Enforcement of sundry debt

When looking at local authorities’ options for the recovery of sundry debt and other arrears, High Court enforcement under a writ of control is often the preferred option. However, High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEO) are currently not permitted to enforce debts below £600.

The High Court Enforcement Officers Association (HCEOA) has long been championing a change to the Jurisdiction Order 1991 to allow all judgments to be enforced by an HCEO, a change which would greatly benefit local authority revenue recovery.

The HCEOA has run several surveys of the industry, including local authorities, the legal profession, HCEOs and court users. Each time, the response has been a resounding “yes”, with 99% of respondents supporting change to the Jurisdiction Order to permit freedom of choice.

The HCEOA and its members believe that HCEOs could help court users by offering:

  • Recovery through first-time compliance and early payment
  • A flexible and sympathetic approach to enforcement
  • Proven capacity to deliver a nationwide service
  • Experienced and highly trained teams
  • Full transparency and real time reporting
  • The latest advances in technology

Currently, sub-£600 debts are enforced by County Court Bailiffs, many of whom have case backlogs. One HCEOA survey respondent commented:

“So many more cases would be put forward for enforcement if the law was to change, most of the time clients will not be interested in taking things further for lower debts due to the cost and lack of success for County Court Bailiffs.”

A previous concern around making this change was to do with the fees to be charged for lower value judgments. The HCEOA has proposed that the fees that HCEOs charge for collecting debts under £600 should match the non-High Court fee scale for debts of the same amount.

This would make the fees for judgments below £600 100% in line with the current system, which should align comfortably for local authorities.

In the second half of 2023, the Ministry of Justice published proposals for the long-awaited review of enforcement fees.

At Excel Civil Enforcement and High Court Enforcement Group, we think it likely that any change to the Jurisdiction Order would come after the enforcement fee review has been concluded, as a fee schedule for sub-£600 debts would be required.

As a group of companies, we continue to support the HCEOA in their campaign to secure freedom of choice for creditors.

Excel Quick Pay - the new debtor app

The app is free to download and free to use. It has been designed to give debtors a quick, easy and user-friendly way to manage their debt.


Sign up to our newsletter

Sign up and we will send you our monthly newsletter, plus details of our eBooks, webinars and events.