Contact us on 00 44 (0) 1792 466771
Obtaining a County Court Judgment can be a lengthy process, and one often breath’s a sigh of relief when all this is over. However, unfortunately things do not always stop with the obtaining of such a Judgment.
In this ever changing climate it is often the case that debtors do not take any notice of the Court Order and Claimants can often be left wondering which way to turn next.
That’s where we come in.
As the most effective form of enforcement available in the UK, High Court Enforcement Group (HCE Group) provides an optimal proactive solution for your Debt Recovery and Eviction Enforcement needs, delivering an expert enforcement service that is both ethical and effective throughout.
HCE Group offers a comprehensive range of recovery services for businesses, organisations and individuals. Our enforcement services cover High Court Writs of FiFa, Commercial Rent Recovery, Environmental Evictions, Traveller Evictions, Process Serving, Investigations and Commercial Forfeiture of property.
With a combined experience that exceeds 250 years, our 21 Authorised High Court Enforcement Officers are leading the way forward in setting industry standards and delivering on client expectations. Our unparalleled industry experience, transparency, and professional integrity ensure that we deliver the ultimate High Court Enforcement service throughout England and Wales, and now we are looking to assist our international clients through the Connexx network.
The Connexx network will provide our international clients with a platform to approach HCE Group to assist them in pursuing debtors who are outside their jurisdiction but reside within the UK. Without this platform our international clients would often find that such debtors are simply outside of their reach.
Now the question arises, how can we assist you?
By approaching HCE Group through the Connexx network we are able to provide you with numerous different enforcement options and these are listed below:
In these circumstances our officers will simply attend the debtor’s premises and attempt to bring attention to the debt in question and obtain the monies without the need for lengthy court action.
This type of enforcement is designed to try and maintain working relationships without the hostility that subsequent court action can bring.
When instructed to attempt recovery for this type of debt we at HCE Group will write to the debtor to inform them of the debt and request payment, we will also call the debtor to attempt to calmly discuss the matter and again request payment. However, in the events that the above attempts are unsuccessful we will assign the file to our officer to make an attendance at the debtor’s premises to discuss the case with them face to face. It should be noted that when instructed under this heading our officers have no legal powers that they can rely upon and will simply request payment when in attendance. If such payment is not forthcoming we may advise alternative legal proceedings be commenced.
PROCESS SERVING & INVESTIGATION
At HCE Group, we pride ourselves on delivering a personalised service that is of the highest quality and value. In order to achieve this we offer three levels of service. Our system is dedicated to producing personalised reporting, detailing customer needs and individual circumstances in order to ensure that you receive the service features and expert assistance you need, promptly and proficiently.
ALL SERVICE LEVELS INCLUDE:
- Confirm receipt of all instructions
- Regular client updates
- Standard Service of documents
- Statement provided for Statutory Demands, Bankruptcy Petitions, Winding-up Petitions and Claim forms
- Affidavits provided for N39 Orders
HCE Group deal with all types of Process Serving and is dedicated to providing innovative solutions for all of our clients. If you could not find what you are looking for in this section, then please do not hesitate to contact us with your requirements.
We are also able to offer basic investigation services including lifestyle reports, and tracing services where defendants have vacated the last known address.
WRITS OF FIERI FACIAS (FiFa)
A Writ of FiFa is a method for enforcing a High Court Judgment or a County Court Judgment above £600.00.
A Writ of FiFa is used to enforce a money judgment. Essentially it involves a High Court Enforcement Officer attending the home or premises of the judgment debtor (the person, business or organisation who owes the money) and seizing and then selling goods belonging to the judgment debtor to the value of the judgment.
Below is a step by step guide on how to obtain a Judgment and subsequently a Writ of FiFa
Step by Step guide to obtaining a County Court Judgment and subsequently a Writ of FiFa
1) Pre Court Proceedings
Firstly as the Claimant (the one who is owed the money) you should issue a letter before action to the Defendant advising them that you intend to start proceedings after a specified time if no response to the letter before action is received or if the monies are not forthcoming within the specified period.
