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High Court Enforcement

A High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) is an officer of the High Court of England and Wales responsible for enforcing judgements of the High Court, often by seizing goods or repossessing property. Prior to 2004, HCEOs were known as Sheriff's Officers and were responsible for enforcing High Court writs on behalf of the high sheriff for each county, but they are now directly responsible for such writs. HCEOs operate in England and Wales.


High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEO’s) are authorised by the Lord Chancellor, and assigned to one of a number of enforcement districts. Generally postcode areas. 


Historically they would be assigned to the Shrieval County (roughly the historic shire) of the corresponding High Sheriff, but under the Courts Act 2003, this connection is severed and the districts are not necessarily coterminous with the shrievalty. The officers retain the common law powers of a sheriff, and, like the sheriff previously, can delegate this authority to others acting in their presence and on their behalf such as an Enforcement Agent.  Even Police Constables are obliged, upon their request, to assist them in executing a writ.


Unlike a Bailiff (Certificated Enforcement Agent) who is an officer of a lower court, an HCEO is an officer of the High Court, and consequently has much greater powers. Obstructing an HCEO in the execution of a writ is considered a criminal offence as is interring with goods under their control. 


The High Court Enforcement Officers Association (HCEOA) formerly known as The Sheriffs Officers Association was formed in 1887 with the continued aim of representing all its member HCEO’s and to provide a voice to Government.

Certificated Enforcement Agent Queries

The Certificated Enforcement Agent (Bailiff) Register (Agents who work for HCEO's)

The register holds details of all Enforcement Agents (previously called Bailiffs) who hold a certificate, granted by a judge at the county court, which allows them carry out enforcement action by way of taking control of goods and, if necessary, selling these to recover a debt. It also contains the details of all individuals who have applied to hold or renew such a certificate. You can search by an enforcement agent's or applicant's name. 

Only "fit and proper" individuals should hold these certificates. If you know of serious conduct issues which would mean that an existing enforcement agent, or an applicant for a certificate, is not a "fit and proper" person, you can use this register to find out which court you should alert to these issues. If you are concerned about a person applying for a new certificate or a renewed certificate, the register also contains the date of the hearing where the judge will consider the application. By addressing your concerns to the court before this date, the judge will be able to consider these as part of the application.


You may also wish to raise any concerns with their Authorised HCEO. 

High Court Enforcement Officers Association (HCEOA)

HCEO’s are overseen by the High Court Enforcement Officers Association (HCEOA) formerly known as The Sheriffs Officers Association which was formed in 1887. Its continued aim is to represent all its members and to provide a voice to Government.This role has developed to them working with Government by improving and implementing changes to current and proposed regulations. They continue to raise the standards of enforcement through improved training, which includes subjects such as vulnerability and mental health awareness. The High Court Enforcement Officers Association guide their members through codes of conduct and current regulation, ensuring that all HCEO members provide not only an effective enforcement service that enables Creditors to recover their Judgments, but also that all parties that are subjected to the enforcement of those Judgments are treated in a fair, ethical and proportionate manner.

Following the introduction of Authorised High Court Enforcement Officers in 2004, the Government has insisted that before authorising any High Court Enforcement Officer, the individual seeking authorisation obtains Associate Membership of the HCEOA, hence all current HCEO’s are members of the Association. 

The Association is the only recognised governing body for HCEO’s. 

The HCEOA website has lots of useful information about High Court Enforcement, including who the Association’s Authorised Officers are, the regulations, code of conduct, and some frequently asked questions. 

The HCEOA will also handle complaints against HCEO’s but only after the HCEO’s internal complaints process has been exhausted. 


Legal Statement

All HCEO instructions submitted via this website are handled by Gallowglass High Court Enforcement, London. Our HCEO is Mr Nicholas Todd.

More information on the High Court can be found here:



HCEO - High Court Enforcement - HCEO.COM 2020