How much does High Court Enforcement Cost? Answers for Creditors and Debtors

Updated: 37 minutes ago


Depending on what side of the judgment you’re on, different fees will apply. Either way, the fees charged by High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs), sheriffs, bailiffs are regulated by The Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014 (2014 Regulations). These follow on from the way HCEOs operate under the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 (2013 Regulations).

Since 2014 the fees charged by HCEOs are set out in the 4 stages of enforcement and writ of control which are:


The four stages of a writ of control:

  1. Compliance

  2. First Stage Enforcement

  3. Second Stage Enforcement

  4. Sale or Disposal Stage

What Is a Writ?

Writ refers to a formal document that decrees a person to operate or to cease doing a specific action. These documents are common law, which is usually issued after a judgment. Writs are of many forms including summonses, writs of execution, writs of habeas corpus, warrants, and orders.


What is a Writ of Control?

A Writ of Control requires a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) or enforcement agents to gain the power of and sell at auction the debtor's goods to receive the funds to settle a money judgment. A Writ of Control was earlier known as Writ of Fieri Facias (FiFa).


When can a Writ of Control be issued?

A Writ of Control is known as Warrant of Execution, which can be issued by the County Court shortly after the Court’s Judgment or Order is made for recovery of money. It is used to enforce a judgement in the High Court than in County Court and these CCJ are transferred to High court for Enforcement.


How long is a Writ of Control valid for?

A writ of control is valid for 12 months also can be restored by the creditor. If a creditor wants to use a writ of control to enforce a CCJ or high court judgment, it will automatically be issued by the High Court except for six years or more have passed since the date of judgment.


Facts about the Writ of Control

The writ of control was organised in April 2014, under the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 Part 3, 62 (4). It replaced the writ of fieri facias and, along with the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 and Taking Control of Goods Regulations (Fees) 2014, brought in several changes:

  • There are now four stages of enforcement, each with regulated fees. These are compliance, enforcement stage 1, enforcement stage 2 and sale or disposal stage. Some disbursements, court fees, may be added

  • An enforcement agent may now enforce 365 days a year, between the hours of 06:00 and 21:00

  • The writ of control is now valid for 12 months from the date of the Notice of Enforcement. It is likely to apply to the court to extend the writ. But, you may only do so once

  • On breaching of payment arrangement, the validity of the writ of control automatically extends to 12 months of the date of the breach.

Advantages of Enforcement by Writ of Control

  • forced entry into commercial bases with no previous warning

  • gives the power to take control of and trade debtor's goods and assets to the value of the judgment debt.

Disadvantages of Enforcement by Writ of Control

  • Not all types of goods can be controlled, this involves tools of the judgment debtor's trade, basic clothing, basic furniture, basic household goods

  • A creditor should be fairly certain that adequate assets will be available to control. Assets cover a debtor's car, caravan, motor-home, boat or garden equipment

Enforcement of a CCJ: How much does it cost to Transfer Up a CCJ to a High Court Writ?

The CCJ to pass for transfer up to the High Court for enforcement through a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) or enforcement need to be £600 or above, including fees & costs, and less than 6 years old.


To enforce County Court Judgment (CCJ), it must be transferred to the High Court for enforcement. There is a court fee of £66 (recoverable for debtors) for the transfer up to receive the writ of control.


High Court Writ of Control

A person or business can apply for a Writ of Control in the High Court, to enforce a judgment obtained against a debtor, to recover the unpaid monies owed to them. If payment of the debt is not obtained or a payment plan is not agreed, the High Court Writ of Control provides for the seizure, removal and trade of the debtor’s goods.


How much does a high court writ cost?

For creditors or judgment creditors, as they are officially known under a warrant of Control, high court writ of control, the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations charged are limited to the Compliance Stage fee of £75.00 plus VAT for each Enforcement Notice which is sent to the judgment debtor. If there is only one address where the judgment debtor is believed to have goods then it will just be one Compliance Stage fee.


If the HCEO or the judgment creditor finds more than one address, then a Notice of Enforcement will have to be served at each address. This, in turn, will attract a Compliance Stage fee for each address. So this means it's important to do the groundwork in finding the best address for enforcement as early as possible in the collection process. In addition to the Compliance Stage fee. the judgment creditor will have to pay the £66.00 court fee, small claim court fees, money claim online fees, county court claim to issue the writ of control fee unless they can prove a fee exemption (see https://www.gov.uk/court-fees-what-they-are).


The bottom line is that a judgment creditor can expect to invest £156.00 for any judgment they send to HCEO fees, bailiff fees & costs for enforcement. This sum will be recouped from the debtor if the debtor either pays the judgment in full or makes an arrangement to pay over an agreed period.


