In part two of our A to Z of enforcement, we cover letters G through to L, looking at gaining entry by force, transfer to the High Court, third party claims, lodgment of writs to have top priority, tracing defendants and setting aside judgments.
G - Gaining entry by force
Commercial premises: the HCEO can force entry to commercial premises to levy on a first visit or any subsequent visit to remove goods providing the property is not physically attached to, and form any part of, a residential dwelling.
Residential premises: the HCEO may climb a perimeter wall or fence. They can enter the premises through an unlocked door or open window. Once inside, they may break down inner doors to seek the defendant’s goods. The HCEO may not be forcibly ejected, but if they are, they can now force re-entry. They may force entry to a garage, out house, stables or barn providing it is not physically attached to, and form any part of, the residence.
H - High court – transfer of judgment to
When a County Court Judgment (CCJ) is issued for £600 and above (including court costs), the creditor can transfer it up to the High Court for enforcement by a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO). The transfer form is the N293A and there is a court fee of £66, which can be added to the debt. Once completed, a writ of Fieri Facias, or Fi Fa for short, is issued, which the HCEO will use to enforce.
I - Interpleader – claims by third parties
This can occur if, after the creditor obtained a judgment and the appropriate writ, a third party then claims ownership of the money or goods that have been or will be seized. If the creditor disputes the third party’s claim, an interpleader summons will be issued for all the parties to attend the High Court so that rightful ownership can be determined by a Master.
J - Judgments – setting aside
When the debtor applies to set aside judgment (sometimes used as a delaying tactic), the court will fix a date for the hearing, which both parties will attend. The debtor will have to explain why they want the judgment set aside. If the court does set aside judgment, then the debtor is allowed to put forward their defence, having provided the creditor with documents they intend to use and witnesses to support their defence. If they are successful, enforcement cannot proceed. If their application is denied, the creditor may proceed with enforcement. Enforcement can continue whilst the application is awaiting a hearing.
K - Know your debtor – tracing individuals and companies
It’s important to have all the correct details about the debtor so that the judgment can be enforced. This may include actually locating the defendant, either an individual, a sole trader or a company director. Good information to gather includes: name, last known address, telephone number, vehicle registration, date of birth. Date of birth is the most useful, as 90% of the records hold a precise date of birth.
L - Lodgment of writs to ensure priority
It is very possible that more than one creditor may be suing a debtor at the same time. When Writs of Fieri Facias (Fi Fa) are issued, the High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) will lodge it with NICE Sheriffs (National Information Centre for Enforcement run by The Registry Trust). Writs are given priority depending on when they are lodged with NICE Sheriffs and NOT when the judgment or writ was issued. If a writ is renewed or extended, priority will remain as per the original logging with NICE Sheriffs, as long as it is renewed or extended before it expires.