When High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs) attend the judgment debtor’s premises to enforce a writ of fi fa, he is commanded to seize goods found there belonging to the debtor.

When attending, the enforcement officer will leave a Form 55 Notice of Seizure at the premises. This is a prescribed form set out in law. A Walking Possession Agreement will accompany this form, either signed at the time of the enforcement officer’s visit or to be signed and returned by the judgment debtor or any responsible adult.

It is important to remember that a seizure of goods is effective without the need for the Walking Possession Agreement to be signed.

The Form 55 Notice of Seizure is an important document in the enforcement process. It contains 11 points. Here is a summary of what they cover:

  1. The goods at this address have been formally seized under a Writ of Execution
  2. The goods are now in the custody of the enforcement officer and may not be removed, sold or otherwise disposed of. The WPA needs signing and failing to do so may result in the goods being removed for sale at auction without further notice

  3. The total amount payable, including the original debt, costs, fees and interest (which will continue to accrue on a daily basis)
  4. Details of how to make payment

  5. Confirmation that goods will be removed for sale if payment is not received
  6. If any of the items seized belong to someone else, tell the owner about the seizure and tell the owner to write to the HCEO claiming the goods within five days of seizure

  7. If any of the items seized are subject to a hire purchase agreement, send the HCEO full written details
  8. Send full written details within five days of seizure if any of the goods are exempt from seizure because they are basic domestic needs or are the tools used exclusively by a sole trader for his work (“tools of the trade”)

  9. Tell the HCEO if any other bailiff tries to levy on these goods and tell the other bailiff that they are already seized
  10. Tell the HCEO if a bankruptcy petition or an application to liquidate a limited company may be, has been or is subsequently served on the debtor

  11. Whilst the goods at the address have been formally seized, for the avoidance of doubt, an inventory of any items specifically included in the seizure is listed here

This very important document is all too often ignored by judgment debtors, resulting in a further attendance to remove goods from the property. This second attendance will always add significant costs to the sums due under the Writ and is clearly best avoided by the judgment debtor.

We will cover some of the 11 points in greater detail in future articles, so watch this space.

David Carter

David is the former CEO of The Sheriffs Office.

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