The case of General Motors UK Ltd v The Manchester Ship Canal Company Ltd concerned a licence agreement which allowed General Motors to discharge surface water into the canal for a modest annual fee of £50.
Property Disputes: Professional In the Hot Seat
We caught up with David Carter, Chief Executive of the Sheriffs Office, to find out more about the life of a sheriff.
Describe your typical working day.
Personally, I’m no early bird and prefer to work late into the evening, including once home. So, on an average day I arrive at our offices for 9am and firstly trawl through the many newsletter emails I subscribe to looking for business opportunities, directing them to my appropriate staff to follow up. During the day decisions on a case by case basis will be made spontaneously as the very nature of enforcement means that no two cases are the same. I will also be working on business strategy and financials usually long after everyone else has left and this continues into the night once home, much to my wife’s annoyance.
What is the most creative excuse you have heard from a debtor?
I once had a case where the creditor had sued his own alter ego for £300,000. After going round and round in circles the Police and local mental healthcare unit eventually confirmed this. Upon our attendance he repeatedly said that he didn’t owe it and whilst we hear that all the time, on this occasion he was right, sort of. Tell us about the most bizarre assets you have seized. Over the years I have seized a lot of interesting goods. From Formula One cars, to Hot Air Balloons and the contents of a Victorian Pharmaceutical Museum. Other notable seizures include a collection of letters and manuscripts penned by names such as the Queen, Churchill, Bonaparte, Einstein, Edison, Renoir and the Marque De Sade! These recently fetched over £270,000 at auction.
The face of The Sheriffs Office website is a mean looking lion. How would you rate your roar and why?
Personally, I’m not much of a roarer per se. As a business though our roar is about as loud as it gets. Many often underestimate the powers conferred by a High Court writ and even the biggest companies have been humbled by the roar of a mere £60 writ.
Liam Neeson famously said "I have a particular set of skills... skills that make me a nightmare for people like you". What makes you a debtor’s nightmare?
I’m not sure I’m a debtor’s nightmare. What I do possess is a good understanding of where to take an enforcement action, knowing how best to ensure we recover as much for our client as is possible in the circumstances. As already mentioned, every case is different and will often require a different way of working it, whether that’s seeing through the some of what is said, a simple negotiation of payment or the removal and sale of their goods and assets.
What three words spring to mind when you think of the Cotswolds?
Walking, Hills and Cider. Not necessarily in that order much to my detriment recently.