A to Z of Enforcement – Part One
by David Carter of The Sheriffs Office
Here is an A to Z guide of key aspects of debt recovery and enforcement. Over time, we will be building this guide into a full glossary of terms and adding this to the site. In the mean time, please take a look at A to F!
A - Abortive fee
The abortive fee is set out by the Ministry of Justice and the High Court Enforcement Officers Association and, under current regulations, all HCEOs are required to charge a fee of £60 (plus VAT) per address visited but only if enforcement is unsuccessful. The most common reasons enforcement is unsuccessful are: a) the debtor has absconded and cannot be traced; b) the debtor is subject to insolvency proceedings; c) the debtor has no assets of value to remove and sell.
B - Bailiffs – County Court and Certificated
County Court bailiffs are civil servants employed by the court. They use a warrant of execution to enforce CCJs valued up to £5,000. The warrant costs £100 (no abortive fee). The County Court bailiff is required to give notice to the debtor in writing that they are intending to enforce. HCEOs do not need to do this.
Certificated bailiffs – this is a bailiff has been granted a certificate by a judge to levy distraint. The general certificate lasts for two years and cannot be granted to anyone employed in a business that buys debt or any officer of a county court. A landlord may use the ancient common law remedy of distress for rent to recover this money. He does not need a court order and can simply instruct a Certificated Bailiff to enter the premises and seize goods (“distrain”) in order to sell them to recover the rent.
C – County Court Judgment (CCJ)
If you have an outstanding sum owed to you and have chased the debt unsuccessfully, you should write a Letter Before Action to the debtor, advising them that, unless you receive full payment within 14 days, you will commence court action to recover the debt. You may either use a solicitor to obtain your CCJ or you can use the Government’s self-service called Money Claim Online. If the debtor still does not pay, you may proceed to enforcement. CCJs can be enforced for 6 years from the date they are awarded.
D - Delivery – writ of
The Writ of Delivery is most commonly used by companies to recover specific goods that have not been fully paid for and the defendant is in arrears, for example finance companies. The Writ of Delivery is appropriate where the claimant wants to recover the goods, rather than receive payment for them. However, it can be combined with a money order under a Writ of Fieri Facias if necessary.
E - Employment tribunal award enforcement
With the new Fast Track scheme, employment tribunal awards can be easily transferred to the High Court for enforcement. You need to download and complete the Form N471 and send it with the award and £50 court fee (recoverable from the former employer) to your HCEO, who will then obtain the writ on your behalf and commence enforcement. There is no minimal value to the award for High Court Enforcement and there is no abortive fee.
F - Fieri Facias/Fi Fa – writ of
The Writ of Fi Fa is the High Court version of a warrant of execution in the County Court. It empowers an HCEO to seize goods belonging to a judgment debtor in order that the judgment debt is settled, either by way of payment or sale. No notice is given to the debtor that a Writ of Fi Fa has been issued. The first contact will be a visit from an enforcement officer to seize goods. This Writ will soon be known as a Writ of Control.
Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sheriffs High Court Enforcement Ltd, trading as The Sheriffs Office. Sheriffs High Court Enforcement Ltd does not take any responsibility for the views of the author. The author will not be held responsible for any comments posted by visitors to this site. Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice. The author has used his best endeavours to make this article as accurate and complete as possible, but requests that the reader be aware that the law of England and Wales frequently changes. The author strongly advises the reader to take legal advice before embarking on any enforcement action.