High Court enforcement officer
High Court Enforcement Officers are authorised by the Lord Chancellor to execute High Court writs. They can seize and sell goods to cover the amount of a debt owed. They can also enforce and supervise the possession of property and the return of goods. They replaced Sheriff's Officers in April 2004. Legislation relating the High Court Enforcement Officers includes the Sheriffs Act 1887 and the Courts Act 2003.
Unlike a county court bailiff, who is a civil servant, an HCEO is an Agent of the High Court appointed by the Lord Chancellor. In order to appoint an HCEO, the county court judgment is transferred to the High Court and a writ of fieri facias is issued (this will be called a writ of control once the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 Part 3 comes fully into force). The debt must be over £600 and it cannot be one where judgment has been obtained for a debt owed under the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
HCEOs are authorised to operate throughout England and Wales.
Once the writ is awarded, the HCEO will attend the judgment debtor's premises to seize goods to sell at auction to recover the amount owed. The judgment debtor can avoid the removal and sale of assets by either paying in full or agreeing a repayment plan. The assets will remain seized and the property of the court, normally left in situ under a Walking Possession Agreement, until the debt is fully cleared. Any proposed repayment schedule will have to be agreed by the claimant. Should the judgment debtor subsequently default on a payment, the claimant can instruct the HCEO to attend to remove and sell the seized assets.
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