When you have provided specific items to another party, either individuals or businesses, there may come a time when you want to get those items back and the only way to do so proves to be via a court order.

Assuming the other party does not comply with the order, then you will need to have this enforced. This may be done under a writ of delivery, enforced by a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO).

Examples of where a writ of delivery may be used to recover specific items can include:

  • Goods supplied on hire purchase, for example vehicles or plant equipment, where title of the goods remains with you until they have been paid for in full
  • Documents that belong to you
  • Items you have given to the other party for them to sell on your behalf, for example an auction house or car dealer
  • Items provided on loan, where you retain title
  • Counterfeits - as the brand owner, these are deemed to belong to you

Types of writ of delivery

The writ of delivery can be worded to instruct the HCEO to either obtain possession of the goods, or obtain payment of the assessed value of the goods from the defendant.

If, however, you want the actual goods to be recovered, rather than accept an equivalent payment made, then you will need to obtain a writ of “specific delivery”.

The writ of delivery may also be combined with a writ of control (previously called a writ of fieri facias) to recover money owed, so that both are executed at the same time. We had a case of this in the recent BBC 1 show “The Sheriffs Are Coming”, when our officers enforced a combined writ of control and delivery against an auction house.

The auction house has sold some of our client’s items, but not paid her for them - this money was recovered under the writ of control. They had also retained unsold items belonging to our client which they had never returned. This was enforced under the writ of delivery, although, unfortunately, the auction house eventually admitted they had lost the items.

Enforcement costs

Common practice is that the claimant pays the costs of the HCEO attending and removing the goods specified on the order.

However, the defendant can be liable for the cost of executing the writ providing these are included in the order. If so, the HCEO may seize goods to recover these costs if payment is not made as with a standard writ of control.

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