The Things You Always Wanted to Ask About High Court Enforcement But Didn't Like Too!

Updated: Feb 25



A High Court enforcement officer (HCEO) is an officer of the High Court of England and Wales responsible for enforcing judgments of the High Court, often by taking legal control of goods or recovering land and/or property. Prior to 2004, HCEOs were known as Sheriff's Officers and were responsible for enforcing High Court Writs on behalf of the High Sheriff for each bailiwick in England and Wales. Today High Court Enforcement Officers are personally responsible for the enforcement of Writs issued in their name. They take the place of the High Sheriff in terms of this responsibility. High Court Enforcement Officers operate in all 105 postcodes across England and Wales. They are a separate part of the UK legal system to the Sheriff's Officers appointed in Scotland.


Q| Who are High Court Enforcement Officers?

A| High Court Enforcement Officers or HCEOs are appointed by the Lord Chancellor to enforce Writs of Execution issued out of the High Court of England and Wales. The Writ of Control is the most common type of Writ and is issued to enforce payment of a money judgment. The Writ used to be known as a Writ of Fieri Facias, or Fi Fa. Other forms of Writ include |

A Writ of Possession | used to recover land and/or property after an Order for Possession has been issued

A Writ of Assistance | issued to assist or support the enforcement of a Writ of Possession

A Writ of Restitution | issued after the land has been re-occupied following the enforcement of a Writ of Possession

A Combined Writ of Possession and Control | used to recover land and money owing

A Writ of Delivery | used to recover specific assets

Writs date back to the start of the English Common law and have some wonderful old Latin names - these include |

A Writ of Venditioni Exponas

A Writ of Ne Exeat Regno


Q| How to become High Court Enforcement Officer?

A| For details of the Educational Pathway to become a High Court Enforcement Agent please visit the website for the High Court Enforcement Officers Association at https://www.hceoa.org.uk/members/how-to-become-a-member. This sets out the full scale of the educational qualifications which are needed along with the practical training needed to become a High Court Enforcement Officer. If you are interested in pursuing a career in High Court Enforcement, Shergroup's CEO, Claire Sandbrook would be pleased to set up a call with you to discuss where you are in your journey to becoming an AHCEO and High Court Enforcement Agent. You can message her via our website at hub@shergroup.com.


Q| Who regulates High Court Enforcement Officers?

A| High Court Enforcement Officers are regulated by the Lord Chancellor's "Delegated Person". This person is appointed by the Lord Chancellor to keep High Court Enforcement Officers in check and in line with their statutory licence.


Q| Who pays High Court Enforcement Officer?

A| The Judgment Debtor will usually pay the fees and disbursements of the High Court Enforcement Officer. These charges are added to the Writ of Control or Writ of Delivery. It is unusual for fees to be added to a Writ of Possession but occasionally the Court will combine a money judgment or costs order with a possession order. In such a situation the High Court Enforcement Officer is entitled to charge the allowable statutory fees to the Writ.


Q| Who employs High Court Enforcement Officers?

A| High Court Enforcement Officers are appointed by the Lord Chancellor, through the recommendation of his "Delegated Person", who is the Senior Master of the Queen's Bench Division. High Court Enforcement Officers can be employed by a business that provides High Court Enforcement services. Often they are senior enforcement professionals who own and operate their own businesses.


Q| What is a High Court Enforcement Officer?

A| High Court Enforcement Orders and County Court Judgments and Orders which are transferred to the High Court for enforcement, often relate to the recovery of money or land. Orders are converted into Writs which then give the High Court Enforcement Officer the authority to enforce the terms of the Order i.e. to pay the money or to recover the land. The most usual form of Writ is the Writ of Control which is the modern-day name for the Writ of Fieri Facias. This Writ gives authority to the High Court Enforcement to take the goods of the Judgment Debtor into control and sell them by auction or another method of sale allowed by the High Court if the judgment debt is not paid. A Writ of Possession gives the High Court Enforcement Officer the authority to recover possession of land and or premises described in the Writ by evicting trespassers at the address.


Q| What do High Court Enforcement Officers Earn?

