A creditor’s writ of control allows a high court enforcement officer or bailiff to visit your premises to get payment or take your goods when you owe money.
It is not uncommon for two creditors to issue separate writs, but which should be given priority?
In the recent case of Court Enforcement Services v Burlington Credit the High Court held that the creditor whose writ is first received by a high court enforcement officer should be given priority, rather than the creditor whose bailiff receives the fruits of the writ from the debtor first.
In this case creditor A issued a writ on 11 June 2018, which was received by the enforcement company the next day. After receiving no response to a notice of enforcement, the bailiff attended the debtor’s premises and took control of the contents under the writ, but agreed to defer further action under a Controlled Goods Agreement.
Meanwhile, creditor B issued a writ on 16 July 2018 sending it to a different enforcement company whose bailiff attended the premises and secured immediate payment of creditor B’s debt. Creditor A responded by obtaining an order that creditor B pay over the money.
The case preserved the long-established principle that a debtor’s goods are bound by the writ from a particular point in time. It is only once the first writ has been satisfied that any surplus proceeds can be applied to a second writ.
The judgment helpfully confirms that there has been no change under the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 and the order of priority between competing creditors with writs of control is established by the date and time that the writs are lodged with the high court enforcement officer.