A new scheme has been introduced to offer claimants the power to recover their compensation when employers fail to pay up.

The fast-track scheme, which was put into place on 6 April 2010, allows claimants direct access to enforcement officers at the High Court so that, after paying a court fee of £50, a writ will be issued to seize assets from their employer to the value of the judgement that was awarded to them by the employment tribunal. The figure will then be added to the debt that the employer owes. These new measures, which apply to anyone in England and Wales providing that the compensation award is at least £600 (including fees, costs and interest payments), are hoped to reduce the 39% of people never paid the compensation that they have been awarded.

Before April this year, a successful claimant wanting to enforce an unpaid compensation had to register in the County Court before action could take place, since the employment tribunal didn’t have the ability to administer its judgements. Court-appointed bailiffs were then used, engaged by the County Court and so receiving payment regardless of whether or not they made a successful recovery of the compensation.

Now, High Court enforcement officers may be used, engaged by the judgement holder, and only being paid upon successful recovery of the compensation, thus having a higher success rate.

A database, operated on behalf of the Ministry of Justice, began registering details in April about the individuals and about the organisations who had failed to pay the tribunal awards. This database can be freely accessed by the public and credit reference agencies, and now holds information on over 570 individuals and companies.

The scheme is likely to greatly increase the chance of success for individuals who wish to enforce the payment of their compensation for two main reasons:

There is an increased risk for employers that High Court officers will pursue them for the judgement debt and cause embarrassment with more determination than County Court bailiffs.

Employers won’t wish to have information about them added to a public database that damages their reputation by indicating that individuals are dissatisfied with them.

An assessment of the scheme after 2 years has been suggested to determine its effectiveness.

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