If you take out a writ of control against someone who owes you money, there are currently extra hurdles to get over. Besides backlogs in the court system, in some cases, bailiffs won’t be able to enter the debtor’s property.
However, it’s still possible to effectively enforce a writ. You just have to be careful that you get everything right.
In What Order Are Writs Dealt With?
There’s an old case law principle that writs are dealt with in the order they’re lodged with the High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO). However, new regulations recently came into force — the Taking Control of Goods Regulations — leaving a question mark over whether this would continue to be the case.
A recent court of appeal ruling, in the case of Court Enforcement Services Ltd -v- Marston Legal Services Limited (formerly Burlington Credit Limited, has established that this principle still stands under the new regulations.
Why Does the Order Matter?
Whether the person or company that owes you money can’t pay or won’t pay, there’s a good chance that you’re not their only creditor. In fact, they may be in serious trouble and have multiple creditors wanting their money.
The trouble is that, in all probability, the assets that can be seized from the debtor won’t cover all these debts. This means that, while the first creditor to enforce their writ may get everything they’re entitled to, there may well be nothing left for those coming later.
Since this order will depend on the order in which the writs are lodged with the HCEO, the sooner you do so the better.
Can Writs Currently Be Enforced?
Due to safety considerations during the pandemic, there are some restrictions on enforcement visits. However, there’s certainly not a blanket ban on them.
- Commercial debt enforcements — there are currently no restrictions on these visits, provided that government guidelines on coronavirus safety are followed.
- Residential debt enforcement — visits to a residential property by HCEOs are permitted, but they are not currently allowed to go inside the property.
So, if you’re owed money and need to take it to an HCEO for enforcement, then by all means do so. However, it’s vital to ensure you lodge your writ of control with the High Court as early as possible, to give you the best chance of getting your money back.
If you’re unsure of how to go about this, or need help with any debt you’re owed, you’re very welcome to give me a call to discuss your situation.