How do I get a judgment?
You can either appoint a solicitor to manage your claim, or you can use the Government's serivce Money Claim Online. Money Claim Online can be used for money claims up to £100,000. Please view the 'Obtain judgment' page for more information.
How do I enforce a judgment?
As long as your judgment is for £600 or above, you can transfer it to the High Court for enforcement by The Sheriffs Office. Please visit our 'Judgment enforcement' page for more information.
I am owed money but haven’t got judgment yet, what do I do?
Why should I use High Court Enforcement Officers instead of County Court Bailiffs?
Simple. Our success rate is far, far higher. County Court Bailiffs are salaried civil servants whereas we are paid on results. It is also cheaper to obtain a writ of control (known as a writ of fieri facias or fi fa prior to 6th April 2014) than the warrant of execution needed by the County Court Bailiffs. Furthermore County Court Bailiffs cannot enforce Judgments or Orders over £5,000. Read more about this in our article.
I already have a judgment or order over £600 (including costs), what should I do?
What additional information on the defendant do you need from me?
The more information you can provide the better the chances of successful enforcement. If you can, provide details of the following:- what the debt relates to, any additional addresses, phone numbers, places of work, vehicle details, asset details and any other information that may assist enforcement. Read more about this in our article.
My judgment or order is fairly old, can I still use the High Court for enforcement?
We can enforce Judgments or Orders up to 6 years of age. Read more about this in our article.
Does my County Court Judgment (CCJ) or Order become a High Court Judgment?
No, it remains a County Court Judgment and is only passed to the High Court for the purposes of enforcement. Any representations by either party would still be made to the issuing county court.
How much does it cost to get a writ?
Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) charges £71.00 for a writ of possession or writ of control (known as a writ of fieri facias or fi fa prior to 6th April 2014)
How long does it take to ‘transfer up’ my judgment or order to the High Court for enforcement?
This depends on the speediness of the issuing County Court. It is normally 5 to 28 days. You can speed up the process by personally attending the issuing Court and having part 2 of the Form N293A sealed. Once we have received the sealed Form N293A from the court we will arrange for the Writ to be sealed by the High Court (or district registry) within 24 hours. Read more about this in our article.
Is it likely that goods will be removed from the defendant?
No. Usually the attendance of an Enforcement Agent and the threat of removal will result in payment. Less than 1% of all cases end in removal.
Once you have collected the monies due, how long will it be before I receive them?
We legally have to hold the funds for 14 days. Payment will be issued after this period. Read more about this in our article.
If the goods removed are sold and they do not cover the full balance, what happens next?
Our Enforcement Agents would advise if there may be further assets. If there are, then they would return to remove these also. If not, we would request your further information on any further assets you may be aware of.
Can you remove goods owned by other people?
No. However, if they are part of the seizure and ownership has been claimed but not been proved then we would request that you either admit or deny the claim. Read more about this in our article.
If goods are removed where will they be sold?
In the unlikely event that goods are removed they will be sold by public auction. This may be a physical auction or an online auction. Very occasionally we can sell goods by private treaty but would need the authority of either the Court or the defendant.
If you remove goods and sell them what happens to any surplus funds?
After payment of the judgment, interest, costs, fees and charges have been settled, any surplus would be repaid to the defendant. Read more about this in our article.
If the defendant has moved from the address I gave you what should I do?
You can instruct our tracing agents to arrange an in-depth trace on the defendant before enforcement commences.
If the defendant makes an application to set judgment aside can you continue enforcement?
Yes, but we would usually request your permission first. If judgment is set aside, then enforcement action will cease.
What if I do a deal with the defendant outside the enforcement process, who pays your fees?
You will be liable for our full fees should this be the case. We would ask that once the enforcement process has started you allow us to continue until such time as the debt is repaid in full.
Where are you based and what areas do you cover?
We have offices in Croydon, London, Liverpool, Colwyn Bay and Swansea. We provide a nationwide enforcement service, covering all of England and Wales.
How quickly will an enforcement agent attend the address as directed?
Once the 7 clear days notice period has passed, we aim to have an enforcement agent in attendance as soon as possible, usually within a few days.
What is CRAR?
CRAR - Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery - replaced the Common Law remedy of distress or distraint on 6th April 2014.
There will have to be a written lease in place to use CRAR. It must be possible to calculate the rent due with certainty and it must be for a minimum amount.
