It has been a long time in the making, but the time is almost upon us! The Taking Control of Goods Regulations, part of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, come into effect on 6th April 2014.

The new regulations bring conformity and clarity to the various forms of enforcement, be it High Court or county court judgments, council tax, parking fines or commercial rent arrears. The new fee structure has also been reformed and brought up-to-date, bringing clarity and transparency for creditors and debtors alike.

Below is a summary of the key points within the regulations. For a fuller picture, I suggest you download our free eBook “Guide to Judgment Enforcement” which has just been fully revised.

Key points

  • The enforcement process is set out in four stages, each with defined fees
  • The first stage, the compliance stage, requires that HCEOs (High Court Enforcement Officers) must serve a Notice of Enforcement, giving the debtor seven clear days to pay in full
  • Tools of the trade are only exempt to a maximum value of £1,350
  • Vehicles must be immobilised for two hours before they can be removed
  • The debtor must be given seven days’ notice of a sale (previously it was four days)
  • The abortive fee, payable by the creditor when enforcement is unsuccessful, is renamed the Compliance fee and is triggered each time a Notice of Enforcement is served
  • Distress for rent is replaced by CRAR (Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery) for commercial landlords whose tenants are in arrears. CRAR only applies to rent (it cannot be used for other charges such as service charges or insurance) and there must be a written lease in place

New terminology

The new regulations have changed many of the terms used, in particular:

Outgoing termNew term
Writ of fieri facias (fi fa) Writ of control
Seize Take control of
Seized goods Controlled goods
Walking possession agreement Controlled goods agreement
Abortive fee Compliance fee
Bailiff Enforcement agent

Relevant legislation

You can read the full legislation, regulations and statutory instruments on the Legislation website:

Transitional arrangements

The transitional arrangements for writs of fieri facias which are part way through enforcement on 6th April have now been clarified.

When a writ of fieri facias has been issued before 6th April 2014 and the HCEO has made at least one visit to attend to seize goods and no goods have been seized and no walking possession agreement has been entered into, but the debtor has

  • Entered into an agreement to pay the amount for which the writ was issued; and
  • Been making payments in accordance with the agreement through the duration of the writ.

Then the action taken is to be regarded as constituting the Compliance stage and Enforcement stage 1.

However the fees for the Compliance stage and Enforcement stage 1 will not apply and the HCEO can recover:

  • The mileage fee (fee 2 in Part A of Schedule 3 to the High Court Enforcement Officers Regulations 2004(a)) in relation to the journey;
  • The percentage fee (fee 1 in Part A of Schedule 3 to the High Court Enforcement Officers Regulations 2004) in relation to any amounts paid under the agreement; and
  • If the agreement provided for the payment of such a fee, a miscellaneous fee (fee 12 in Part C of Schedule 3 to the High Court Enforcement Officers Regulations 2004).

If the HCEO has already made an attendance and seized goods then the enforcement will continue under the existing regime.

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