It’s not just ash clouds that can ground an aeroplane!

High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs) are entitled to seize aircraft using a writ of Fi Fa (fieri facias)* to enforce a judgment. And The Sheriffs Office did just that, last week.

Our client had a judgment against a private jet charter company operating from Southend Airport and instructed The Sheriffs Office to enforce it via a writ of Fi Fa*. Our officer attended and seized one of the aircraft belonging to the debtor in the hangar.

When seizing an aircraft, the officer will do the following:

  • Fix a copy of the writ on the inside of the aircraft (in the cockpit) and on the outside, to let the pilot and anyone entering the plane know that it has been seized
  • Tell airport security that the plane has been seized
  • Tell the airport authorities not to accept any flight plans for that aircraft
  • Immobilise the plane with chocks

The officer will also need to secure all the documentation for the plane, including full service and maintenance records. These service records are normally kept where the plane is serviced; without them, the plane will merely sell at scrap value. A copy of the insurance certificate, registration details and airworthiness certificate should all be kept in the cockpit.

In the case just enforced by our officer, the debtor paid in full the same day by bank draft, so once funds were received, the private jet was released from seizure. 

* Note: in April 2014, the writ of fieri facias was replaced by the writ of control.

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