If your company is issued with a High Court Writ, you must take action. This is a serious notice of enforcement that can cause you a lot of financial issues if not dealt with swiftly and in the correct manner.
We help businesses understand how they can deal with financial issues and enforcement notices, and guide them towards the most appropriate plan of action.
What is a high court writ?
A High Court Writ, or High Court Writ of Control, is a formal order that allows High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs) the powers to access your business premises and seize assets to sell and repay debts owed.
A HCEO will attempt to collect payment up front or arrange a suitable payment plan with you, before they begin to seize assets.
The enforcement officers must act within a specified timeframe when collecting debts, so it’s important that you act quickly to ensure the best outcome for your business.
What is the High Court Writ process?
Creditors will apply for and issue a High Court Writ as a way to enforce County Court Judgements (CCJs). Once the court has issued this, enforcement officers will be sent out to make initial contact with you.
The officers must serve a notice of enforcement on the business premise firstly – the recipient will have 7 days to act before officers attend the premises.
The officers will attend after 7 days if you haven’t made contact and, if they can’t source payment or arrange a repayment plan, they will begin to seize goods to cover the amount owed.
How long does a high court writ last?
High Court Writs will be given a specific time frame for both the HCEOs and company in question to adhere to – this is usually 12 months, starting from the time in which the company was served the first notice of enforcement.
How to stop a high court writ
Once you have received a High Court Writ, you must act quickly to secure your company’s best interests. You’ll need to assess your current financial situation, decide on your optimal route towards clearing your debts and speak to an insolvency practitioner for expert support and guidance.
In simple terms, your options will be as follows:
Apply for a Stay of Execution –
To attempt to completely stop the High Court Writ/Writ of Control going ahead, you’ll need to apply for a Stay of Execution. This will allow you to have the High Court Writ set aside.
You’ll need to have sufficient evidence to prove that you either:
a) Don’t actually owe the debt
b) You were not made aware of the judgement or;
c) Officers have used incorrect methods to attempt to source payment from you.
If you want to know more about how and when to use this method, read our dedicated guide: What is a Stay of Execution?
Pay off your debt –
If you pay off your debt in full, before the 7 day period ends, creditors will cease applying pressure on your business and HCEOs will no longer have the powers to seize goods from your premises.
Arrange a payment plan –
If you can agree on a suitable payment plan with the creditor you owe and are successful in keeping up with payments, you can hold off enforcement officers until the debt is paid in its entirety.
Seek appropriate finance options –
You may be able to free up funds to pay off your debt that are tied up in other areas, such as assets or invoices. There are a lot of finance options available to you should this be the route you wish to take.
Consider a CVA –
A Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) is created, with creditors agreement, to allow businesses to pay off their debts over a set period of time. Over this period, creditors and HCEOs are not able to take action against the company.
The most important thing to remember in this scenario is that you need to act quickly and action one of the above options.
Letting HCEOs visit your premises will ultimately cost you a lot more, as they will often 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.
FAQs about High Court Writs
How long is a high court writ valid for?
A High Court Writ is valid for 12 months. This will start from the date that the notice of enforcement was served. Creditors can also apply to have the Writ extended if necessary.
If a company fails to keep up with repayments, if this method was agreed upon, creditors again have the rights to renew the High Court Writ for another 12 months from that point.
Can High Court bailiffs force entry?
High Court bailiffs can force entry to a business, but only if they have previously visited the premises, served an enforcement notice and noted down a list of potential goods to seize.
HCEOs have more powers than standard HMRC bailiffs do, so you need to be ready to speak with a qualified insolvency practitioner if you find yourself in financial difficulty and in contact with enforcement officers.