FAQs for our High Court clients
To help our clients better understand how High Court Enforcement can help them, we've provided some responses to the most Frequently Asked Questions we receive.
Contact us to discuss your specific questions
- What kind of company is Marston Holdings?
Marston Holdings (Marston) is the UK's largest judicial services group. Our subsidiary companies are Marston Group, Rossendales, Swift Credit Services, Harrison High Court Enforcement, Rossendales Collect and Collectica.
Although Marston is not governed by an association, an independent Advisory Group provides advice and reviews our culture, ethical standards and procedures. If you would like to find out more information about the Advisory Group, please visit the Marston webpage.
Marston and all of the subsidiary businesses work closely with and are members of the Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA) and the High Court Enforcement Officers Association (HCEOA) to deliver the highest standards of service throughout the enforcement process.
We follow legislation set out by the Ministry of Justice as part of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 and follow regulations set out by Ofcom, FCA, CSA Code of Practice and Data Protection Act.
- What does Marston High Court division do?
We recover via writs of control and County Court judgments that have been transferred to the High Court for the purposes of enforcement. This will be completed for recovery of money, assets or land, as well as enforcing Employment Tribunal Awards and ACAS settlements, on behalf of individuals, partnerships, small and large businesses.
- What is Marston High Court?
Marston High Court enforcement is the fastest and most effective form of enforcement in the UK.
When traditional debt collection methods fail, our expertise enables us to prompt immediate engagement from individuals or businesses that have been ordered to pay money, return property or vacate land.
For further information on the process of High Court enforcement, please visit the HCEOA’s website: www.hceoa.co.uk
- What do High Court Enforcement Officers do?
High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs) are personally authorised by the Ministry of Justice to enforce writs of execution. Writs of execution are issued from High Court, the most common being the “writ of control” formerly known as “writ of fieri facias” or “writ of fi fa”.
This is a writ issued for the recovery of money owed and provides for the seizure and sale of the customer's goods. HCEOs can delegate their powers to enforcement agents in the field who act on their behalf. The HCEO is responsible for the conduct of those individuals acting under these delegated powers.
There are currently some 63 authorised HCEOs in England and Wales responsible for the enforcement of High Court writs, nine of whom work for Marston High Court.
- What is a writ of control?
Formerly known as a writ of fi fa (fieri facias), a writ of control is the most common writ issued in England and Wales, allocated for the recovery of money and provides for the seizure and sale of the customer’s goods in the event of non-payment.
- What is a writ of possession?
A writ of possession is a writ that directs a HCEO to recover land or building from an occupier be that a tenant, squatter or otherwise, and authorises the HCEO to use sufficient force to carry out the direction of the court. A writ of possession is also available for general orders for possession issued on the County Court, provided that leave to transfer is given by the court, following a request to the court.
When obtaining your order for possession in the county, please remember to make your request to the court to be able to transfer this to the High Court for enforcement under section 42 of the County Courts Act 1984. If you require assistance, please contact us on 0121 200 7490.
Once we have received the instructions, unless there are specific reasons why we should not attend, we will attend and warn the occupants of the pending eviction.
Simultaneously, we will contact you to arrange a convenient date and time for you to receive possession back of the property.
- When is a writ of control issued?
A writ of control can be issued immediately after the court’s judgment or when an order is made for the recovery of money and/or costs by the successful party. The writ instructs the authorised HCEO to carry out the directions of the court, by taking control of the customer goods.
Unless any stipulations are attached to the judgment or order, if it is not required to seek the court’s permission to issue the writ and give prior notice to the judgment customer that a writ of fi fa has been issued.
- Which judgments are a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) able to enforce?
- Occasions where immediate enforcement cannot occur, are listed below:
- If the total debt is for less than £600;
- If the debt is in relation to a consumer credit agreement, unless the amount owed is over £25,000;
- If the judgment or order contains directions allowing payment within a specified time, the writ of control cannot be issued within that time;
- If the judgment or order contains directions regarding service on the judgment debtor, then the writ of control cannot be issued until service of the judgment or order has been effected and proof of service has been lodged with the court;
- If the judgment or order is conditional, the writ of control can only be issued once the judgment customer has defaulted in complying with any such conditions.
- How can I help the HCEO be successful?
If you have chosen Marston to enforce your writ of control, in order to improve the success of your writ, please send us as accurate information as possible at the time of instructions including: the whereabouts of the customer and the details of the location of assets that you may know about, such as goods supplied.
Any information relating to the customer’s address, telephone contact number and email address can make the difference between making contact with the customer or not. Marston therefore requires you to look at your documentation to retrieve as much information about the customer as possible.
Other methods of enforcement are available which may be more appropriate. For example; charging orders and attachment of earnings if no seizable assets are available.
- How much is a writ issued for?
You can ask a HCEO to enforce any judgment obtained in:
- The High Court
- Any County Court judgment over £600, provided it is not regulated under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 (these agreements can only be enforced in the County Court by their own enforcement agents)
- Any Employment Tribunal or ACAS Award regardless of amount
If you are owed £600 or less, you should apply for a warrant of execution from the County Court. However, if the order follows an Employment Tribunal or ACAS award, you should apply for a writ to be enforced by a HCEO, regardless of the amount.
Judgments over £600 can be transferred to the High Court for enforcement, and often the HCEOs offer a transfer up service if your judgment has been obtained in the County Court.
