroup.co.uk


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    Possibly John. Just trying to lighten the mood for once. In addition, the point of the story is that in these days of over regulation, it is highly unlikely that anything as different/creative as this would be allowed.

    • 13 October 2014 19:55 PM
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    Shouldn't this be the type of stuff you put on your linked in profile

    • 13 October 2014 19:40 PM
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