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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Enforcement action: county court proceedings: warrants of execution: conditions on the use of a warrant of execution

The general principle of realising debts by seizing and selling goods belonging to the debtor is the same as the Department’s powers of distraint, but the court bailiff may execute a warrant of execution in a slightly different way because of the court’s different legislation and case law.

Conditions on the use of a warrant of execution

Warrants of execution are subject to some conditions; for example:

  • a warrant must not be issued for less than £50, or the amount of one monthly instalment, whichever is the greater.
  • the county court bailiff cannot execute a warrant for £5,000 or more, (in these cases you should issue a writ of fi fa for execution by the Authorised High Court Enforcement Officer instead)
  • if you want to issue a warrant more than six years after the date of judgment or order, you must first seek leave of the court on form N244 (you may of course re-issue an unproductive warrant at any time within 12 months from its issue)
  • warrants are reckoned from the date and time they are issued, not from the time they are executed
  • a warrant cannot be issued for the same action while an earlier warrant is still in force.

You should take these points into account when deciding whether a warrant of execution is practicable.

Warrants of execution against seafarers

If the judgment debtor is a seafarer, attach a letter to form N323 explaining that the debtor is a seafarer and will be at the address for a short period. Specify the dates when you know the debtor will be there and ask for the warrant to be issued and executed without delay.

Warrants of execution against farmers

If the judgment debtor is a farmer, you must provide the court with an official certificate (Land Registry form AC6) of the result of a search at the Land Registry as to the existence of any charge registered under the Agricultural Credits Act 1928. This Act defines a farmer as ‘any person (not being an incorporated company or society) who, as tenant or owner of an agricultural holding, cultivates the holding for profit’. This includes:

  • poultry farming
  • bee-keeping
  • fruit and vegetable growing.

When you intend requesting a warrant of execution against a farmer:

  • obtain form AC6 from the Land Registry website 
  • complete the form according to the notes on it
  • send it to the Agricultural Credits Department at the address shown with the appropriate fee (currently £0.50) made payable to Land Registry or use the Land Registry Telephone search on 0845 308 4545 quoting your credit account number (DMBM685030)
  • enter the fee on form C17(SAFE)
  • treat the fee as irrecoverable.

You will normally receive an official certificate of search by return of post. When it arrives, attach it to form N323. You must make the request to the court within three days of the date of the certificate.

CCBC cases

You can apply for warrants of execution using IDMS only if you:

  • issued the claim through the CCBC
  • have not transferred the court action to your local county court
  • obtained judgment via the interface and the judgment details are recorded on the CCBC Judgment/Warrant screen in PROCEEDINGS DETAILS.

Remember that although the CCBC issues warrants of execution, it is the local court that executes the warrant.