Seizing goods as payment for a debt: The key points

If you have obtained a Court Judgement and the debtor still refuses to pay you can apply to have their goods seized.

Simply telling the debtor that a warrant of control (County Court) or writ of control (High Court) has been issued is often enough to make a debtor settle, provided they have the means to pay.

Different Courts and officials will take care of things, depending on the size of the debt:

  •  Below £600:  County Court Bailiff (CCB)
  •  £600 to £5,000: CCB or High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO)
  •  Over £5,000:  HCEO

For debts of over £1,000 we would generally recommend taking the High Court route. High Court Enforcement Officers tend to be more robustin their pursuit of debtors.

What will it cost?

For the County Court service you will pay a £70 warrant fee. There are no further charges and you should get this back, provided the debtor pays or the money can be realised by selling their assets.

The High Court service charges for each phase of the enforcement process, as and if required:   

  •  Issuing the 7 day notice(s): £75 + VAT per notice
  •  Initial visit, if required: £190 + 7.5% of the total owed minus the first £1,000
  •  Taking control of goods: £529 + VAT, plus 7.5% of the total owed, minus the first £1,000.

Again, you can recover these costs from the debtor, provided they have the means to pay.

The enforcement process, step by step

The County Court and High Court processes are similar but they will only be successful if the debtor has the funds or assets to cover the debt. If you know the debtor has an expensive car, or antiques etc. give details to your lawyer because this will improve your chances of recovering the money due to you.

1:      7 day enforcement notice

Upon a warrant of control or writ of control being issued the Court will instruct the enforcement officer or bailiff to take action.

This begins with a notice, sent to the debtor, giving them 7 days (excluding Sundays and Bank Holidays) to pay up in full.

In our experience if a debtor ‘can pay, but won’t pay’, most will give in at this point and settle.

2:      Taking control of goods: part one

If the debtor ignores the notice or wants to negotiate payment terms the Enforcement Officer or Bailiff will visit them.

At this point the debtor can pay up or agree instalments. This settlement will include your costs.

3:      Taking control of goods: part two

If the debtor still refuses to cooperate, the Enforcement Agent will take the debtor’s goods under his or her ‘control’.

They may secure goods at the property or take them away for ‘sale or disposal’, generally at auction. There are strict rules governing things such as right of access and what can or cannot be taken.

What happens next?

Any goods recovered are generally sold at auction. The money raised will first go to pay any enforcement fees you owe. The remainder will then be paid to you to cover the debt.

If the amount raised is not enough to clear the Judgment the Enforcement Officer or Bailiff can repeat the process, taking control of further assets.

Additional costs

There are some additional costs to consider, such as court fees and legal fees, so it is important to weigh up your debtor’s financial circumstances before you choose this route.


A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, Jackie’s legal career has always relied on calmly supporting clients through processes which are unfamiliar and potentially stressful.

For over 30 years, she worked in Debt Recovery, winning awards for her handling of complex litigation and extensive experience in advising on commercial and consumer matters from pre-legal action and the issuing of proceedings, through to enforcement of Judgments, bankruptcy and winding up petitions. 

In 2017, due to the increasing demand of Verisona Law’s conveyancing services, Jackie was invited to move departments within the firm and join its Residential Property Team.

‘We are dealing with increasingly involved property matters and needed someone who had a proven track record successfully helping clients through legal processes,’ explains Danielle Allday, Head of Residential Property. ‘I was delighted when Jackie agreed give us the benefit of her expertise.’

‘I am thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to diversify my legal skills and get to work with and for a wide range of new people,’ says Jackie. ‘Whether it be matters of property, financial affairs or both, the most important thing is to provide clients with clarification, guidance and, where needed, reassurance.’

  • 1991 Debt Recovery Manager at Blake Lapthorn
  • 2003 Awarded Credit Today Litigation Specialist of the Year
  • 2011 Joined Verisona Law as Debt Recover Manager
  • 2017 Joined the Conveyancing Team at Verisona Law

Conveyancing

  • Purchase and Sale of Residential Property, both Freehold and Leasehold.
  • Lease Extensions
  • New Builds
  • Remortgaging
  • Shared Ownership
  • Key Workers
  • Help to buy schemes
  • Acting for management companies
  • Right to manage
  • Transfer of Equity
  • Deeds of Variation or Rectification
  • Equity Release Schemes

Debt Recovery

  • Commercial and consumer claims from the issue of proceedings to Judgment
  • Enforcement of Judgments by Writ of Fi Fa, Orders to attend Court for questioning, Attachment of Earnings, Third Party Debt Orders, Charging Orders and Orders for sale
  • Bankruptcy and winding up proceedings
  • Debt purchase

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