A| High Court Enforcement Officers are entitled to charge the Judgment Debtor statutory fees as set out in the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014. These Regulations set out the fees that a High Court Enforcement Officer may add to the amount of the judgment as part of the enforcement process. Where necessary the fees can be subject to a fee review by the High Court to ensure they are correct.


Q| What can High Court Enforcement take?

A| High Court Enforcement Officers can take a range of goods from a person's home except for the goods which are outlined in Regulation 4 of the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 and are defined as "exempt". This is quite an extensive list of goods and can be checked at Regulation 4 (1) of these Regulations. High Court Enforcement Agents are trained only to take goods into legal control that are not exempt. Luxury items including large flat-screen TV's, Games Consoles, Jewellery, Antiques and excess items over and above what is needed to meet the reasonable needs of a person or family unit can be taken into legal control.


Q| What are High Court Enforcement Officers allowed to take

A| High Court Enforcement Officers are able to take goods into legal control through their appointed agents except for the goods which are outlined in Regulation 4 of the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013. The word "Goods" is defined in Paragraph 3 of Schedule 12 to the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. It means property of any description, other than land; which is not exempt. High Court Enforcement Agents are trained to identify goods that are and are not exempt.


Q| What are High Court Enforcement Officers allowed to do?

A| High Court Enforcement Officers, and Enforcement Agents working in their names, are strictly regulated by their professional bodies and ultimately by the UK Government's Ministry of Justice. The Regulation flows from Schedule 12 of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 and the Courts Act 2003, which created the position of a High Court Enforcement Officer. For advice on what an enforcement agent can do when at your property please look at the UK Government website - see https://www.gov.uk/your-rights-bailiffs


Q| What are High Court Enforcement Officers?

A| The debt does not need to be argued in the High Court; provided the amount owed is at least £600 (in 2014), the debt did not arise in a matter covered by the Consumer Credit Act 1974, and payment has not been made within the specified time, a County Court judgment can be transferred to the High Court for enforcement. The High Court fee for issuing a writ of control is £66[citation needed]; together with the HCEO's fees, this £66 court fee is added by the writ to the amount to be recovered from the debtor.


Q| How to stop High Court Enforcement?

A| To stop a High Court Enforcement Officer enforcing a Writ against you or your business you will need to have an Order from the Court "staying" enforcement. An Order for a Stay of Execution will be obeyed by the High Court Enforcement Officer and any agent working in his or her name. But you need to act quickly and should apply immediately to the County Court or High Court for an application to stop the enforcement process.


Q| How to instruct High Court Enforcement Officer?

A| To make it really easy to instruct a High Court Enforcement Officer click on the service provided by Shergroup where you can upload your CCJ at https://www.shergroup.com/product-page/cashflow-county-court-judgment-ccj-transfer


Q| How to get High Court Enforcement?

A| This is easy! Just go to Shergroup's Cashflow Solutions for money judgments, or Property Solutions for possession orders and click on the service that suits you best! Whatever you need in High Court Enforcement, the Shergroupies have all the solutions!


Q| How much do High Court Enforcement Agents earn?

A| According to the UK Government's UK Career Service, an Enforcement Agent (aka "bailiff") can earn between £18,000 to £40,000 per year.


Q| How much does High Court Enforcement cost?

A| For a Judgment Creditor, the cost of High Court Enforcement is limited to a fee for managing the issue of a Writ of Control, issuing the Writ, and the Compliance Fee which covers any abortive action when a money judgment is enforced. Shergroup charges a single fee for this work of £156 inclusive of VAT. If the Judgment Debtor pays the full amount due under the Writ then this £156 investment by the Judgment Creditor is refunded back. All other charges which are allowed to be charged by the High Court Enforcement Officer are payable by the Judgment Debtor.



Q| How much do High Court Enforcement Officers get paid UK? How much do High Court Enforcement Agents get paid?

