Warrant Of Control: What Does It Mean for you?

an office scene, people sat searching for warrant of control information

In the complex landscape of debt recovery and enforcement in the UK, one term that often crops up is a ‘warrant of control.’ Understanding this legal process and what it triggers is crucial for businesses and individuals navigating financial difficulty. A warrant of control (WoC) is more than a mere document; it’s a powerful enforcement method that creditors employ to recover money owed to them. Whether you’re a creditor looking to understand your rights or a debtor seeking clarity on what this means for you, this guide will offer valuable insights.

Quick Links

Understanding of a Warrant of Control

A WoC is a type of court order issued by the County Court in the United Kingdom, following a County Court Judgment (CCJ) against a debtor or company who has failed to repay the money they owe. This legal document gives enforcement agents – commonly known as bailiffs – the authority to ‘take control of goods.’ Essentially, this means that they can visit the debtor’s property, whether it’s a home or business premises, and seize items of value to sell at auction. The money raised from the sale is then used to settle the debt.

There’s a crucial differentiation between a warrant and other legal terminologies related to debt enforcement. For instance, a CCJ is a judgment that a county court issues when someone has failed to pay money they owe. In contrast, a warrant is the subsequent step, an action taken when a debtor fails to respond to or comply with a CCJ. This action may involve bailiffs and credit, with the debtor being required to pay the owed amount in instalments as stated in the writ.

The high court can also issue a similar document called a ‘writ of control.’ Functionally, a writ of control operates similarly to a WoC, but it is typically used for higher-value debts and provides for enforcement on a national level rather than just within the local county court’s jurisdiction. This bailiff action by the high court is conducted by bailiffs and falls under the jurisdiction of the tribunals service. It is mainly used for the enforcement of debts against property.

Understanding the meaning of a warrant is the first step towards understanding the process and the potential implications it may have on an individual or a business. It’s not a situation anyone wants to find themselves in, but sometimes circumstances lead to this point, and being prepared with the right knowledge can help manage the process more effectively.

The Process of Obtaining a Warrant of Control

Before a creditor can obtain a warrant of control, they first need to have a County Court Judgment (CCJ) in place. This judgment is issued when a debtor or company fails to repay a debt in time, and it legally validates the creditor’s claim. Once the CCJ is obtained, the creditor can then proceed with the enforcement notice, which will be served by an enforcement officer or enforcement agent, commonly known as bailiffs.

Upon failure to comply with the CCJ within the stipulated time, the creditor can apply to the court to enforce the judgment by filing an application form to request a warrant. This form often involves providing details such as the original judgment’s specifics, the debtor’s current situation, and the outstanding amount owed. If the debtor still does not pay, the court may issue an enforcement notice, and bailiffs or an enforcement officer may be sent to seize property.

The application carries a court fee, which varies depending on the value of the debt in question. The creditor must pay this fee at the time of application, but it will be added to the total amount that the debtor owes. If the warrant is issued, the debtor will be responsible for paying this fee as part of their debt.

Once the application is processed, the court will issue a Warrant Of Control if it decides that this is the correct course of action. This warrant grants county court bailiffs or high court enforcement officers the right to visit the debtor’s home or business premises and seize goods to the value of the debt and any additional charges.

The county court then sends the warrant to a local county court hearing centre. The bailiff assigned to the case will send a notice of enforcement to the debtor, giving them seven clear days to pay in full before any action is taken.

As such, the process of obtaining a WoC involves a series of steps, each requiring careful paperwork and adherence to the rules set by the court. Failure to follow the correct procedures can result in delays or the dismissal of the application altogether, underlining the importance of understanding the entire process.

Please remember, if your business is facing enforcement actions such as county court bailiffs, professional advice from Company Doctor could be a lifeline. They specialize in Creditor Voluntary Liquidations, which might be an option to consider when the company is insolvent and facing such actions. Contact us on 0800 169 1536.

Freephone including all mobiles

Execution of a Warrant of Control

Once a warrant has been issued, it is given to enforcement agents, also known as bailiffs, to execute. The bailiffs are either county court bailiffs or high court enforcement officers, depending on where the warrant has been issued.

