HMCTS Historic Debt Team

The HMCTS Historic Debt Team  was set up by the government in 2016 as a pilot scheme to recover outstanding court fines that have remained unpaid  for a period of up to 10 years.  In most cases, the reason for non payment is because letters from the court had been going to a previous address.

Since its launch in 2016, HMCTS has recovered a significant amount of money. As a consequence; the Historic Debt Team has expanded their tracing activities to recover outstanding court fines over 10 years old.

The court fine is over 6 years old…is it statute barred?

No it isn’t. Magistrate Court fines are criminal matters and are a punishment for breaking the law. It is precisely because they are a punishment that they are not subject to the Limitations Act. A court fine  cannot be included in either a bankruptcy, an IVA or a Debt Relief Order (DRO) for the same reason.

I don’t know anything about this court fine.

We receive a significant number of enquiries from the public regarding a court fine from the HMCTS Historic Debt Team. In many cases,  subsequent enquiries reveal that the correct procedure would be to apply to the Magistrates Court for an appointment to make a Section 14 Statutory Declaration. This procedure is outlined in detail on this page.  An application for a Section 14 Statutory Declaration must be made within 21 days of you becoming aware of the court fine.

Should I pay or make a Section 14 Statutory Declaration?

Given that the majority of court fines from the HMCTS Historic Debt Team may go back many years, many people have little or no supporting documentation available. Consequently, they may worry at the prospect of attending court  for a Section 14 Statutory Declaration.  Instead, many people decide to pay the amount requested in order to conclude the matter.  This is perfectly understandable.

Will the HMCTS Historic Debt Team accept a payment arrangement?

Yes, a payment arrangement can be set up with the Historic Debt Team  but this will only on condition that  a warrant has not been passed to an enforcement agency. If the debt has been assigned to an enforcement company, the HMCTS Historic Debt Team are unable to accept payments and any payments that are made, will automatically be forwarded by HMCTS to the  relevant enforcement company. Any bailiff fees that are due will be deducted from the payment.

Will HMCTS Historic Debt Team pass the fine to bailiffs to enforce?

Before issuing a warrant, the Historic Debt Team must issue a Further Steps Notice.  If the debt remains unpaid at this stage, a warrant may be issued and passed to either Marston Holdings, Collectica Ltd or Excel Enforcement Ltd. If you receive correspondence from either of these companies with the reference HMCTS HD, or even just HD, this will refer to a debt from the Historic Debt Team.

Contacting the HMCTS Historic Debt Team

If you have received a letter from the HMCTS Historic Debt Team, their contact details should be on the letter. Alternatively, you can make enquiries with the National Enforcement Service on 0300 1239252

Commentary from Bailiff Advice Online

If you have received a letter from either the HMCTS Historic Debt Team or from Marston Group, Excel or Collectica Ltd with the reference HMCTS HD in relation to a court fine that you had not known about,  you can email a question to us using our online Enquiry Form. Alternatively, can contact our free helpline. Details are on our Contact page.

Lastly, our Simplified Guide to the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 can be read here.