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What is a High Court Writ?

A High Court Writ is a formal directive granting High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs) authorisation to enter your business premises and undertake asset seizure, to liquidate assets to settle outstanding debts.

Facing a High Court Writ can be a daunting experience for both debtors and creditors.

But, as with most legal matters, understanding the process and knowing your rights can make all the difference.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the world of High Court Writs, exploring their purpose, consequences, and the role of High Court Enforcement Officers.

We’ll also discuss the options available to debtors and creditors and provide valuable tips for navigating this complex legal landscape.

Understanding High Court Writs

A High Court Writ is a formal mandate issued by the High Court, enabling High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs) to gain access to a debtor’s business premises and appropriate assets to satisfy outstanding financial obligations.

Creditors use writs to ensure repay debts owed CCJs are paid. If the judgment remains unpaid, enforcement action may be taken.

It is essential to note that High Court Writs are recorded on the Registry Trust for six years, potentially affecting a business’s ability to acquire loans.

Additionally, the total value of confiscated goods may exceed the initial debt, partly due to enforcement officer fees and because auction proceeds for individual items are often lower than their actual value.

A High Court Writ of Control typically remains valid for 12 months.

The costs involved in enforcing a High Court Writ can be found on the creditor’s fees and charges page.

These fees include the court fee, compliance stage fee, court fees, and enforcement stage fee, among others.

The High Court Writ Process

The process of obtaining a High Court Writ begins with the receipt of a County Court Judgment (CCJ).

The creditor then submits an application to the High Court for a Writ of Execution, which is served by HCEOs along with a Notice of Enforcement.

This Notice of Enforcement gives the debtor seven days to act before the HCEOs can seize goods.

High Court Enforcement Officers play a critical role in the enforcement process.

They have the authority to visit business premises and confiscate assets that can be sold to satisfy the debt.

Before seizing assets, HCEOs will attempt to obtain payment in full or arrange an appropriate payment plan with the debtor.

If the debtor fails to pay or reaches an agreement with the HCEO, the enforcement officer can proceed to remove and sell assets to recover the debt.

This process is governed by the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013.

Duration of High Court Writs

High Court Writs are valid for 12 months from the initial notice of enforcement.

During this period, the debtor is expected to satisfy the financial obligations specified in the writ.

Failure to do so may result in the HCEO taking further action, such as seizing additional assets or pursuing alternative methods of enforcement.

The Role of High Court Enforcement Officers

High Court Enforcement Officers have the authority to seize goods owned by limited companies, but they cannot seize personal assets

. Their primary role is to enter business premises and remove assets for sale in order to repay outstanding debts.

However, their power is not absolute, HCEOs can request a decision from the court to determine whether certain goods meet the domestic needs of the debtor and their family, or if the goods taken constitute tools of the trade.

In some cases, this may result in the return of specific assets to the debtor.

Limitations on High Court Enforcement Officer Actions

It is essential to understand the limitations of High Court Enforcement Officer actions.

For instance, HCEOs may enter a debtor’s home only if permitted by the court.

However, they can enter business premises without living accommodations attached, enabling them to seize assets in those locations.

This distinction is crucial for debtors to be aware of when facing a High Court Writ.

Options for Dealing with a High Court Writ

There are several options available to debtors facing a High Court Writ.

They can evaluate their financial position, apply for a Stay of Execution, settle the debt, create a payment schedule, explore financing alternatives, or consider a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA).

Each option has its pros and cons, and the best course of action will depend on the debtor’s unique circumstances.

A Stay of Execution is a means of completely halting a High Court Writ from proceeding, enabling the debtor to have the writ set aside.

To apply for a Stay of Execution, the debtor must provide adequate evidence demonstrating that the judgment should be set aside.

This option can provide temporary relief but may not be a permanent solution, as the debtor will still need to address the underlying financial issues.

A Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) is a legally binding agreement that allows businesses to settle their debts over a predetermined period.

Creditors and HCEOs are not allowed to take any action against the company during this period. This restriction has been put in place until further notice.

This option can provide debtors with breathing room to restructure their finances and repay the debt in a manageable way.