2) Completing the Claim Form
If no response to the letter before action is received you can start a court claim by completing a Claim Form (N1). You can obtain these claim forms from local courts and from the HM Courts and Tribunals Service www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk.
The claim form asks for details of the claimant and the defendant and how much is being claimed. It also includes a space for you to detail how the claim has arisen (also referred to as the particulars of claim). In some circumstances, as a claimant you might need extra time to complete the particulars of claim. You have the right to send the particulars of claim to the defendant separately but no later than 14 days after the claim form.
As the claimant you may be able to claim interest on your claim. If so you must include interest in the amount you are claiming on the claim form. There is a specific form of words you should use to do this. For more information about claiming interest, please see the guidance notes that come with the claim form.
In some circumstances, additional documents need to be attached to the particulars of claim. For example, if the claim is based on a written agreement (such as an agreement to purchase goods or services), a copy of the agreement should be attached to the statement of claim.
Some claims for a fixed amount of money can be started online at www.moneyclaim.gov.uk Usually, claims will be issued, printed and sent to the defendant on the day the claim is submitted. Court fees for online claims must be paid by credit or debit card.
3) Applying for the claim form to be issued
As the claimant you should send or take two copies of the claim form to the court where you want to start court action.
You should keep an extra copy for your own records. You must also take or send the court fee. The fee depends on the amount of money claimed. You can find out how much the fee is from the HM Courts and tribunals Service website at www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk
In some circumstances the fee might be waived or reduced for example:
- Because you are getting certain benefits like Income Support or income based jobseekers allowance.
- Because your annual income is low
- Because of financial hardship
You can ask the court to tell you how to apply for a reduction or waiver of the fees or you can get more information and the exemption from HM Courts and Tribunals Service website at www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk. In order to apply for the exemption of the court fee you must complete form EX160
The court will stamp the claim form and in most cases serve it on the defendant. It will give you a notice of issue, a document with the case number on it.
4) How the claim form is served
Usually the court will serve the claim form by sending it to the defendant by first class post. The defendant will be deemed to receive it on the second business day after posting, unless the claim form was issued online. As the claimant if you want to serve it yourself you can ask the court to give it back to you once it has been stamped so that you can serve it. There are a number of forms that must be sent with the claim form.
5) If the defendant is not defending the case
If the defendant accepts that they owe the money claimed, they will not be defending the case and the court will not allocate it to the small claims track to be dealt with.
If they can pay the money immediately, they should send it to you directly.
If they need time to pay, they can suggest an arrangement. For example that they pay the money in instalments or all the money in one lump sum at a certain date in the future. If the claimant accepts this offer you will have to return a form to court requesting judgement on admission. If the defendant does not keep to the arrangement the claimant can take legal action forcing them to pay.
If you do not accept the defendants offer you must give your reasons and a court official will decide what a reasonable arrangement should be. The court will send both parties an order for payment (judgement for claimant after determination)
If you are not happy with the order you should write to the court giving your reasons and you must send a copy of the letter to the defendant. A judge will then decide what is reasonable for the defendant to pay. If the defendant does not keep to the arrangement, the claimant can take enforcement action.
6) If the defendant is defending the case
If the defendant does not accept that they owe the money that is being claimed they will be defending the case. They have to respond to the claim form and the particulars of claim within 14 days of the date of service (this is the second day after posting). If the particulars of claim were served after the claim form, you must respond within 14 days of the date of service of the particulars of claim.
If the defendant does not send a defence in to the court the claimant can ask for an order to be made against them.
The defendant can send their defence to the court. However, if they need more time to prepare a defence they can send back an acknowledgement of service and then the defence within 14 days (the acknowledgement of service would be sent to the defendant initially with the claim form)
When the defence is returned to the court the court will send an allocation questionnaire to both the claimant and the defendant. This must be returned no later than the date specified on it. As the claimant when you return the allocation questionnaire you will have to pay the relevant fee (unless it is waived on financial grounds) the court will use the information given on the allocation questionnaire to decide which track the case will be allocated to.