Unlike under distraint, only Certificated Enforcement Agents (previously known as certificated bailiffs) are permitted to take control of goods, not the landlord.
What is the BBC One programme "The Sheriffs Are Coming" about?
The programme follows a team of enforcement agents from The Sheriffs Office as they enforce judgments and employment tribunal awards.
Do I need to send a Letter Before Action?
Yes, when you send the Letter Before Action, you are advising your debtor that your next step is to seek legal redress through the courts, without further notice, unless the matter is satisfactorily resolved within the next 14 days.
How much does it cost to get a judgment?
The court fees are set according to the value of the claim. You can check the current fee scales on Form EX50.
How do I use Money Claim Online?
You will need to register on the Government Gateway, then you can start your claim. It is quite straightforward, but if you need further help, perhaps because your case is high value and/or complex, you might want to instruct a solicitor. You can find solicitors local to you on the Law Society website.
Who are HMCTS?
HMCTS stands for Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service. Payments for court fees are made to HMCTS.
What happens if the defendant disputes my claim?
If the claim is disputed, the case will be heard by a judge who will make a ruling on whether the claim is dismissed or judgment is awarded. If the defendant does not submit a defence at all, you will be awarded "judgment by default".
Are you a Government agency or a private business?
We are a private limited company authorised by the Ministry of Justice.
Are you a member of any industry associations?
Yes, we are members of the High Court Enforcement Officers Association (HCEOA). One of our authorised officers, David Asker, is a board director of the HCEOA.
Do you collect Council Tax arrears or parking fines?
No, we specialise in the enforcement of judgments for private individuals, businesses of all sizes, landlords, as well as solicitors acting on behalf of those clients.
Do you provide process serving?
Yes we do. Please contact us on 0333 001 5100 for further details.
Can you enforce judgments in Scotland?
No, Scotland has a different system. However, if the defendant is based in England or Wales, we can enforce a Scottish judgment.
Can you enforce judgments awarded in other countries?
If the defendant is based in England or Wales or has assets located here, then the overseas judgment can be enforced by us. You can read more here.
How can I apply to work for you?
Please use our careers contact form.
Who do I contact with a media enquiry?
Do you work with the Police?
Yes, where we consider there is a risk of there being a breach of the peace, we will ask for Police assistance. In the case of evictions and repossessions, these are normally planned with the Police and executed with their attendance.
We have a large volume of unpaid judgments - can you help?
Yes, we are set up to support organisations with large numbers of judgments. Please contact us on 0333 001 5100 to find out more.
How do I remove squatters from residential premises?
Squatting in residential premises is now a criminal act. You should call the Police who will attend to arrest and remove them.
Do you carry out risk assessments?
Yes, this enables us to plan the size of the team and Police support required, any specialists and equipment that may be needed, as well as identify potential risks so we can take preemptive action, for example to prevent access by squatters to the roof.
How do I remove squatters from commercial premises?
They will need to be removed under a writ of possession.
How do I remove squatters from land?
You can either use Common Law to remove them or obtain a writ of possession against "persons unknown". Government advice to local authorities is that they should take court action. Read more.
Can you remove protesters from a site?
Yes we can. Depending on what type of site it is, we will either evict from land under Common Law or a High Court writ of possession. Evictions from commercial premises must be conducted under a writ of possession.
Are any other companies taking part in the programme?
No, all the agents in 'The Sheriffs Are Coming' on BBC One are from The Sheriffs Office.
Who are the officers taking part in the programme?
Several of our officers appear in the series - you can find out more in our Meet The Team section.
Why did you decide to take part?
In many cases High Court Enforcement is the most successful method of enforcing a judgment to obtain payment. But as not many members of the public were aware of High Court Enforcement, we agreed to take part in the programme to let people owed money know about this option and how it works.
Does my award have to be for a minimal value?
No, all employment tribunal awards and ACAS settlements can be enforced by The Sheriffs Office regardless of their value.
How much does it cost to get an employment tribunal award?
There are currently no fees charged by the Employment Tribunal to make a claim. If you choose to use a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) to enforce it, there is a court fee of £71 for the writ. There is no compliance fee payable for the enforcement of employment tribunal awards.
Can I get reduced court fees?
Some claimants may be eligible for reduced fees if they meet the income criteria, which will be based on a combination of income and capital savings.