Judgments transferred to an HCEO attract interest at 8% from the date of transfer to the High Court if under £5000, or from the date of the judgment itself if over £5000. On larger value judgments this interesting figure can be valuable and can help to offset the cost and inconvenience of enforcement action.


Enforcement fees and stages


1. Compliance Stage

This fee will be added to the judgment debt, along with high court enforcement costs and high court enforcement fees, interest and the costs of execution, writ of execution when a judgment is sent to an HCEO for enforcement. This fee, as mentioned already, is £75 plus VAT, making a total of £90. When we receive an instruction to enforce a judgement, enforce a money judgment we add this fee on to our case management system, and depending on the outcome of the enforcement action, either the debtor will pay the fee, or it will fall on the creditor if we are not able to recover the judgment debt.


The legislation declares that a Notice of Enforcement (Compliance letter) is given to the debtor informing them about.

  • Debt value.

  • Costs and interest

  • Details of the debt such as the claimant and court reference numbers

  • How to make payment

  • The date and time the payment must be made by to prevent enforcement action

  • Costs of enforcement action

  • Debt support agencies details


2. First Stage Enforcement: Stage 1

This fee is added to the judgment debt when the HCEO’s enforcement agent attends at the address on the writ of control or writ of possession. The fee comprises both a fixed fee and a commission fee as follows:

  • Fixed fee of £190 plus VAT – making a total of £228

  • Commission Fee of 7.5% plus VAT of the sum to be recovered under the writ of control form – over the sum of £1,000

If a judgment debt pays the enforcement agents in full at the time of the first visit or sets up an agreed payment arrangement, then only the Compliance Fee plus this fee will be added to the judgment debt, along with high court sheriff costs, and interest. The HCEO’s office calculates the full amount and negotiates the payment arrangements with the judgment debtor.


3. Second Stage Enforcement: Stage 2

This fee becomes payable when the judgment debtor either:

  • Refuses to make a payment at the time of the enforcement agent’s visit; or

  • Refuses to set up a payment plan with a signed agreement in place – which is referred to as “a controlled goods agreement”

The amount of this additional fee is set at £495 plus VAT – making a total of £594.


4. Sale or Disposal Stage

Ultimately if the enforcement agent and the HCEO can’t achieve payment in full or an agreed payment arrangement, the HCEO will escalate the enforcement of the Writ of Control to the Sale or Disposal Stage. There are many factors which can decide if this fee is going to be charged – not least the value of the goods taken into legal control and their forced auction sale value. You shouldn’t be surprised if a decision is made only to remove goods if an indemnity is given by the creditor to cover the cost of removal of the goods. Particularly with cars – it can be expensive to remove a car which has a low second-hand value.


So it comes down to a question of economics. Sometimes the only leverage the HCEO and creditor have is to escalate the high court writ, writs to this stage to underline to the debtor the seriousness of the situation.


Court Claim for Money: Enforce a Judgment

If that happens, or the natural course of the Writ is to go to this stage, then the following fees are added to the judgment debt:

  • A further fixed fee of £525 plus VAT – making a total of £630

  • A further commission fee of 7.5% plus VAT of the sum to be recovered – again where the amount of that sum is over £1,000

By this stage, the total commission payable by the judgment debtor is 15% of the judgment debt, plus VAT and the fixed fees for Compliance, Stage 1, Stage 2, and Sale and Disposal Stage.


Exceptional Disbursements

When dealing with Writs of Control involving high-value assets such as aircraft or valuable works of art, an HCEO can apply to the Court for the specialist costs of removal, maintenance, insurance, and storage to be added to the judgment debt. If this becomes necessary our expert team will discuss the matter with you directly.


Routine Disbursements

The HCEO is permitted to add the high court writ cost of storage, auctioneers fees and locksmiths to the final charges made under the Writ of Control without the need to apply to the Court.


How much does it cost to get a writ?

If you are a creditor, your investment in transferring your judgment to the High Court is going to be £156. You will be entitled to get back £66.00 plus £51.75 against this investment in the event a Writ of Control is issued and the debtor has the funds to pay either immediately or over an agreed period. You may be asked to indemnify the HCEO if it’s a borderline case but in our experience, we only allow cases to go to the Sale and Disposal Stage if there is a real chance of recovery.


If you are a debtor, our advice is to pay what is due on the Notice of Enforcement and contact our office as soon as you receive this Notice. The Notice is clearly marked and will come to you via email or postal service. You have 7 clear days to arrange payment of the outstanding judgment before the enforcement agent attends. If you pay the judgment in this period in full you will only be charged the £75.00 plus VAT.


If you can’t pay in full or ignore the Notice of Enforcement then further fees will be added. These can become expensive so please take legal advice or go to your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau to seek support on what to do next.


What happens if you can't pay a High Court writ?

If you miss any payments, then the bailiff, the enforcement officer can seize your assets to the value of the debt and trade them at auction.

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