7) If there is no response to the claim form
If the court does not receive a response to the claim form or you do not receive the monies you can request a default judgment. To do this you must complete form N255
8) Enforcement of court orders
As the claimant you will have to pay a fee to start enforcement proceedings, and there are many types of enforcement which you may wish to consider. We deal with enforcement by way of a Writ of FiFa which directs us to levy and remove assets belonging to the defendant with a view to selling the assets in order to try and recover the monies owed to you. In order to apply for enforcement by way of a Writ of FiFa you must complete form N293A and send this to the court together with the cheque for £60.00 which is the court fee incurred to transfer the Judgment to a Writ. Upon issue of a valid Writ we can then enforce the judgment on behalf of the claimant.
COMMERCIAL WRITS OF POSSESSION/TRAVELLER EVICTIONS
High Court Enforcement Group specialises in the safe removal of trespassers from illegally occupied land throughout England and Wales. We work in partnership with the police; have authority to use powers of arrest and operate within the framework of British and European law to deliver a firm but fair solution to your land disputes.
We can do this through the execution of a High Court Writ of Possession or using the rights available to a land owner under Common Law.
A WRIT OF POSSESSION EMPOWERS US TO...
... enter a person’s home or land and remove illegal occupiers using reasonable force if necessary. A Writ of Possession also grants us the authority to request Police support - enabling us to provide you with a comprehensive, highly effective enforcement service.
The principle at common law is that a person entitled to the immediate possession of land may enter and, in a civil action, may justify the use of so much force as is necessary to affect entry and to expel an intruder, provided the force used is reasonable.
COMPULSORY PURCHASE ORDERS (CPO’s)
We are also authorised to enforce CPO’s supported by the police where necessary
In order to enforce via a Writ of Possession we have a step by step guide on how to obtain this which can be accessed by reading here.
Step by step guide to obtaining a Court Order for possession via a Section 21 Notice and subsequently a Writ of Possession
1) What type of tenancy is covered by a Section 21 Notice
Firstly check the tenancy that is on the property. A section 21 Notice can only be used to obtain a possession of a property that is covered by an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (hereafter referred to as an AST) or where a periodic tenancy exists following the AST coming to an end
2) If it is established that the property is covered by an AST
If it is established that the property is covered by an AST you, as the Landlord can complete a Section 21 Notice in order to obtain possession of the property. A Section 21 Notice is what is known as a ‘No Fault Ground’ and so long as the correct procedure is followed and the section 21 Notice has been completed correctly the court must grant an Order for Possession. A section 21 notice can be issued at any time during the fixed tenancy or during the periodic tenancy.
3) Section 21 notices in general
The Section 21 Notice can be difficult to get right and it must contain certain information that is covered by legislation.
Remember landlords need to give a minimum of 2 months notice and this should allow 3 days for the tenant to receive the notice by post if the Section 21 Notice is posted.
When it comes to Notices month means Calendar Month in tenancy agreement (Law of Property Act 1925 s61 (a) Tenancy agreements run from a day in one month to the day (date) before in another month. For example, a six month tenancy signed on the 5th March (5th day of March) will end on the 4th day of September, AFTER which day a landlord will seek possession.
4) Section 21 notices served during the fixed term of the AST
Section 21 of the Housing At 1988 as amended by the Housing Act 1996 requires that the landlord provides tenants of an AST with a minimum of two months notice in writing, stating that possession of the property is sought. The two months starts when the tenant received the notice not when the notice was written/posted.
A Section 21 notice must be served before a possession order will be issued by a Court. Possession under this section of the Housing Act 1988 cannot take place during the fixed term of the tenancy, but the notice can be served at any time during the fixed term provided the tenant is given a minimum of two months notice. The tenant is not required to give up possession of a property until a minimum of two months after the Section 21 notice to quit was served. This includes Section 21 notices served up until the last day of the fixed term. So for example if you served a section 21 notice on the last day of the tenancy the tenant does not have to vacate the property until 2 months later. If however, you served the Section 21 notice 3 months before the end of the tenancy the order for possession could be granted the day after the AST ends.
A notice can be issued more than two months before the end of a tenancy but it should not be dated to expire on or before the last day of the tenancy. For example, if a Section 21 notice was issued four months before the tenancy was due to expire, the notice would have to be dated after the last day of the fixed term.
