High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) 


High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs) (often known as Sheriffs) are authorised by the Government and must have Associate Membership status of the High Court Enforcement Officers Association (HCEOA) to perform their duties. HCEOs abide by the National Standards for Enforcement Agents.

Unlike a County Court Bailiff, who is a civil servant, a HCEO is a private individual. In order to appoint an HCEO, a Writ of Control has to be obtained from the County Court and be presented to the High Court. The debt must be over £600.

Our appointed HCEO will attend the address of the Debtor with a view of obtaining payment or levying against assets belonging to the debtor. As the HCEO cannot charge you, the creditor , upfront fees, they will charge their expenses against the debtor on a successful collection with the addition of costs onto the value of your CCJ. Clearly, HCEOs have a vested interest to ensure they are successful in locating the debtor and the debtor’s assets.



High Court Writ Enforcement by Bailiffs

When a County Court Judgement (CCJ) has been issued in your favour as a creditor confirming that a debtor owes you a debt in excess of £ 600 and this CCJ remains unpaid, you can transfer the CCJ to the High Court so that a Writ of Control can be issued. As the CCJ has been ignored, the CCJ is upgraded and now needs to be enforced. 

The High Court Writ names the High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO/Bailiff) whom we deem most apt for that debtor and who has the power to remove assets up to the value of the debt so as to sell them at auction to repay the debt.

It is to be noted that, since the HCEOs have more powers than a County Court Bailiff, their success rate is generally higher. The HCEOs can force entry to a commercial premises to obtain goods and their extensive powers also include the ability to enter residential premises through an unlocked door or normal means of access and to climb perimeter walls and fences.


Writ of Control

When the High Court issues a Writ of Control (formerly known as a Writ of Execution), it enables enforcement of a judgement of possession that a plaintiff has obtained from a court. It authorises a suitable official such as a bailiff to take possession of goods/assets owned by a debtor for a debt owed to a creditor. Since the Court sends the defendant a notice that a Writ of Control has been issued and that payment must be received within seven days of the date of issue of the Writ of Control, the seizure of goods/assets would occur once these seven days have elapsed.

The Writ of Control was formerly known as “Writ of Fieri Facias” or “Writ of Fi Fa”. It is used for a debt exceeding £600 EXCEPT for debts regulated under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 (the latter agreements can only be enforced in the County Court by their own County Court Bailiffs).

The Writ of Control is obtained on your behalf from the High Court and issued in the name of the High Court Enforcement Officer (Bailiff). 

It is the responsibility of the High Court Enforcement Officer (Bailiff)  to carry out the enforcement lawfully within the legislation and in the name of the High Court. 

A Writ of Control allows Bailiffs to attend the debtor's place of trade or residential property to use the Writ of Control on the debtor's goods/assets with a view of removing them to sell at auction to obtain liquid funds to pay to you, the creditor,  and honor the court order.



Advantages of a Writ of Control

A Writ of Control has considerable clout because only an Order of the High Court can stop its enforcement. Police, solicitors, "Citizen’s Advice" and other entities cannot cancel the writ obtained by your Bailiff and issued by the High Court on behalf of you, the creditor,  to recover the money owed.


What Goods Can a Bailiff Take?

The Bailiff (HCEO ) can remove goods that belong to the debtor with a view of selling them at auction if the debtor refuses to enter negotiations with the Bailiff. After assets have been located, the Bailiff will arrange for transportation to arrive to remove goods into removal vehicles for auction.  


What Can't a Bailiff Take?

A Bailiff cannot take items that are exempt goods, including those items which are necessary to satisfy the basic needs of the debtor or their family (white goods, beds, children’s belongings).

A Bailiff also cannot take any goods that constitute ‘tools of the trade’ which are for the personal use of the Defendant in their trade or profession that have a maximum value of £1,350, e.g. Tools, books, vehicles and other items of equipment. 

Furthermore, bailiffs cannot remove items that are leased, rented or on hire purchase agreements or goods which may have already been taken into control by another Bailiff.


Can a Bailiff Force Entry?

Bailiffs can only enter the Defendant's home if they are permitted entry by the person home. If there is nobody there, the Bailiff can enter if a door is left unlocked.  Bailiffs may be able to break into business premises if there is no living accommodation attached and they have reason to believe the debtor's assets are inside.



What if a Debtor Offers to Pay the Bailiff?

It is likely for a debtor to claim inability to pay and advise the Bailiff that they cannot settle in full.

However, the Writ of Control directs the Bailiff to enforce the Writ by taking control of assets and/or remove them for sale. 

The Bailiff will generally forward proposals received for instructions and it is for the claimant to accept or reject any requests for time to pay as no obligation exists regarding acceptance. 

The Bailiff’s job is to take full payment or remove goods/assets to the value of the debt as realised from the proceeds of sale at auction.




Other types of Writ enforceable by HCEOs

The other types of Writs that can be obtained for enforcement by HCEOs are:
Writ of Possession – recovery of land after an Order for Possession as been obtained
Writ of Assistance – assists in the enforcement of a Writ of Possession
Writ of Restitution – issued following the re-occupation of land after the execution of a Writ                                                                                             of Possession
Writ of Control and Possession – recovery of land and money
Writ of Delivery – recovery of specific assets


Please call us at UK-Debtcollection.com for a friendly, no-obligation chat about HCEOs and about the type of Writ most suitable for your situation.