There is often confusion about which is the best method of enforcement for the claimant: the County Court Bailiff or the High Court Enforcement Officer. This article with give you a guide to how both work, summarising the pros and cons of each.

High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEO) are authorised by the Lord Chancellor and work privately or in private companies. They enforce judgments of £600 and above.

In April 2004, HCEOs (formerly Sheriffs Officers) had their previous geographical boundaries lifted so that they can enforce anywhere within England and Wales.

HCEOs work under the authority of a writ of control (formerly known as a writ of fieri facias). This can be issued when a county court judgment (CCJ), order or tribunal award is transferred to the High Court for enforcement via Form N293A and a court fee of £66. This fee is recoverable from the defendant. The transfer process normally takes between 5 and 21 days.

HCEOs earn their fees from the defendant, but only when they collect. If the enforcement agent is unable to collect, basically, he doesn’t get paid. Their collection rates are significantly higher than that of the County Court Bailiffs who receive a salary and no financial incentive to collect.

If successful, the HCEO will collect your judgment debt, your court costs, your £66 transfer up fee, interest at 8% and their fees, costs and charges from the defendant.

If unsuccessful, the HCEO will give a full written report of the outcome. An industry regulated compliance fee of £75 plus VAT is payable by the claimant / claimant's agent.

County Court Bailiffs are salaried civil servants employed directly by the court service. They can enforce on judgments up to £5,000. They work under the authority of a warrant of execution which can be requested from the County Court for a fee of £110.

County Court Bailiffs will collect your judgment debt, your court costs, your warrant cost and interest (if prescribed) from the defendant.
If unsuccessful, the County Court Bailiff will return the warrant with a written report the outcome detailing why enforcement has been unsuccessful.

In summary:

HCEO pros

  • Far higher collection rates due to financial incentives
  • Only £66 court fee to start enforcement (£110 for CCB)
  • In certain circumstnaces, may be permitted to force entry into commercial premises

HCEO cons

  • Currently unable to enforce on CCJs under £600
  • £75 + VAT compliance fee if enforcement is unsuccessful
  • Possible time delay in transferring up the CCJ to the High Court to obtain the writ of control

CCB pros

  • Can enforce on CCJs under £600
  • A warrant of execution can be obtained more quickly
  • No compliance fee if unsuccessful.

CCB cons

  • Poor collection rates as no financial incentive
  • Court fee for the warrant of execution is £110 (£66 for HCEO)

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