How much does it cost to enforce my award?
There is a £71 court fee, payable to HMCTS. If enforcement is successful, this is recovered from the defendant, along with the original award, interest and enforcement costs.
If enforcement is not successful, there is normally nothing further to pay. Note: this only applies to the enforcement of employment tribunal awards and ACAS settlements. There is a compliance fee of £75 plus VAT for all other types of judgment enforcement.
How do I instruct you to enforce my award?
You can instruct us online to enforce either employment tribunal awards or ACAS settlements.
How does it work?
You can find out more about enforcing your employment tribunal award or ACAS settlement by The Sheriffs Office in our employment tribunal award page.
How do I recover rent arrears from residential tenants?
You will need to obtain a County Court Judgment against them, which can then be enforced by The Sheriffs Office.
How do I recover rent arrears from commercial tenants who have a licence?
You will need to obtain a County Court Judgment for the arrears, which The Sheriffs Office can then enforce if payment is not made.
What can I do if my tenant has left owing rent?
If the tenant is no longer occupying the premises, you will need to obtain a County Court Judgment for the arrears and instruct The Sheriffs Office to enforce it if payment is not made. They will be able to take control of assets belonging to the defendant at their new premises. You will need a CCJ for both commercial and residential tenants who have left the premises.
How do evictions work?
This video provides an introduction to evicting trespassers from your property:
How do I remove residential tenants from my property?
You will need to apply for an order for possession in the County Court local to the property. When you apply for the order, you can ask for permission to have it enforced by High Court Enforcement Officers under Section 42 of the County Courts Act 1984.
How do I remove commercial tenants from my property?
What is forfeiture of lease?
Forfeiture of lease is a Common Law remedy available to commercial landlords when the rent is overdue by a specified period, normally 21 days.
You can forfeit the lease simply by entering the property and changing the locks. Normally the landlord would instruct a certificated bailiff to do this on his behalf.
Are you Certificated Bailiffs?
The term Certificated Bailiff has been replaced with Certificated Enforcement Agent. This is a person who has been assessed by a judge to evaluate his ability to act as an enforcement agent. The certificate is valid for two years and is awarded to individuals.
So while The Sheriffs Office as an organisation is not certificated, our enforcement agents are Certificated Enforcement Agents, so you can instruct us to act under Common Law on your behalf.
Can I repossess my property and recover rent arrears at the same time?
Yes you can if you are a residential landlord. If you are going via the Court (residential landlords must obtain a court order) to obtain an order for possession and a County Court Judgment for the arrears, you can apply for a combined writ of possession and control to instruct The Sheriffs Office to execute both at the same time.
If you are a commercial landlord, CRAR and forfeiture cannot be conducted simultaneously and will need to cover different rent periods. CRAR cannot be undertaken if the lease has been terminated.
What is your policy regarding vulnerable debtors?
Our policy is to ensure that the operations of the business do not have any negative impact upon vulnerable consumers, whose ability or circumstances require us to take
extra precautions in the way that we sell and provide our services in order to ensure that they are not disadvantaged in any way. Please read our full policy on vulnerable debtors.
What will it cost me if the debt is unenforceable?
There is an industry regulated (High Court Enforcement Officers Association) compliance fee of £75 plus VAT which is triggered by each Notice of Enforcement that is sent.
What is the compliance fee?
What is the abortive fee?
At which point do you collect your lawful fees?
Does a vehicle have to be immobilised before you can remove it?
Yes, the vehicle will be immobilised to secure it and the enforcement agent will serve a notice of immobilisation. If after two hours, the debtor has not paid either in full or entered into a payment arrangement, then the enforcement agent may remove the vehicle for sale.
What is the notice of enforcement?
What is distraint for rent?
Distraint for rent - also known as distress - is no longer available and was replaced by CRAR - Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery - on 6th April 2014.
How much notice is given for when the goods are to be sold?
Once goods have been removed for sale, the judgment debtor will be given seven clear days' notice of sale.
Can you seize my commercial tenant's assets at other locations to pay rent arrears?
If you instruct us to enforce under a County Court Judgment, we can enforce at the debtor's place of business. If they have more than one location, we will serve notice of enforcement at the appropriate premises.
Under CRAR we may only seize assets on the rented premises.
How long does a writ last?
