What is the best method to remove trespassers from a doorway within the curtilage of a non-residential property together with their belongings?  My client (local authority) owns the freehold of the premises.

Where trespassers, for example rough sleeper, refuse or simply fail to move from a doorway when asked politely to do so, it is possible to use the landowners’ rights under common law to physically remove them. The difficulty arises however, in the matter of the use of reasonable force. . This can be resolved by employing an HCEO to undertake the removal as an agent of the landowner: to protect all parties, including the trespasser, the process is filmed with body worm video cameras.

How much does it cost to remove trespassers under a writ of possession?

The writ of possession costs £66 and the costs for us to remove the individuals varies depending on the number of trespassers, and variables which can usually be determined by a site visit. A typical example which would be removal of five trespassers and would take a couple of hours with a couple of enforcement agents would cost a ballpark of £500. Please do get in touch to discuss specific cases. 

How do you become an Authorised High Court Enforcement Officer?

There are numerous steps that must be taken, this begins with an academic qualification in law or credit management at Level 3 or above.

The student must then complete The CICM Diploma, this involves assignments and an exam.

The Student must then undertake a two year training contract with an AHCEO (Authorised High Court Enforcement Officer) the assessment will include a log of work and students will also need to take the Level 2 qualification in Taking Control of Goods.

After this two year period, the log will need to be signed off by the overseeing HCEO and sent on to the HCEOA board for their approval.

The final step is to apply to the Senior Master of the Queen’s Bench Division. Once this has been approved the student must apply for full membership of the HCEOA (High Court Enforcement Officers Association). You can take a look at a flow chart of the entire process here.

Why does having a fixed structure make any difference?

As a land owner under Common Law, you can use reasonable force to remove people from your land, together with any structures that they may have erected on it. However, if the trespassers have occupied a building (fixed structure) which was already on the land, you must remove them by obtaining an order of the Court granting possession. If you are in any doubt, for instance if the trespassers have erected or perhaps adapted a permanent structure, it is always safer from a legal perspective go get a writ.

What is the name of the act that applies under obtaining a writ of possession?

There are several and the main rules that apply are the Civil Procedure 83 part 13. This can be found here.

Other relevant legislation includes the Section 42 of the County Courts Act 1984 which can be found here.

How long does it take to obtain a high court writ?

The process of obtaining a High Court writ takes between 7 and 28 days, it is very dependent on how busy the court is and things like public holidays will have an impact. 

David Asker

David is an authorised High Court Enforcement Officer and our Director of Corporate Governance

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