There are a number of different types of High Court writs, the most commonly used being the writ of control (previously called a writ of fieri facias), the writ of delivery and the writ of possession.

These writs are writs of execution and are obtained after a judgment or order is received, either in the County Court or the High Court. The appropriate writ is determined by what it is you wish to recover.

Recovering money

If you have been awarded a judgment for money, for example a debt owed to you, then the appropriate writ is the writ of control. The writ authorises the High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) to seize goods belonging to the debtor to sell at auction to recover the debt. In our experience at The Sheriffs Office, the threat of seizure is normally enough to ensure payment is made by the debtor.

Recovering goods

If you wish to recover goods from the defendant, rather than a sum of money, then you need a writ of delivery. An example would be a printing press supplied on hire purchase (so title does not pass until the goods have been paid for in full) where the buyer has defaulted on payment and the actual press is to be seized and returned to the title holder.

Removing counterfeit goods from circulation

A writ of delivery can also be used to seize counterfeit goods. As the intellectual property belongs to the genuine brand owner, any counterfeits are also deemed to belong to the brand owner and can be seized and “returned” to them using a writ of delivery.

Recovering commercial property

To recover property, a commercial landlord can apply for an order for possession and have it transferred to the High Court for enforcement using a writ of possession. The HCEO will take possession of the property and secure it on behalf of the landlord.

Removing squatters from property or trespassers from land

This is also done under a writ of possession. The original order for possession can be made against “persons unknown”.

Recovering commercial property and rent arrears

The writs of possession and control can be combined and applied for together then enforced together, saving considerable time for the landlord.

Recovering residential property

You will need to apply for an order for possession, then transfer it to the High Court for enforcement using a writ of possession. If you are about to apply for the order, you can apply for the transfer at the same time under Section 42 of the County Courts Act 1984.

Recovering residential property and rent arrears

When you apply for an order for possession you can add a claim for money (i.e. rent arrears) to the order. This means you don’t need to get a separate CCJ, and the money part of the order is valid for six years, even after the property has been repossessed. An HCEO can enforce either part of the order or both.

Execution of writs

These writs are executed by HCEOs and cost a court fee of £66 each to obtain. 

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