Why should I use a High Court Enforcement Officer instead of a County Court Bailiff?
A County Court Bailiff [CCB] is a salaried Civil Servant who gets paid regardless of result, whereas a High Court Enforcement Officer [HCEO] only gets paid for successful enforcement. It is also cheaper to raise a Writ of Control than instruct a CCB to attend with a Warrant of Control. Furthermore, CCB’s cannot enforce Judgment Debt above £5000, however we cannot enforce a Judgment Debt below £600 [including Court Costs] whereas a CCB can.
What is a Controlled Goods Agreement?
If a Debtor is unable to pay in full, and is offering a realistic repayment proposal, the High Court Enforcement Officer may ‘seize’ allowable goods, such as a vehicle and enter into a Controlled Goods Agreement [CGA] with the Debtor. The Debtor signs the CGA and then has the benefit of using the goods until payment in full is made to us. Traditionally this is referred to as ‘Walking Possession’. If the Debtor fails to adhere to the terms of the CGA then goods are removed for sale at auction. The Debtor cannot dispose of the goods whilst they are bound by the CGA.
Can you force entry?
A High Court Enforcement Agent [HCEA] cannot force entry into residential premises, or combined business/residential premises without a Warrant from the Court authorising this action. The Courts would be unlikely to grant such action without exceptionally good grounds. However, the HCEA can force entry if he has previously gained peaceful admittance into the property and the Debtor has breached an agreement to pay.
Entry can be forced into Commercial premises; however, this would be undertaken by agreement with you and as a last resort.
What goods can you take?
We must adhere to the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 – Exempt Goods, and can only take goods belonging to the Debtor, for example a vehicle, assuming it is not on Hire Purchase. We cannot remove most basic household goods such as TVs, beds and other domestic items.
We will not remove goods that hold little or no sale value.
Unless the Debtor is a Limited entity, we must leave a Debtor with ‘tools of the trade’ to a value of £1350.00.
How much will it cost me to get a Writ of Control?
We charge £161.00 [comprising of the £71.00 Court fee (as at 30/09/2021) and £75.00 + VAT Compliance fee].
This fee is wholly refundable upon our success. In the event that we are unsuccessful we will issue you with an invoice marked ‘paid’ and retain £90.00.
How long does it take to obtain a Writ of Control?
We expect to receive the sealed documentation from the Court within 2 weeks of submission. However, although we are in regular contact with the Courts, please be aware that we are entirely at their mercy.
What Areas do you Cover?
We cover all of England and Wales. Scotland has its own legal system.
My Judgment is old can I still enforce this?
We can enforce a Judgment debt for 6 years from the date of issue. If the debt is older than 6 years, then it is ‘Statute Barred’ under the Limitation Act 1980, and you will be unable to recover the debt.
When will I receive the money collected?
In line with the Insolvency Act 1986 we are legally obliged to retain Debtor payments for a minimum 14 days, thereafter our payment dates are the 1st or the 15th of the month as appropriate.
How do you collect your fees?
The Debtor pays our regulatory fees. Sometimes a Debtor will attempt to evade our fees by contacting you to make payment direct. Should you negotiate payment with the Debtor then you could be liable for these fees. We therefore recommend that once we are instructed that you do not liaise with the Debtor, but simply direct them back to us.
The Debtor has put in for a Stay of Execution / Set Aside, what happens next?
If the Debtor has applied to the Court for a ‘Set Aside hearing’ then the Judge will consider the Debtor's reasons for the application and there will likely be a Court hearing at some point in the future. This action does not prevent us from enforcing the Writ, but as each case is individual, we would discuss the continuation of enforcement with you.
If the Debtor has a ‘Stay of Execution’ in place we cannot legally enforce the Writ and all action is placed ‘in limbo’ until after the Judge has made their decision. Again, each case is individual, and we would discuss the matter with you.
Can I deal with the Debtor while you are instructed?
Sometimes a Debtor will attempt to evade our fees by contacting you to make payment direct. Should you negotiate payment with the Debtor then you could be liable for these fees. We therefore recommend that once we are instructed that you do not liaise with the Debtor, but simply direct them back to us. However, if you are a firm of Solicitors then we are happy to work together.
The Debtor is no longer at the address I gave you, what happens now?
The Writ allows us to enforce the Judgment debt at any address. Therefore, we offer a ‘no trace, no fee’ Tracing Service.
Do you work with the Police?
Yes, we do. Under the Criminal Law Act 1977 it is an offence to obstruct and Enforcement Officer, and under Schedule 12 of the Tribunal, Courts & Enforcement Act 2007 – clause 68 it is an offence to interfere with Controlled Goods or to obstruct an Enforcement Agent.
The Police also have a duty to assist enforcement agents in the execution of a Writ under section 99, schedule 7, paragraph 5 of the Courts Act 2003. None of our Enforcement Agents would request the assistance of the Police lightly, and we would liaise as necessary with the relevant police force when dealing with travellers / squatters.
What is an Abortive / Compliance Fee?
This fee is applicable the moment each Notice of Enforcement is sent to the Debtor. It is a £75.00 + VAT fee chargeable to you for whatever reason enforcement is unsuccessful. It could be that the Debtor has no assets or intent to pay or has simply moved address. Ordinarily you would have paid this fee to us at the time of instruction.
What is ‘Nulla Bona’?
This simply means that the Debtor has no goods to be seized or has goods of an insufficient value. We can provide you with a ‘Certificate of Nulla Bona’ which allows you to instruct another HCEO or you can issue a Bankruptcy Petition / Winding up Petition against the Debtor without the formal requirement of serving a Statutory Demand.
How long does a Writ last?
The Writ lasts for 12 months from the date the ‘Notice of Enforcement’ was issued, or 12 months from the Debtor last made a payment to us against the Writ. A Writ can be renewed if required.
What happens if you are unsuccessful?
There are several alternative remedies available to you which our sister company Taylor Aitken will be happy to assist you with. For details of ‘alternative remedies’ click here.
How will I know what is happening with my case?
The moment we receive the sealed Writ you will receive an advisory email from us detailing the next phase of enforcement: the ‘Compliance Stage’. This is when we issue a regulatory ‘Notice of Enforcement’. Often the Debtor makes full payment to us during this stage, and should this happen, you will be notified.
If the Debtor does not make full payment, then the case goes to the Enforcement Stages, and you will be notified that this has happened. You will be informed of everything that is happening to your Judgement debt going forward in the form of reports, emails, or telephone calls. And of course, you can always contact us for an update.