A writ of fieri facias (fi fa) instructs a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) to seize goods and chattels from the judgment debtor to satisfy the judgment debt. The Judgments Act of 1838 extended the powers of seizure to specifically include money or banknotes, bills of exchange, promissory notes, bonds specialities or securities for money belonging to the judgment debtor. These are also expressly stated as available for seizure in the Courts Act 2003.
Money and banknotes
HCEOs are able to seize money and banknotes of the defendant. Seizure must be peaceable and therefore the HCEO is not permitted to search the defendant’s person. However, if money is found by the HCEO that he believes belongs to the defendant he may seize it accordingly. A recent example is when a large amount of cash was found in the defendant’s bedside cabinet.
At The Sheriffs Office we make a record of the serial numbers on the banknotes we seize. This can be, and has been, a tedious task; however, it enables us to have clarity that these specific notes were seized from that specific debtor and are being held for the 14 day period on behalf of this specific creditor.
Cheques are deemed as a ‘bill of exchange’ and were previously seizable under a writ of fi fa. However, with the introduction of the Cheques Act 1992, cheques crossed and endorsed account payee became non transferable and only valid between the two parties.
If the HCEO does seize a cheque, the bank will require an indemnity from the HCEO before they will process any cheques made payable to a third party. As Authorised High Court Enforcement Officers, The Sheriffs Office has such indemnity.
We will cover bonds and securities in a separate article to follow soon.