A| High Court Enforcement Agents are paid out of the commission that High Court Enforcement Officers charge. The fees charged are statutory and are set out in the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014. These Regulations set out the fees that a High Court Enforcement Officer may add to the amount of the judgment as part of the enforcement process. Where necessary the fees can be subject to a fee review by the High Court to ensure they are correct. Arrangements for the payment of fees between Officer and Agent are contractual and private. What is clear is that the paying party can only be charged the amounts allowed in the 2014 Regulations.


Q| How much commission does a High Court Enforcement Officer get?

A| Not always. High Court Enforcement Agents are employed or sub-contract their services to High Court Enforcement Officers in different types of the working environment. Some may be paid on commission, some on salary, some on a combination of both. The fees that are charged by the High Court Enforcement Officer are based on a commission basis of what is paid under the Writ of Control.


Q| Can High Court Enforcement enter your house?

A High Court Enforcement Officer can enter your house using one of the specified methods detailed in the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013.


Q| Can High Court Enforcement Agents take pets?

A| Domestic pets are classed as "exempt goods" under Paragraph 4 (1) (c) of the Taking Control of Goods 2013 so they cannot be taken into legal control by enforcement agents under a High Court Writ of Control.


No, they can't. Pets are classed as "exempt goods" under Paragraph 4 (1) (c) of the Taking Control of Goods 2013 so they cannot be taken into legal control by enforcement agents under a High Court Writ of Control.


Q| Do High Court Enforcement Officers have to give notice?

A| High Court Enforcement Agents do have to give Notice to people they are visiting. For CCJs a Notice of Enforcement has to be served to give a Judgment Debtor 7 clear days notice of the attendance by the enforcement agent. For possession orders, a Notice of Eviction has to be served which gives the defendant 14 days notice of the date of eviction. When dealing with trespassers, no notice has to be given by the enforcement agents.


Q| How does High Court Enforcement work?

High Court Enforcement is the process by which Orders of the High Court are enforced against the people named as Defendants or Judgment Debtors in a civil court order or decision. High Court Enforcement Officers or HCEOs are appointed by the Lord Chancellor to carry out the work of enforcement. Writs of Execution are issued on paper from the High Court and are sent to the named High Court Enforcement Officer for the enforcement process to begin. The Writ of Control is the most common type of Writ and is issued to enforce payment of a money judgment. The Writ used to be known as a Writ of Fieri Facias, or Fi Fa. Other forms of Writ include |

A Writ of Possession | used to recover land and/or property after an Order for Possession as been issued

A Writ of Assistance | issued to assist or support the enforcement of a Writ of Possession

A Writ of Restitution | issued after the land has been re-occupied following the enforcement of a Writ of Possession

A Combined Writ of Possession and Control | used to recover land and money owing

A Writ of Delivery | used to recover specific assets

Writs date back to the start of the English Common law and have some wonderful old Latin names - these include |

A Writ of Venditioni Exponas

A Writ of Ne Exeat Regno


Q| Can High Court Enforcement Officers arrest you?

No. High Court Enforcement Officers have no powers of arrest. However, if you obstruct a High Court Enforcement Officer in the performance of their duties you may be arrested by a police officer and charged under Section 10 of the Criminal Justice Act 1977


Q| Can High Court Enforcement Officers force entry?

No. The Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 specifies how a High Court Enforcement Agent, working in the name of a High Court Enforcement Officer, can enter "relevant premises" for the purposes of taking legal control of goods.


Q| Are High Court Enforcement Officers self-employed?

Sometimes, because they own their own enforcement agency and Writs are issued to them in their own names.


Q| What are High Court Enforcement Officers?

A| The debt does not need to be argued in the High Court; provided the amount owed is at least £600 (in 2014), the debt did not arise in a matter covered by the Consumer Credit Act 1974, and payment has not been made within the specified time, a County Court judgment can be transferred to the High Court for enforcement. The High Court fee for issuing a writ of control is £66[citation needed]; together with the HCEO's fees, this £66 court fee is added by the writ to the amount to be recovered from the debtor.


Q| Do High Court Enforcement Officers work weekends?

A| Yes, they do. Under Regulation 12 of the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013, High Court Enforcement Agents can take control of goods on "any day of the week".



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