What is a High Court Writ and how to deal with one?

What is the High Court Writ process?If you have been served a High Court Writ you need to take advice and action, a writ is an order issued by a court that commands an individual or Limited Company to take a certain action.

A writ is a legal document issued by a court that orders someone to take a particular action, or refrain from taking a particular action. A High Court writ is an order issued by a High Court judge.

High Court writs are used in a variety of situations, but they are most commonly used to issue orders for deed poll changes, landlord evictions, and the seizure of assets.

If you have been served with a High Court writ, it is important to take immediate action.

If you ignore the writ, the court may issue an arrest warrant for you, and you may be subject to contempt of court proceedings.

The best way to deal with a High Court writ is to seek legal advice as soon as possible. A solicitor will be able to assess your individual situation and advise you on the best course of action.

The Writ of control has been issued by the High Court on behalf of an individual or business (claimant) to enforce a judgment made against a debtor (defendant), to recover the unpaid monies owed to them.

What is a High Court Writ?

A High Court Writ is an order by the High Court instructing High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs) to enforcement a judgment of an outstanding debt.

The HCEOs have the powers to access business premises and seize assets to sell and repay debts owed. The Court Officers will use The Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 which allows High Court Enforcement Officers to seize a debtor’s assets and sell them to cover the amount of the debt plus any fees and interest if payment is not made.

To issue a High Court Writ the debt needs to be for a minimum of £600 and not be subject to a consumer credit agreement for a High Court Enforcement Officer to be involved.

What is the High Court Writ process?

The process of a High Court Writ follows on from a CCJ being received, the CCJ should not have been set aside, the next step the creditor can take is to apply to the High Court for a Writ of Execution.

That can take various forms, including a Writ of Possession or Writ of Delivery, but is most commonly a Writ of Control. That empowers the High Court enforcement officers to make contact with you, visit your business premises and take control of goods if necessary to recover the debt on the creditor’s behalf. 

Before attending a business’s premises, a notice of enforcement must be served on the company’s registered address seven clear days (excluding Sundays and Bank Holidays) before the HCEOs can visit.

That gives the recipient a final opportunity to make the payment, and although additional charges will already have been applied, if payment is made before an HCEO visits in person, those charges will be minimal (£75 plus VAT).  

Once the seven days period has expired, the HCEOs can visit your premises to take control of goods under the Writ of Control. If you can’t make the payment upfront, they may try to negotiate a payment plan with you before making an inventory and pressuring you into signing a controlled goods agreement.

Should the debtor on stick to the payment plan the HCEO can then return to seize the goods listed in the controlled goods agreement to recover the debt. They must provide seven days’ notice before the sale is due to take place to give you a final opportunity to pay the debt before the goods are sold. 

How long does a High Court Writ last?

High Court Writs last 12 months from date of issue. This allows HCEOs and company in question to adhere to the repayment arrangement from date in which the company was served the first notice of enforcement.

As High Court Writs are public knowledge it will show on your credit report.

How to stop a High Court Writ

If you have been served with a high court writ, you will need to take immediate action to stop the proceedings. The first step is to file a notice of objection with the court. This will notify the court that you intend to contest the writ.

You will then need to prepare your defence and submit it to the court. The defence must be based on one of the grounds for objecting to the writ, such as lack of jurisdiction or improper service.

If the court finds in your favour, the writ will be set aside and the proceedings will be stopped. However, if the court rules against you, you will be required to comply with the writ and may be subject to further legal action.

In either case, it is advisable to seek legal advice before taking any action in response to a high court writ.

You can exercise the following options:

Apply for a Stay of Execution –

The Court may put a temporary stop on the enforcement by using a stay of execution while you apply to re-list the claim for a new hearing if you apply to have the Writ set aside by using form N244 from the HM Court Service website.

If you can show that:

  • you did not know about the judgment (for example, you changed address), and,
  • you have a reasonable prospect of success at defending the original claim,
  • If the judgment is more than 21 days ago, explain why the application is late.

Pay off your debt –

Pay the “amount outstanding” to the claimant and the enforcement power ends. Keep a copy or the cheque and proof of posting.

Guidelines say the bailiff cannot take control of goods to recover fees when the enforcement power ceases to be exercisable. The amount outstanding is the sum on the writ including interest to the date you pay.

There is one catch. If the bailiff has taken control of your goods, the amount outstanding then includes costs paid by the bailiff for taking your goods – “costs”

Arrange a payment plan –

Arrange with the High Court Enforcement Officer a payment plan, the HCEO will still need to agree the plan with the creditor. The plan needs to be maintained in order to keep the enforcement officers at bay until full payment and costs have been met.

Seek appropriate finance options –

You maybe able to arrange approbate finance to settle the debt in full, as a CCJ has been issued it will be lodged against the company’s credit file, which will show to future lenders.

Consider a CVA

A Company voluntary Arrangement is a formal agreement with you and your businesses credits, it allows you to settle your business debts over a period of 5 years.

By not dealing with the debt issues HCEOs will visit your premises, this will ultimately cost you more. This is due to officers will seize assets that may sell for more than your debt is actually worth. Plus, you’ll have to pay enforcement officer fees on top of your debt.


How long does it take to get a High Court Writ UK?

It takes normally less than a week, but can take up to 28 days to get a High Court Writ in the UK. This is dependent upon the issuing court work load. Once the writ has been issued, the enforcement process starts with the sending of the Notice of Enforcement in the Compliance Stage.

What does a High Court Writ mean?

A High Court Writ means that a formal order has been made by the High Court to allow High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs) the powers to access a debtors business premises and seize assets to sell and repay debts owed.

Can a High Court Writ be set aside?

A High Court Writ can be set aside by apply to stay the execution of the writ and set aside the judgment. That stops enforcement and cancels the all the bailiffs fees. The application is made at the High Court district registry that issued the writ.

Insolvency & Restructuring Expert at Business Insolvency Helpline | + posts

With over three decades of experience in the business and turnaround sector, Steve Jones is one of the founders of Business Insolvency Helpline. With specialist knowledge of Insolvency, Liquidations, Administration, Pre-packs, CVA, MVL, Restructuring Advice and Company investment.

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