The Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014 changed the way HCEOs work and the associated fees.

The enforcement process is set into four stages, with fees assigned to each stage. This certainly clarifies the process for all parties, especially for debtors.

High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) fees are recovered in full from the judgment debtor when enforcement is successful. If enforcement is unsuccessful, as judgment creditor you only have to pay a Compliance fee. You do not normally pay any other costs associated with the enforcement of your writ. Please see below for further details.

You can read the full details of the court and enforcement fees here.

Compliance stage

The process starts with the compliance stage. Once the HCEO receives your instruction they will apply the fee for this stage. Upon receipt of the sealed writ of control, the HCEO will send a ‘Notice of Enforcement’ to the judgment debtor.

The Notice of Enforcement must be sent or delivered to the debtor personally, giving them 7 clear days (excluding Sundays and bank holidays) to pay the sums due in full, at the place, or one of the places, where the debtor usually lives or carries on a trade or business.

If the debtor is a company or partnership the notice must be sent to the place, or one of the places, where the debtor carries on a trade or business or the registered office. Delivery can be by post, hand delivery, fax or other electronic means such as email.

If the debtor pays in full – the judgment amount, interest, court fees and the enforcement fee for the Compliance stage - after receiving the notice, the enforcement process is concluded.

Enforcement stage 1

If the debtor fails to make contact with the HCEO or requests to pay by instalments during the Compliance Stage, an enforcement agent (EA) will attend their premises to take control of goods.

This stage is known as Enforcement Stage 1 and there is a fixed charge at this point plus a percentage of the sums to be recovered.

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 (formerly known as a walking possession 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 Sale or Disposal Stage dependent upon the circumstances so far.

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 a fixed charge plus a percentage of the sums to be recovered. The costs of removal are normally included in this sale stage fee.

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.

Court fees

There is a court fee for transferring a CCJ to the High Court for enforcement, which results in the award of the writ of control. If successful, this fee is recovered in full from the judgment debtor.