What is High Court Enforcement?

Updated: May 16

The answer lays on the internet where there is a plethora of information about a subject we love here at Shergroup. Take a look at this link on Wikipedia for some initial background information.

But it would be a fair question to ask what’s all the interest about.


Twenty years ago, High Court Enforcement Officers weren’t even on the radar of policy officials who were going to axe their predecessors, Under Sheriffs and Sheriff’s Officers, from the England and Welsh legal system. Research evidence was emerging from Warwick University that the county court enforcement was not meeting the expectations of users.


What is the High Court?

In England and Wales, creditors can obtain a claim for money that you owe within either the County Court or the High Court. Most creditors will drive action against you in the County Court.

High Court procedures, from the matter of the claim, up to the court making a judgment, are the same as in the County Court. However, there are important differences between enforcement procedures in the two courts.


Enforcing CCJs in the High Court

If a creditor has a CCJ against you, they may be able to enforce it in the High Court by taking control of goods.

‘Taking control of goods’ means High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs) encouraging you. HCEOs are High Court bailiffs. If the HCEOs obtain entry, they may list your goods and demand you to sign a ‘controlled goods agreement’.


High court judgments

If your judgment was obtained in the High Court, the creditor can apply for a writ of control:

  • as soon as the judgment has been gained, unless you have applied for a stay of execution; or

  • as soon as a payment enhances overdue under the terms of a stay of execution.

If a creditor requires to utilise a writ of control to enforce a CCJ or high court judgment, it will automatically be assigned by the High Court unless six years or more have passed since the date of judgment. A writ of control is legitimate for 12 months and can be renewed by the creditor.


The creditor will give a stamped copy of the writ to the HCEO. The HCEO will usually work to take goods quite quickly after the issue of the writ.


Advance warning

The debtor will receive advance notice from the HCEO that they plan to take control of your goods. When the debtor receives the notice, he can pay the money via HCEO, or directly to the creditor, before the HCEO attempts to take control of your goods.


Stay of execution

A 'stay of execution' is an order given by the High Court which holds HCEOs acting as long as you meet specific conditions, such as paying the debt by set instalments.


High Court enforcement officers. What can they do?

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. The HCEO is a type of enforcement agent or bailiff. Before 2004, HCEOs were known as Sheriff's Officers and were responsible for enforcing