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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

CCP: Writs of fi fa: Deciding whether to issue a writ of fi fa or warrant of execution

The use of an Authorised High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) may be particularly beneficial for debts due from companies or recovery from commercial premises because of their greater powers. For residential properties, although an HCEO’s powers are no greater than those of a county court bailiff, the manner in which an HCEO executes those powers can produce a more effective performance.

A writ of fi fa can only be issued for the full amount of the judgment debt, and must be for at least £600.00.

You must apply for a writ of fi fa if you wish to issue execution on a judgment debt of £5,000.00 or more. There is no upper monetary limit to a writ of fi fa.

If you have been unable to distrain, for example due to the ‘sunrise to sunset’ restrictions, but know of effects, a writ of fi fa may be particularly effective. A writ of fi fa may be executed at any time of the day or night.

Otherwise, the choice of whether to use a warrant of execution or writ of fi fa is for local management, within the constraints already set out. But remember that if there are no goods, neither will be successful.

You should first consider the judgment debtor’s circumstances and whether they have sufficient goods to make a writ of fi fa a viable option. Should it be necessary for the HCEO to make several calls, or the action proceeds to removal and sale at auction, the HCEO’s costs may be substantial.

The amount raised at auction must be sufficient to cover

  • the initial fee for the writ
  • the HCEO’s costs and 
  • a reasonable proportion of the judgment debt; say 10% as a rough guide.

Do not apply for a writ of fi fa where you have no information about goods.