The first step taken by enforcement agents is sending an enforcement notice to the debtor. This notice provides clear information on the debt, the court’s decision, and the actions that will be taken if the debt is not paid within seven clear days.

If payment is not made within this period, bailiffs can visit the debtor’s business premises or home to ‘take control of goods’. Essentially, this means identifying and valuing items that could be sold to recover the amount owed. These items might include vehicles, machinery, and other valuables, excluding essential domestic items or tools of trade up to a certain value.

It’s important to note that strict rules govern bailiffs during their visits. They must carry a copy of the warrant and their identification, which they should show if requested. Bailiffs usually cannot force entry on their first visit unless invited in or the door is left open, and can only visit between certain hours (usually 6 am to 9 pm), excluding bank holidays.

However, if peaceful entry is refused by the occupant, a bailiff can apply to the court for permission to force entry at a later date. Additionally, if the bailiffs have been granted peaceful entry during a previous visit, they can exercise their authority to force entry on subsequent visits if necessary.

During their visit, bailiffs can only seize goods belonging to the debtor, and they can’t take items belonging to a third party. If items are taken, they are usually sold at auction, and the proceeds go towards settling the debt, the fees for the bailiff’s work, and court fees.

This process can be stressful and challenging for debtors, especially when facing potential enforcement action from county court bailiffs. However, it’s essential to remember that help is available. If your business is struggling with debts and in need of assistance, it might be a good idea to seek professional help from Company Doctor. They offer a range of services, including Creditor Voluntary Liquidations, which could provide a viable solution in these circumstances. Remember, if you have a county court hearing, seeking professional help can make a significant difference.

Trustpilot reviews, image of trustpilot logo

Free Advice

Low Cost Liquidations

Nationwide Service

Implications of a Warrant Of Control

A WoC can have far-reaching implications for both individuals and businesses. Essentially, it can disrupt daily life or business operations as it often involves the seizure and potential sale of goods. One needs to comprehend these effects fully and the potential avenues for resolution.

Let’s first discuss a goods agreement or hire purchase. If goods have been purchased on hire purchase or conditional sale agreements, these items are typically exempt from being taken control of by bailiffs. This means that the bailiffs cannot seize goods under such agreements since the debtor is not yet the legal owner.

The warrant can place considerable pressure on the debtor to find a quick debt solution. It may prompt an application for an N245 form to the local county court hearing centre. This process can allow the debtor to offer to repay the debt in instalments, based on their income and outgoings. If accepted, it could provide a realistic repayment plan and a period of ‘breathing space’ for the debtor. However, the court fee may apply, and it’s always a good idea to seek professional debt advice before proceeding with such applications. In some cases, bailiffs may be involved in enforcing the WoC.

In terms of specific consequences for individuals or businesses, the effects of a warrant are primarily financial. Not only could valued possessions or essential business equipment be at risk, but failure to comply with the enforcement agents can also lead to additional charges, increasing the overall debt.

Take the example of a small business with a county court judgment (CCJ) against it. If the business does not meet the terms of the CCJ, a warrant could be issued. This would allow bailiffs to visit the business premises to take control of goods. If the business owner doesn’t cooperate or fails to negotiate a suitable repayment plan, the bailiffs might seize items like company vehicles or other assets. The goods would then be sold to repay the debt, and the business might struggle to operate without them.

In such situations, professional advice can make a significant difference. If your business finds itself in this situation, it’s essential to remember that you are not alone. Companies like Company Doctor are well equipped to guide you through this challenging time, providing expertise in areas like Creditor Voluntary Liquidations, a process specifically designed to support insolvent companies.

Creditor Voluntary Liquidation and Warrant of Control

There is an essential relationship between the world of WoCs and the process of Creditor Voluntary Liquidations (CVL). Understanding this relationship can provide valuable insights into managing your financial affairs effectively, especially if you’re dealing with a challenging financial situation.

Company Doctor, a trusted name in the field, specialises in Creditor Voluntary Liquidations, a procedure designed for insolvent companies unable to pay debts as they fall due. It’s a way for a business to take control of its financial situation by voluntarily winding up the company, preventing further warrants of control from bailiffs and protecting directors from accusations of wrongful trading.

