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What Powers Do High Court Enforcement Officers Have?

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What Powers Do High Court Enforcement Officers Have

Written by

John A Waller

Director 

Reviewed May 9th, 2021

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What Powers Do High Court Enforcement Officers Have? How does it affect me as a director? Can they close my limited company down?

What is a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO)?

High Court enforcement officer acts as a debt collector operating only in England and Wales.

They can perform any of the following:

  • A High Court Judgment:
    • High Court Writ, as well as
    • Writs of:
      • Possession;
      • Possession and Control;
      • Restitution;
      • Delivery and of Assistance
  • Employment Tribunal awards;
  • ACAS Awards;
  • High Court Possession Order;
  • County Court Possession orders assigned to the High Court for Execution
  • County Court Judgments (CCJ) for £600 or more.

An HCEO must comply with a code of practice pdf written by the! High Court Enforcement Association!.

Rights Enforcement Agents Have?

For a High Court enforcement officer to visit, they MUST have sent you a ‘Notice of Enforcement‘ notifying you that they intend to visit your premises. However, you legally have to have seven days notice.

  • They will secure payment and removal of goods.

The High Court enforcement officer’s initial action is to attend your premises, so they can primarily obtain payment or consent to an acceptable repayment scheme.

However, if the HCEO fails on both counts, they can request the court authorises the HCEO to seize assets easily removed for auction to realise the cash to pay the debt. 

HCEO often decides not to remove assets there and ten. However, they list the items on the premises (Controlled Goods Agreement signed by both the debtor and the HCEO) until the removal of the goods. This will then act as security to facilitate a plan to repay the debt. If the debtor fails the plan, the HCEO may uplift the goods detailed in the controlled goods’ agreement without further court approval.

HCEOs may only seize assets and goods up to the debt’s value, plus the cost of collection, interest, and court costs.

  • Rights of entry and control

Suppose the HCEO fails to either obtain payment or an acceptable repayment plan. With a High Court Writ of Control, the HCEO is duly authorised to enter a premise and then take control of assets. The HCEO allows the debtor (Company or Individual who owes money) a reasonable time to allow peaceful entry to their premises. However, if denied entry peacefully? Then the HCEO may enforce entry legally, providing the premises are commercial and not residential. Once an HCEO has enforced an entry, they are responsible for ensuring that the commercial premises are kept secure once they leave. 

Assets & Goods, a High Court Enforcement Officer, may Seize?

Company assets & goods that HCEOs may seize:

  • Furniture;
  • Money;
  • Stock;
  • Company Vehicles;
  • Machinery;
  • Equipment.

Enforcement Officers may not remove the items listed below:

  • Those items which are indispensable for the basic domestic needs of the defendant and their immediate family, including bedding, clothing, furniture, cookers etc.;
  • Objects that form part of the tools of the trade the defendant requires carrying out their work personally to perform their business or profession, which can be up to £1,350; examples are:
      • Books, 
      • Hand Tools,  
      • Vehicles and 
      • Other items of equipment
  • Third-party goods not belonging to the defendant.
  • Objects subject to:
      • Leases;
      • Rental agreements;
      • Contract Hire.or in rental contracts. 
  • Goods already seized by any other High Court enforcement officer, enforcement officer or county court bailiff.

Preventing Action by a High Court Enforcement Officer?

The easiest way is to pay the outstanding debt in full plus cost before they attend.

However, if you cannot repay the debt, you have seven days to attempt a resolution. 

Firstly, contact the creditor and HCEO before attendance. And agree to an acceptable repayment scheme acceptable to the creditor. This will stop further fees accruing if actioned within the seven days and agreed in writing.

If you have valid ground to settle your case, ask a solicitor to apply for a stay of execution quickly.

Subject to the court agreeing to set aside the judgement to allow you to plead your case. However, not all courts are lenient, as they may believe this should have been actioned before judgement. So act quickly and honestly.

The court will require:

  • You had no prior knowledge of any action or the issuing of the judgement.  
  • You can demonstrate your case is solid and has every legal chance of overturning the judgement, and not really trying for time.

If you choose not to seek the support of a solicitor, the download form N244 yourself, and once completed, submit it to the High Court, London, together with the fee of one hundred pounds. You will require a detailed witness statement attached for the court to consider

If a High Court Enforcement Officer writes to you?

Suppose you receive a letter from an HCEO? Please contact HBG Advisory on our contact details below. TIME is everything once you have the clock ticking. Ignoring this type of note will be disastrous for you and your company. PLEASE ACT FAST!  

What Powers Do High Court Enforcement Officers Have? How can an Insolvency Practitioner help?

For help Clearing HMRC Debt, please contact HBG Advisory today for support on

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