HomeFWJ TakeawayEnforcing a judgmentPart 85 claimsThird party claim to controlled goods / goods seized by a High Court Enforcement Officer – Part 85 claims

Our expert lawyers regularly assist clients in claims involving goods taken by a High Court Enforcement Officer. If you need help getting your goods back, or alternatively are an HCEO on the end of a Part 85 claim - we have the team for you.


Claimants can enforce a judgment by taking control of goods via a High Court Enforcement Officer (“HCEO”). The process involves a Claimant obtaining a Writ of Control from the High Court and instructing a HCEO to seize a defendant’s goods up to the value of the debt. The HCEO can sell the defendant’s goods, to satisfy the judgment, where seizure doesn’t result in the defendant paying the sums due under the judgment.   

What if the goods seized by the HCEO belong to a third party and not the defendant?

This may happen, for example, where a third party’s goods are in a defendant’s possession when a Writ of Control is enforced.  

Where a third party’s goods are seized by a HCEO, the third party will need to formally claim the goods from the HCEO. If the third party does not formally claim the goods from the HCEO, the goods will be sold and the sale proceeds, from sale of the goods, will be used to reduce the debt owed by the defendant.

How does a Third Party make a claim?

A Third Party needs to lodge a claim, often referred to as a ‘Part 85 Claim’ because the process is set out at Part 85 of the Civil Procedure Rules (“CPR”).

Procedure for a Part 85 Claim

Part 85 of the CPR sets out the process for third parties to issue a claim for goods which have been taken into control by an enforcement agent. Part 85 distinguishes between goods which are ‘controlled’ goods and ‘executed’ goods.

Controlled goods are goods seized under a writ of control. 

Executed goods are goods subject to a writ of execution, which include a writ of possession, a writ of delivery, a writ of sequestration, writs relating to ecclesiastical property and any further writ but not including a writ of control.

For the purpose of this article, we are only considering ‘controlled goods subject to a writ of control’ defined as:

‘goods taken control of that-

  • have not been sold or abandoned
  • If they have been removed, have not been returned to the debtor, and
  • If they are goods of another person, have not been returned to that person’.

A third party seeking to claim title to goods seized by a HCEO must:

  • Give notice to the HCEO, within 7 days of the goods being removed, of their claim to title in the controlled goods
  • Make an application to the court. The notice must include information such as the third party’s full name and address, a list of the goods they claim are theirs and the grounds upon which their claim is based.  The notice should ideally attach documents that evidence that the goods are owned by the third party. Evidence may include bank statements showing payment for the goods, invoices, contracts, books and records, etc.

Upon receipt of the third party notice, the HCEO must give notice of the intended application to the Claimant (with the benefit of the Judgment) and any other applicable person (e.g. another party also claiming ownership in the controlled goods) and ask them to confirm whether the third party claim is admitted or disputed.

The Claimant, and any other person claiming ownership to the same controlled goods, must confirm whether they admit or dispute the third-party claim within 7 days of receiving the HCEO’s notice.

If the claim is disputed, it is at this stage that the third party will need to issue an application with the court.

The third-party claimant is required to pay the following sums into court on issue of the application, in addition to the Court issue fee, UNLESS the Court’s permission to dispense with the payment is obtained:

  • A sum equal to the value of the goods to which title is claimed, or to a proportion of the goods’ value where so directed by the Court.
  • A sum equal to the HCEO’s costs of retaining the goods.

The requirement for the payment into Court was introduced to stop vexatious and frivolous third-party claims being issued in respect of controlled goods. Where, however, the goods seized are high value, this requirement can be problematic and stifle valid third party claims.

Our team are used to assisting third party claimants with applications to seek the Court’s permission to dispense altogether with the need for a payment in to Court or to materially reduce the sum payable. Which option most likely to succeed will depend on the third party’s financial circumstances and the nature and level of costs that the HCEO will incur to store and insure the goods that form the subject of the claim.

Part 85 does not set out what the position is where a third-party gives notice of its claim, which was disputed by the claimant or others, and where the third-party does not make a Court application.

Disputed Claim

Usually, the Court will consider the evidence surrounding title to the goods at a hearing and make an early determination regarding whether:

  • The goods are owned by the third party, and as such, should be released by the HCEO to the third party; or
  • The goods are owned by the defendant, and as such, can be sold by the HCEO and the proceeds of the sale paid to the claimant.

On occasion, where the goods are high value or where the Court feels that the documentation presented does not allow a preliminary assessment regarding who truly owns the goods, the Court will give directions for service of additional disclosure, witness evidence and a trial hearing.

Professional Advicehow we can help you

Our team at FWJ have the expertise to advise regarding claims to controlled goods / part 85 claims. We can assist third parties who need to make a claim and HCEO’s who have taken control of goods that form the subject of a claim. It is often the case that a Freezing Order exists in respect of a defendant’s assets. Our specialist team are regularly advising clients on freezing orders and are able to assist where controlled goods may be subject to a freezing order.

We work with professionals experienced in High Court enforcement and Part 85 claims, to deliver the best results to our clients.

  • Chris Badger  is director of Legal and Compliance at Just and an authorised High Court Enforcement Office who sits on the High Court Enforcement Officers’ Association. Chris has over 15 years’ experience as a High Court Enforcement Officer and, as a neutral party, can assist both claimants, third parties and competing creditors to a Part 85 claim. Chris has provided some helpful insight in to the HCEO’s position and approach when in receipt of a Part 85 claim relating to goods seized. Here is a HCEO Case Study  where a third-party claimant failed to make an application under Part 85 within the required time
  • Counsel – we work with a select number of experienced barristers who have a good grasp of the relevant legislation and case law in this area. This ensures that we present our clients’ case, at any hearing, as strongly as possible.

If there was ever a star rating for law firms, Francis Wilks & Jones would score five stars plus. Professional and pro-active, they were able to understand my problem quickly, provide expert advice, outline a solution and put it into place with a successful outcome. I should have gone to them sooner.

A client of the firm


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