Our firm is one of the only Law Firms in Ontario able to provide civil enforcement services.
This is because our senior partner, G. Dewar Laing, is both a lawyer as well as a duly appointed Baifliff by the Province of Ontario. Mr. Laing has been a lawyer since 1985 and a Bailiff since 2003.
"Civil Enforcement Services" refers to rights that you have under civil (as opposed to criminal) law. For example, if you sue someone in the civil courts for, say, an unpaid debt, once you get a judgment, the collection of the amount found to be owing is called a "civil enforcement". But there are other types of civil enforcement that are granted by statute that, if applicable, save you from the delay and expense of going to court. These are remedies that are often called "self-help" remedies, because they allow the creditor to seize and sell the goods of the debtor in satisfaction of the debt.
Specifically, we combine our legal expertise with our substantial experience as an appointed and licensed Bailiff to implement the maximum recovery with a minimum of time and cost. This type of self-help civil enforcement remedy is provided to creditors under the Personal Property Security Act (the "PPSA"), the Repair and Storage Liens Act (the "RSLA"), and the Commercial Tenancies Act (the "CTA").
Usually, you will want a Bailiff to handle these types of self-help remedies for you because the rules and standard practices for such enforcements are complicated and numerous. This is precisely the type of enforcement that we specialize in.
However, there is a big difference between a regular bailiff's office and our offices. We are lawyers first and foremost. Our job and our duty is to protect the best interests of our clients. What you do and what you say is protected by solicitor/client privilege. We have an ongoing professional duty of care to our clients that transcends the immediate problem at hand.
We provide commercial collection services, and our settlement agreements, when we have to come to terms with debtors, all contain provisions that allow us status as secured creditors in future.
This is why, when we do collections for clients, we will often enter into a Settlement Agreement providing for monthly or weekly payments. The main benefit of such an agreement is that it will provide in its terms that it constitutes a General Security Agreement against the assets of the debtor and that you are authorized to register a Notice of Secuirty Interest under the Personal Property Security Act (the PPSA) in the event of a default in payment. This means that if the debtor defaults in making the agreed upon payments, we can seize and sell the debtor's assets without need of getting a judgment and without need to share the proceeds of such sale with any other creditors (other than the Canada Revenue Agency in some cases).
There are a number of pieces of legislation that create security interests to allow the recovery of debt without the need or expense of going to court. We specialize in the enforcement of these self-help remedies.
There are a few problems with judgments. First, it takes a long time to get one, often well more than a year. There is also the cost of hiring a lawyer and the experts to give testimony, not to mention the stress of a trial.
But one of the problems that is frequently overlooked is the problem of enforcement, of actually collecting on the judgment. In the case of judgments, only the Sheriff's Office is allowed to enforce the judgment. You have to file a Writ of Execution with the Sheriff's Office in order to collect. However, that Execution is only good for the County in which that Sheriff's Office is located. Ontario is lagging behind other provinces that have updated their systems for the collection of judgments. In Ontario, there is no province-wide registry of judgments. It is up to the judgment creditor to file Writs of Execution in whatever County they think the judgment debtor has land or assets. The sad reality is that you may have a judgment against someone in Essex County for $100K, but if the judgment debtor sells a cottage in the Muskokas for $250K, you won't get a dime of that money, not unless you knew to register the Execution in the Muskokas too.
Not only is getting a judgment a substantial investment of time and money, the simple fact is that the Sheriff's Office is not the most effective means of getting paid. First of all, the Sheriff's Office does not do investigations or proactive steps. It is up to you to find the debtor's assets and, once found, you have to pay the Sheriff's Office a deposit before they will act. If they do seize the debtor's assets, say, a bank account, they are required by law to hold that cash for thirty days and, at the end of the thirty days, to divide it proportionately amongst everyone that has a judgment against that same debtor. In other words, you could do all the work to find the asset, incur the cost of having the Sheriff seize it, and then lose most of the value if there are other judgments against the same person that are worth more than your's.