So, how are a warrant and a CVL connected? Let’s consider a scenario. If a company has a county court judgment against it and fails to satisfy the judgment, bailiffs could be issued. This action allows enforcement agents, also known as bailiffs, to take control of the company’s goods to repay the debt. However, should the business decide to enter into a CVL before bailiffs can take action, the process of liquidation begins, which may offer some protection for the company’s assets.

In other words, a CVL can be a proactive way for a struggling business to handle its debt situation, rather than waiting for bailiffs with a warrant to dictate terms. It allows a company to bring in a licensed insolvency practitioner, like Company Doctor, to ensure the liquidation process is handled professionally and efficiently, mitigating the potentially damaging effects of bailiffs with a WoC.

However, remember, choosing a CVL is not a decision to be taken lightly. It’s always advisable to discuss your situation with a professional advisor who understands the implications and can guide you to make the most appropriate decision for your specific circumstances. This is where the expert team at Company Doctor can provide invaluable support, ensuring you’re well-informed and ready to navigate these challenging financial waters.

In contrast to a CVL, a Members’ Voluntary Liquidation (MVL) is a process initiated by the company directors when the company is solvent but no longer required.

Learn more about Creditor’s Voluntary Liquidation on our website.

Conclusion – Warrant of Control

Understanding the intricacies of a WoC, how it operates, and its implications for both individuals and businesses is crucial. It is a potent tool used by creditors, court system, and bailiffs to ensure that debts are paid. However, it’s also a procedure with serious implications, potentially leading to the seizure of goods and further financial stress.

We’ve discussed how a WoC works, the process of obtaining it, and its execution by bailiffs. We’ve also delved into how it impacts individuals or businesses, particularly those already in financial difficulty.

For businesses facing insolvency, there are ways to navigate these choppy waters. One such way is a Creditor Voluntary Liquidation, a process that Company Doctor specialises in. We understand the complexities involved, and our team is here to guide and support you every step of the way.

As we conclude this discussion, it’s worth emphasising that dealing with debt and the prospect of enforcement action by bailiffs requires careful consideration, sound advice, and decisive action. Remember, it’s essential to act promptly if you’re facing a potential warrant or if your business is struggling with insolvency and bailiffs.

If you have any concerns about warrants of control or need assistance with Creditor Voluntary Liquidations, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Company Doctor. We’re committed to helping you find the best possible path forward with bailiffs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a Warrant of Control?

A WoC is a legal document issued by the county court, giving bailiffs the authority to take control of and sell goods to recover a debt.

Who issues a WoC?

A WoC is issued by the county court. It is generally done when a county court judgment (CCJ) or some other type of court order is not followed.

What happens after a WoC is issued?

After a warrant is issued, an enforcement agent, often a bailiff, is given the authority to visit the debtor’s property. They will try to collect the owed debt or take control of goods that can be sold to cover the debt.

Can I stop a WoC?

Yes, you can stop a WoC by paying the debt in full, reaching an agreement with your creditor for a payment plan, or applying to the court to suspend the warrant.

What is the role of a bailiff or enforcement agent in a WoC?

Bailiffs or enforcement agents have the authority to take control of your goods and sell them to pay off a debt. They must follow strict rules and provide an enforcement notice before taking any action.

What is a Creditor Voluntary Liquidation?

A Creditor Voluntary Liquidation (CVL) is a procedure initiated by the directors of a company that is insolvent. The aim is to wind up the company voluntarily and pay off its debts.

Remember, dealing with debt can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to face it alone. If you have any questions about a warrant or if you are considering a Creditor Voluntary Liquidation, don’t hesitate to contact us at Company Doctor. We’re here to provide the support and guidance you need.

How can Company Doctor assist with Creditor Voluntary Liquidation?

Company Doctor provides comprehensive support for companies seeking a CVL. From the initial consultation to the execution of the process, Company Doctor will provide professional advice and hands-on assistance.


The primary sources for this article are listed below.

County court judgments for debt: Overview – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Details of our standards for producing accurate, unbiased content can be found in our editorial policy here.

Scroll to Top