Have you ignored a CCJ from the court for council tax debt, loan debt or any other type of arrears? 

You might be about to face bailiffs with a warrant. And you’ll have to pay bailiff’s fees too!

But does the warrant have to be signed? And if so, does it need to be a wet-ink signature? We answer this question and others all to do with bailiffs and warrants.

Scroll down our page to uncover the details!

The Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007

The Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 concerns matters relating to changes in the court system. 

Part 3 of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 details matters related to enforcement agents, warrants of control and taking control of goods. It’s where formal answers on this topic can be found.

You can consult the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 from the UK Gov website here

Or you can read on for a simpler explanation… 

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What is a Warrant of Control?

A Warrant of Control is a legal document issued by a court if you failed to pay a County Court Judgment (CCJ). The issued warrant allows a bailiff, also known as an enforcement agent or enforcement officer, to seize possession of your goods on behalf of a business you owe money to. 

For example, if a judge orders a debtor to repay the sum owed through a CCJ and the debtor ignores the request, the creditor or company could then ask for a Warrant of Control to be able to enforce the debt using bailiffs. 

When this happens, you are subject to further bailiff fees. You will have to pay the bailiff over £300 minimum if it gets to this stage.

You may be able to agree on a payment schedule to spread out the cost of your debts. This will prevent the need for further legal action and the majority of the bailiff’s fees. 

What can an enforcement agent do with a warrant?

With a warrant of control, an enforcement agent can take possession of your goods and store them ready to be sold at an auction. 

The money raised by the sale of goods can then be used to repay the debt. However, bailiff service fees will be deducted from the money raised. 

The bailiff must come to the property at a reasonable time and must give seven days’ notice of their intended visit date. 

If a bailiff fails to provide the appropriate notice, they have committed an offence. 

The bailiff must also not force entry into the property in most situations, such as collecting loan debt or council tax debt. But they can access your premises using open or unlocked entrances.

It is best to keep all doors and windows locked, otherwise they may walk into your premises and catch you by surprise. 

There are limited situations when they can “force” entry to a premises to take control of goods, such as enforcing court fines. The complete list is:

  1. Collecting HMRC tax debt
  2. Unpaid Magistrates Court fines
  3. When you default on a Controlled Goods Agreement with them

But even then, this means using a locksmith rather than breaking down the property door. 

You should always start by asking them to prove their identity and to see their enforcement agent certificate. They must provide their identity as per Schedule 12 of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. I

If the bailiff fails to provide identity, you can ask them to leave.

Did you know? Some enforcement agents can arrest you in certain situations if there is a warrant for your arrest!

But, do I get a chance to repay?

The bailiff company will initially issue a Notice of Enforcement, which is a letter that gives you the chance to repay in full or agree to a Controlled Goods Agreement (CGA). The regulations allow bailiffs to charge you for this notice – £75. 

A CGA is a repayment plan where your goods are secured against it. If you miss payments then the bailiff can come and collect those goods and sell them. 

Does a warrant have to be signed by a judge?

The bailiff will need to provide you with evidence of your debt and the warrant with a signature and date on it. Sometimes the enforcement agent will show a ‘High Court ‘Writ’ instead. 

The law allows bailiffs to show you the warrant of control in hard copy or on a device. When they show this to you, make sure to check the name and address listed. If there are errors, the warrant may not be valid. 

Does a bailiff warrant need a wet-ink signature?

The law states that a warrant does not need a wet-ink signature. 

The reason a wet-ink signature is not required is that the enforcement agent certificate – which you can request to see when they first show up – must have a wet-ink signature by a judge. 

If the certificate is without a wet-ink signature then you can ask them to leave your premises and threaten to call the police. The bailiff must be civil and leave quickly.

With this signature on the identity certificate along with a warrant, this gives the bailiffs all the authority they need to start taking control of goods. 

How long does a Warrant of Control last?

The warrant lasts for 12 months.

 If at the end of this year the debt has not been paid, or if the bailiff has not submitted a final report, it expires. 

However, the creditor can request for the warrant to be extended. They will need to make an additional payment for this request and must do it before the warrant expires – or face further difficulties. 

Need help dealing with county court bailiffs?

For more advice and support dealing with bailiffs and warrants, you can speak for free with UK debt charities.

These groups offer every debtor a personal service to get out of debt and stand up to a bailiff’s tactics. They can provide their help with any type of arrear, from council tax to credit cards and even secured debts. 

And our MoneyNerd guides are always here to explain regulations and processes. And discuss what you can do to fight back against your bailiff!

About the author

Scott Nelson

Scott Nelson is a financial services expert, with over 10 years’ experience in the industry, including 6 years in FCA regulated companies. Read more