Updated: Dec 3, 2020
The term “High Court Enforcement” by its very nature sounds expensive, doesn’t it? But don’t let that put you off if you are a creditor who needs to enforce a CCJ or another form of order. Sometimes even though the county court system may seem cheaper to use at first glance, actually it’s inbuilt delays and management, can end up costing you money.
High Court enforcement has always been about swift access and responsive action. HCEOs and their enforcement agents are paid on results so there is always an incentive to move fast and get a matter paid or completed.
There are two probable areas where you may have seen High Court Enforcement Officers on the telly and thought to yourself, “I need that service!”.
The first and more usual is where you have obtained a judgment from the court for a sum of money you are owed. Usually, the judgment will be a CCJ (County Court Judgment), but it could be a High Court Judgment, an Employment Tribunal Award, a possession order with rent arrears included, or a judgment from Scotland, Northern Ireland, or further afield. In High Court enforcement all roads lead to London and the High Court on the Strand. So whatever type of judgment you think you have we offer a no-obligation service to check the judgment and tell you what it is and how to enforce it.
Make a Court Claim for Money: Enforce a judgment - CCJ to High Court Enforcement
So, we think the good part for creditors is the small investment you have to make to get your enforcement process moving with people who know what they’re doing.
Diving into the more familiar CCJ, it is possible you obtained your CCJ from Money Claim Online or a local county court. You should budget for the following costs:
£66.00 which is the fee payable to Court Service to issue the Writ of Control
£75.00 for the Compliance Fee with VAT (which totals £90.00) to cover the situation if the Judgment Debtor can’t pay the HCEO in any shape or form.
It makes sense to budget for these two sums totalling £156.00, particularly if you just have the one judgment to enforce. If the Judgment Debtor has the money to pay, then both sums will be recoverable and returned back to you. So really, it’s a question of cashflow for you with a view to getting it back. If you have repeat business for an HCEO you should ask about commercial terms to deal with volume cases.
Once CCJ is with the HCEO then the fees payable are nearly 100% with the debtor to pay.
High Court enforcement - HCEO Fees, Writ of Control
There is one caveat to the good side of High Court enforcement if you are a creditor and we don’t want you to be disappointed. Simply put if you accept payment from the debtor in the full and final settlement once the Writ has been issued, without including the HCEO’s fees, you will find the HCEO will be asking you to pay those fees.
We do see people attempt this to save the cost of the HCEO which is a mistake. The HCEO will look to the creditor to pay the enforcement fees out of the settlement figure. So, a word to the wise, once a Writ of Control has been issued, let the HCEO team negotiate on your behalf, and handle the arrangements for payment, and offers so you don’t get stung with a bill for HCEO fees. You have after all outsourced the job of enforcement to them, so let them have the headache of recovering the money for you!
So remember | under a Writ of Control, provided you do not agree to or accept payments directly from the judgment debtor, the only other fee you may have to pay is an abortive fee of £75.00 if the High Court Enforcement Officer is unsuccessful in enforcing your Writ. This fee is payable in every instance where a Writ of Control is unsuccessful.
Assuming you take our advice, then any other fees that are added to the judgment will be payable by the Judgment Debtor. The fee scales are contained in the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014, and they increase over time if the Judgment Debtor cannot or will not pay the judgment.
It is in the best interests of both parties for the Judgment Debtor to pay the judgment debt when a Notice of Enforcement if first served. At this point, the fee is only £75.00 plus VAT. The debtor has 7 days to make payment in full. This will then stop the Writ of Control being issued and everyone can move on!
Enforcement Process - Compliance Fees, Enforcement fees
You may like this part of our blog – or you may not. It depends on where you stand on either side of the judgment. But there is no doubt High Court enforcement can become expensive for people who don’t pay early enough in the process. The Government tackled this in 2013 through new Regulations, The Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013, now has a built-in “pause” in the enforcement process if the debtor can pay the judgment debt in full and keep the fee to the small Compliance Fee, rather than the bigger fees that come after that.
This “pause” is for the debtor to get the money together to pay the judgment in full. An offer to pay by instalments in this period of 7 days will not stop the Writ of Control being issued unless the Judgment Debtor takes steps to do this. Offers frequently fall into further default, so after 7 days the HCEO team will attend and look to take control of the Judgment Debtor’s goods. At this stage, the fee regulations kick in and subject to certain restrictions a Stage 1 Enforcement fees of £190 and 7.5% of the value of the debt over £1000 will be added to the judgment.
Now on a sizeable judgment, the 7.5% commission fee can be considerable. And if the Judgment Debtor is unable to pay, for whatever reason, the matter can escalate to a Stage 2 fixed fee of £495.00 being added to the judgment. So, within a very short space of time, £690.00 is added to the judgment and then there’s the 7.5% commission on top of that.
There will be more bad news for the Judgment Debtor if the Stage 3 Enforcement fee is invoked. At this point, the HCEO team, are at a point in their process, where either the debtor cannot raise the funds to pay the judgment in full or by instalments, and there are goods which can be removed for sale to raise the debt. From there it is hoped the Judgment Debtor will see the sense of getting the funds together to pay the debt. Stage 3 fees add a further £525.00 to the judgment debt and a further 7.5% commission based on the value of the debt.
A worked example of a judgment debt situation can look like this:
Here you can see that the total fees for an original debt of £8,663.00 have ended up at £2,607.70 plus VAT. That’s the “Ugly” part but the fees are laid down in statute and so they are difficult to argue against.
If the Judgment Debtor had paid at the time the Notice of Enforcement was served over £2,500 of fees could have been avoided.
In a nutshell
You can call our call into our friendly and knowledgeable team and we can give you our no-obligation assessment of your enforcement options and a personalized enforcement strategy.
Even if you have tried to enforce a judgment in the county court or with another HCEO and haven’t achieved the outcome you wanted, talk to us. We may have a different view or enforcement strategy to share.