Transferring a County Court Judgment to the High Court

Transferring a County Court Judgment (CCJ) over £600 to the High Court for enforcement is a relatively straightforward process.

It can be done either by an appointed High Court Enforcement Officer or by filling in forms and submitting them to the court with a fee of £71.00.

The process requires the creditor to submit an application using form N244 and pay the court fee of £71.00.

Upon approval of the application, a writ of control can be obtained from the High Court or local district registry, allowing the HCEO to enforce the judgment.

Debtor Rights and Protections

Debtors have rights and protections when faced with a High Court Writ.

They have the right to be informed of court proceedings, to contest the court’s ruling, and to present evidence in their defense.

To prevent a Writ of Control, debtors may pay a court fee and request for the writ to be “stayed” (halted), or make an application to set the judgment aside.

It is crucial for debtors to be proactive in addressing their financial situation and seeking professional support when faced with a High Court Writ.

This may involve negotiating a payment arrangement with the creditor, seeking debt advice, or working with an insolvency practitioner to develop a repayment plan or arrange alternative finance options.

The Enforcement Process and Outcomes

If a debtor fails to pay or reach an agreement with the HCEO after receiving a Notice of Enforcement, the enforcement officer will proceed to remove and sell assets to recover the debt.

The HCEO assesses the assets seized to determine their potential value at auction, ensuring the proceeds provide a benefit to the claimant after the deduction of costs and fees.

Enforcement fees are collected by the HCEO concurrently with the amount owed on the judgment and the interest on it.

The debtor is responsible for paying the original debt, any interest, and all court and enforcement fees in their entirety.

If the proceeds from the sale of the goods do not cover the amount owed, the HCEO will return to the debtor to assess if any other goods may be sold.

If there are no more goods to sell, the HCEO will be unable to proceed with the writ unless the further direction is provided to a location where the debtor may possess goods.

Tips for Creditors and Debtors

For creditors, it is essential to provide accurate information about the debtor’s address, phone number, and email address to the High Court Enforcement Officer.

This improves the success of the Writ of Control by ensuring the HCEO can make contact with the debtor and take legal control.

Additionally, creditors should consider the cost and time involved in obtaining a High Court Writ, as it can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor.

Debtors should contemplate negotiation with the creditor before the issuance of the Writ to evade the associated cost and duration.

Upon the issuance of a Writ, debtors should take prompt action to attempt to reach an agreement with the creditor and/or seek counsel from a legal professional.

It is also important to remember that alternative methods of enforcement, such as charging orders and attachment of earnings, may be more appropriate in certain cases.

Both creditors and debtors should carefully consider their options and seek professional advice to determine the best course of legal action together.


In conclusion, understanding High Court Writs, the role of High Court Enforcement Officers, and the available options for dealing with such writs is crucial for both debtors and creditors.

By being proactive, informed, and seeking professional advice, both parties can navigate the complex landscape of High Court Writs and work towards a fair and reasonable resolution.

Remember, knowledge is power, and in the world of High Court Writs, it can make all the difference.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when you are served with a writ?

When served with a High Court Writ, it is imperative to take prompt action in order to avoid further legal consequences.

You should seek legal advice immediately to ensure you understand the terms and conditions of the writ and the available options for responding.

Failing to do so can result in severe penalties, including an arrest warrant and possible contempt of court proceedings.

Can I ignore a High Court writ?

It is not recommended to ignore a High Court writ, as this could result in severe consequences such as fines, legal fees, and contempt of court.

Seeking legal advice as soon as possible is the best course of action after receiving a writ from the High Court.

Can bailiffs force entry with a High Court writ?

Bailiffs can force entry with a High Court order. They will need to present the writ and show proof of what is owed before forcing entry.

They are only allowed to use reasonable force when entering your property.

What happens if I can’t pay a High Court writ?

If you cannot afford to pay a high court writ, it is important to take action as soon as possible.

Seek advice from legal professionals and make an application for a stay of execution’ on the high court bailiffs’ form N244 in order to come to an arrangement with the court bailiff.

Failing to take serious notice of such measures could lead to serious consequences.

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