Part 3 of the Tribunals, Courts & Enforcement Act 2007 covers the enforcement stages and associated fees as they apply to High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs).
There are four stages, as follows:
The process starts with the Compliance stage. All High Court Enforcement companies will have to send a ‘Notice of Enforcement’ to the judgment debtor.
This notice gives them 7 clear days, excluding Sundays and bank holidays, to make payment in full to prevent the attendance of an Enforcement Agent (EA) to seize goods.
The new term replacing seizure is 'take control of goods', and the writ of fieri facias is to be renamed the writ of control.
Sending the Notice of Enforcement triggers the fee for this stage which is currentky £75 plus VAT.
Enforcement Stage 1
If the debtor fails to make contact with the HCEO or requests to pay by instalments during the Compliance Stage, an EA will attend their premises to take control of goods.
This stage is known as Enforcement Stage 1 and the fixed charge at this point is £190 plus 7.5% of the sums to be recovered over £1,000, plus VAT. For example, if the outstanding debt was £3,000, the 7.5% would only be charged on £2,000.
If, when the EA attends, the debtor pays in full immediately or agrees to an acceptable instalment arrangement, then the matter ends there.
Enforcement Stage 2
If the debtor refuses either to make any payment or to enter into an acceptable instalment arrangement covered by a controlled goods agreement, then the matter moves to Enforcement Stage 2.
If a payment arrangement, with a signed controlled goods agreement, is subsequently broken, the EA will re-attend the property either under Enforcement Stage 2 or the Sales or Disposal Stage, depending upon the circumstances so far.
The fee for Enforcement Stage 2 is currently a flat £495 plus VAT.
Sale or Disposal Stage
Should enforcement get to the point where goods actually need to be removed, the enforcement progresses to the Sale or Disposal Stage.
The fee for this stage is currently £525 plus 7.5% of the sums to be recovered over £1,000, plus VAT.
However, if the HCEO anticipates exceptionally high removal costs far greater than the Sale Stage fee, for example specialist equipment and personnel to remove an aircraft, he can apply to the court to have these added to the amount payable by the debtor.
The only other fees chargeable (without application to court) are for disbursements such as locksmiths, storage and auctioneers' fees.
David is an authorised High Court Enforcement Officer and our Director of Corporate Governance