If the judgment is for over £5,000 this must be enforced by High Court, providing it does not relate to a debt arising from an agreement under the Consumer Credit Act.
- How do I transfer my County Court Judgment to the High Court for enforcement?
If you decide to issue a writ, there is a process in which you will need to seek a 'certificate of judgment' from the County Court, which confirms the amount you are owed in your judgment.
To take advantage of Marston’s free transfer-up service, please complete the transfer up form and we will convert this into a writ for you. The writ will then be issued to one of our authorised HCEOs. If you do have any questions please call us on 0121 200 7490.
If you have completed the paperwork and have a sealed writ of control, please post this to us at:
Marston Group, Embassy House, Church Street, Birmingham B3 2DJ or DX 13014 Birmingham.
- How does Marston’s Transfer Up process work?
This process is handled by our dedicated team, who will take your judgment, complete the necessary court processes to enable the issue of the High Court writ. For more information about this process, please visit our transfer up page on our website
For further information on how our free Transfer Up service can help you, just click here.
- Can I Transfer Up online?
Marston offers clients the ability to track and modify existing cases for its transfer up service via a secure online system.
The Marston transfer up system monitors cases which have been submitted online, by post and via email. The system incorporates a search facility, enabling users to track down a case quickly.
In addition to monitoring the progress of their cases, clients can access other useful information. This includes: the number of cases entered per month, reviewing completed cases, obtaining financial summaries, as well as details of all communications.
Clients can obtain login details by contacting the High Court client services team on 0333 320 2549 or by emailing [email protected]. Please visit the following link to gain access to the online system.
- What does the HCEO do once a writ has been issued?
By issuing the writ, the HCEOs are instructed to seize and sell goods in the absence of payment by the customer. At Marston, enforcement commences once the Notice of Enforcement is posted to the customer. If the customer has more than one address, the HCEO will visit all addresses.
If the customer fails to settle the amount due or come to an arrangement and has goods that can be sold, the HCEO will remove and sell the goods.
Marston will send you the balance after receiving payment or after any auction sale. If this amount does not repay the amount you are owed, the HCEO will visit the debtor again to see if there are any other goods that could be sold. If there are none, Marston will be unable to take further action of the writ, unless you are able to provide another address for the customer.
- What happens if the customer makes an offer for payment?
If a customer claims that they are unable to settle payment in full, Marston can proceed to taking control of any goods and sale of these goods, as the writ permits this. Marston will then forward proposals to you and you may accept or reject the proposals made.
When considering a proposal you should consider the customer’s circumstances in respect of what goods are available or their financial position; or whether there is other enforcement is taking place. This information can only be gained by attending the customer’s address.
- Can a HCEO enter a customer’s property?
HCEOs may only gain access to a private premises if they are invited by someone inside the premises. If there is no-one available, the HCEO can enter using an unlocked door. HCEOs are able to break entry into a commercial property if it is no longer in use and the customer's goods are inside.
HCEOs can also re-enter if they have previously taken control of goods and are returning to the customer's house to recover goods to be sold.
- What goods can the HCEO take?
HCEOs are only able to retrieve goods that belong to the person named on the writ. In cases where the ownership of goods is disputed and a third party claim is made, you may have to decide if you accept or dispute the claim. In these cases an interpleader will be needed to establish whether the third party claim is valid.
An interpleader is an application to the court for a decision on whether the goods are owned by the customer, which is known interpleader relief. Marston can apply for this on your behalf. Any goods that Marston takes will be sold at auction. HCEOs can also apply to the court for a decision on whether any of these goods are needed to meet basic domestic needs of the customer and their family, or whether the goods constitute tools of the trade.
HCEOs cannot take items which include:
- Items that are categorised as exempt goods, such as those which satisfy the basic needs of the customer or their family or tools of trade subject to a maximum value
- Items which are leased, rented or on hire purchase agreements (subject to certain conditions)
- Goods which may have already been seized by any other type of enforcement agent
- Can the customer stop any enforcement action?
The customer can pay a fee to the court and ask for the writ to be “stayed” (stopped), with an application to vary the judgment or set the judgment aside.
These applications are often made without notice to the HCEO and Marston will only be made aware if advised by the claimant or by the court of any order made. Should you be made aware of any application, please notify Marston as soon as possible.
- What if enforcement fails and will happen next?
Marston will keep you informed at every stage of the process, and we would encourage you to make use of our online Unity system which is available upon request. We will notify you if we are able to recover the money outstanding or have retrieved goods equivalent to the outstanding payment. If a writ is unsuccessful, it is usually due to the following reasons:
- The customer is not at the address you supplied
- The sale of the customer's goods are not sufficient enough to meet the amount of monies outstanding, and the cost of taking and selling them at auction will outweigh the likely sale proceeds
- The customer is insolvent
If you need any clarification about the process, please speak to a member of our High Court services team.
- What do I do if I am dissatisfied with your actions?
Marston always strives to deliver the highest quality of service for our clients.
However if you are unhappy with the quality of the service we have delivered or with the outcome of your writ you can send a complaint to us:
- By email: [email protected]
- By fax: 01992 803 001
- By post: Marston, PO Box 12019, Epping, CM16 9EB
- Or online via our website
If you are unhappy with the outcome of a complaint made directly to us, you can complain to the HCEOA via the want to complain section of their website