What are the differences between a High Court Enforcement Officer, a County Court Bailiff & an Enforcement Agent?
High Court Enforcement Officer
A High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) has specific authorisation from the Ministry of Justice to enforce higher value judgments known as High Court Writs.
The High Court is one of the two primary civil courts which deals with non-criminal cases and usually involves financial claims. The other civil court is the County Court. Cases involving higher value financial claims are dealt by the High Court, whilst the County Court handles smaller claims.
If the judgment obtained in the County Court is over £5000 and the claimant wishes to enforce this by way of execution against the debtor’s goods, then it must be transferred up to the High Court for enforcement. This will be undertaken by a High Court Enforcement Officer.
An important development is that smaller claims (£600 and above) in the County Court, known as County Court Judgments (CCJs), are increasingly also being transferred up to the High Court for enforcement. This is owing to:
a) The High Court Enforcement Officer greater powers.
b) Unlike County Court Bailiffs, HCEOs also work within a private company and are paid on results – based on the amount that is collected.
For these reasons many claimants consider instructing a High Court Enforcement Officer, as they are more motivated and effective than other options. Above all they believe there is a better chance of achieving a successful conclusion.
High Court Enforcement companies such as Court Enforcement Services also specialise in managing the transfer up of CCJ’s above £600 to High Court. The £600 can include court fees, interest and costs, which are added to the original claim value.
High Court Enforcement Officers work under the following regulations and codes:
a) High Court Enforcement Officer Regulations 2004,
b) The High Court Enforcement Officers Association’s Code of Practice and Professional Conduct. It is a stipulation of their authorisation by the Ministry of Justice that they belong to this professional body.
County Court Bailiffs
County Court Bailiffs enforce County Court orders. The successful claims where recovering outstanding money owed (up to £5000) is usually undertaken via a Country Court Judgment (CCJ). The County Court Bailiff’s authority to act comes from the warrant (or warrant of control).
County Court Bailiffs can enforce to obtain payment. In the rare event that no agreement of payment the Bailiff can have the listed goods removed and sold later at auction. Usually, auction prices are significantly lower than retail values, so it is likely that more goods will be needed to pay the debt this way.
The warrant authorises the Bailiff to not only to recover money owed under the Order but associated costs.
This includes orders made at tribunals that have been transferred to the county court for enforcement.
County court bailiffs are directly employed by the courts (specifically, by HM Court and Tribunals Service).
• For County Court cases a 3-stage enforcement process applies, which stipulates the fixed fee for each stage
An Enforcement Agent is certificated by a County Court Judge. This means they can enforce the following: rent arrears, council tax arrears, non-domestic rates, parking fines, and Child Maintenance Options arrears. Enforcement Agents can also under the direction of the authorised High Court Enforcement Officer, enforce any High Court Writs on their behalf.
Enforcement Agents work under the regulations stipulated in the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 and the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014.
These laws came into effect on the 6 April 2014, and heralded several changes to meet the raised requirements and standards of a modern judicial service. These changes were:
- Removing the term Bailiffs, in describing these professionals – they are now known as Certificated Enforcement Agents or Enforcement Agents.
- There is a new standardised fee and cost structure for defendants/debtors and claimants. These are available to and within the public domain. This helps provide transparency and clarity on the financial aspects of the enforcement process.
- For High Court Enforcement there is a 4-stage process. Two stages are visits – and the Enforcement Agent will charge a fixed fee for each stage of the enforcement process.
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High Court Enforcement Officers – High Court Enforcement