The writ lasts for 12 months from the date of the Notice of Enforcement is served. If a payment arrangement is entered into by the debtor and then they break It, the writ will be valid for a further 12 months from that point. It can be renewed if required.
How do I recover rent arrears from commercial tenants who have a lease?
You can use CRAR - Commercial Rent Arrears recovery. You do not require a court judgment but you may only recover rent. The enforcement must be conducted by a certificated enforcement agent, for example The Sheriffs Office.
Or you can obtain a County Court Judgment and we can enforce it. The advantage is that the judgment can include other outstanding charges as well as rent.
With Coronavirus, are you still open?
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 23rd March 2020, visits by our enforcement agents are temporarily suspended.
This restriction will be removed on 23rd August and enforcement visits will recommence on 24th August 2020.
We are experiencing continued volumes of new instructions from clients and continue to make the applications to the courts for writs of control. On receipt of writs back from court, we are issuing Notices of Enforcement in accordance with the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013.
We will use a combination of telephone, email and SMS communications to encourage payment remotely, using our website and debtor app.
3 July 2020
Coronavirus - what are you doing about cases already in progress?
Where we have cases that were visited at either first or second enforcement stage, we will endeavuour to contact debtors to encourage them to get in touch with our office to make payment arrangements. We will continue to monitor all the cases which are currently in a payment arrangement and make remittances to our clients.
24th March 2020
How are you supporting vulnerable debtors during the Coronavirus crisis?
We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic will result in higher rates of vulnerability and our Level 3 qualified welfare team are fully prepared to respond accordingly, so we can identify where help is required and signpost people to the right places.
24th March 2020
Can I use you to evict residential tenants during the Coronavirus crisis?
The Government introduced emergency legislation to prevent landlords from starting eviction proceedings against tenants for a period of at least three months, since extended to 23rd August 2020, to protect renters in both social and private accommodation in these challenging times. It will allow those with financial difficulties the time to secure additional financial support introduced by the Government.
We will be recommencing the enforcement of writs of possession from 24th August.
3 July 2020
Can I still evict commercial tenants during the Coronavirus crisis?
The Government has ordered a moratorium on commercial landlord sanctions until the end of September, to prevent landlords from forfeiting the leases of tenants who miss rent payments because of coronavirus during this period.
The rent will still be due, this is only a delay on forfeiture – once the moratorium is lifted, the landlord will be able to exercise forfeiture or recover rent arrears. We recommend that landlords discuss voluntary arrangements about rent payments with tenants.
19 June 2020
Can I still remove trespassers from my land during the Coronavirus crisis?
To date, there are no restrictions on evictions of trespassers or protesters under a writ of possession against persons unknown.
We will consider each case based on the urgency of the removal and the level of public interest involved, the likely availability of Police support and the health and safety of the enforcement agents, Police, occupants and general public.
24th March 2020
Where can I get debt advice during the coronavirus crisis?
There are several charities you can ask for support. A list of the main ones is provided here.
1st April 2020
How do I set up a payment arrangement during the Coronavirus crisis?
If you are not yet making any payments and want to agree an arrangement, please email us at email@example.com with your proposal, which we will then send to the judgment creditor.
Please note that we are very busy with a high volume of enquiries at present and it may take some time to respond to your request. In the meantime, you can start making payments on account using the methods provided here.
1st April 2020
What should I do during the coronavirus crisis if I already have a payment arrangement?
If you are already in a payment arrangement, or are waiting for confirmation of a payment arrangement, you should continue to make your payments as agreed with us and your creditor.
Payment can be made through the methods provided here.
1st April 2020
What do I do when I get a notice of enforcement during the Coronavirus crisis?
The enforcement process starts with the sending of a notice of enforcement, which gives the judgment debtor seven days in which to pay in full, before enforcement proceeds. Payment at this stage prevents the incurrence of further enforcement fees beyond the compliance stage fee (currently £75 plus VAT).
Payment can be made through the methods provided here.
As you may be aware, enforcement agent visits will recommence on 24th August 2020. Please note that, once the notice of enforcement has expired, no further notice of a visit will be given.
It is in your interest to make payment in full, where possible. If you are unable to do this, we recommend that you make a part payment on account prior to an enforcement visit to reduce both the sum owing and the additional enforcement fees that will be incurred at that stage.
3rd July 2020