If a section 21 notice is issued during the initial fixed term of a tenancy to regain possession at the end of the fixed term tenancy then should the landlord decide to grant another fixed term, a new section 21 notice would be required to regain possession.
5) Section 21 notices served during a periodic tenancy
Once the fixed term of the tenancy ends, unless a new fixed term is agreed upon a tenancy automatically becomes what is called a statutory periodic tenancy which rolls from week to week or month to month depending on how often rent is paid.
The procedure for serving notice under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 is slightly different in the case of statutory periodic tenancies.
Section 21(4)(a) of the Housing Act 1988 applies to AST’s that have become periodic.
A section 21 notice complying with the above section should only be given to a tenant whose tenancy has become a periodic tenancy as a result of the fixed term ending. In these cases a minimum of 2 months notice is required and the day on which the notice expires must be the last day of a period of the tenancy.
The period of a tenancy depends on how often the rent is paid. If rent is paid monthly the period of the tenancy is one month. If the rent is paid weekly the period of the tenancy is one week and so forth. The periodic tenancy begins immediately after the fixed term expires, so if the fixed term expires on the 10th then the period of the tenancy begins on the 11th. So provided the rent was paid on the last day of the tenancy (being the 10th in this example) the section 21 notice would have to expire on the 10th of a month and be served a minimum of 2 months before the 10th of that month.
If the tenant does not leave by the expiry date on the notice the landlord will need to apply to the court for a possession order. Provided the correct procedure has been followed by the landlord issuing the Section 21 notice the court will have no choice but to grant the possession order.
After the court has issued the tenant with the notice to leave, if they have still not left within the required period, then a landlord can ask county court bailiffs to evict the tenant.
6) How should you serve a section 21 notice?
A section 21 notice may be served by post or in person. The courts will recognise the day of postal service as the day on which the letter would normally have arrived. Sending the Section 21 notice by mail is an acceptable method. A landlord should allow 3 working days for delivery and use recorded delivery or proof of postage. This means that the Post Office will give a receipt of postage and the address to which it is sent. Recorded delivery can cause problems if the tenant refuses to sign and the section 21 notice is returned.
Therefore the ideal method of service is by hand directly to your tenant alternatively the notice can be served at the property through the letter box. In both cases the landlord should have a witness who completes a statement confirming this. The burden of proof that the Section 21 Notice was served always falls upon the landlord and direct service by the landlord is always preferable.
7) How to get the Court order for possession
Following the serving and expiry of the section 21 notice you must attend the Court to complete a signed Affidavit confirming this has been served and outlining the case. (should you instruct HCE Group to serve the notice we will provide the signed affidavit for you to present to the court). Together with this you must complete a N244 Application.
A copy of a completed N244 form can be found by clicking here. (Appendix A)
8) What happens if the tenant does not vacate the property by the time specified.
If the tenant does not vacate the property by the time specified in the Order for Possession the landlord may commence enforcement proceedings to enforce the Court Order. The landlord can complete form N293A to apply for a writ of possession which can then be sent to a High Court Enforcement Officer for enforcement. A fee of £60 is payable to the courts upon application of the Writ of Possession and should be sent to the court together with the N293A.
Following receipt of the writ of possession our officers can attend the property to forcibly remove the tenant from the property.
COMMERCIAL RENT ARREARS RECOVERY (CRAR)
We understand the critical issue of maintaining cash flow through regular rental payments - but when they fail, what are your options? Commercial landlords have a powerful summary remedy available which can be used without the need for court hearings or consultation with solicitors or legal advisors. Provided your tenant knows how much to pay in rent and when the payment is due, then once the rent is actually overdue, you can immediately issue a Distress Warrant to HCE Group . Our CRAR Service is fast and responsive ensuring your interests are fully secured. We will attend within 24 hours and often, depending on the timing of instruction, on the same day.
Our certificated bailiffs are fully trained in the complexities of this common-law remedy and always act in the landlord’s interests but strive to maintain the landlord-tenant relationship.
For more information, visit our website www.hcegroup.co.uk