Viewers of programmes such as the 'Sheriffs are coming' and 'Can't pay? We'll take it away' may be aware that there are two different ways to enforce a possession order and recover possession of land or property.

The general procedure is by County Court Bailiff.  The County Court makes an order for possession and the Claimant landlord or land owner applies to enforce the order by warrant for possession. 

However, the Ministry of Justice, which is responsible for the court system, is one of the government departments hardest hit by austerity measures resulting in court closures and a lack of investment in staff and IT systems. These measures have resulted in significant delays in enforcing possession orders.

There is however an alternative. A landlord or land owner may in certain circumstances elect to enforce a possession order by Writ of possession executed by High Court Sheriff.

In exceptional cases possession proceedings may be brought in the High Court and the resulting possession order enforced by the High Court Sheriff. In the majority of cases, proceedings for possession will need to be brought in the County Court, which may result in delay and the loss of rent or other costs for an extended period.

It is possible with the permission of the Court to transfer the proceedings to the High Court for enforcement purposes. This will result in higher costs to the landlord or land owner but will result in possession being recovered in days rather than weeks or months. 

The Civil Procedure Rule Committee is consulting on whether the rules regarding enforcement of possession orders should be reformed and say that the proposals in the consultation (which can be seen here ) 'are intended to improve the process of enforcement of orders for possession in order to bring it up to date with a modern justice system that is open and transparent and in tune with the needs of both the claimant and defendant and others affected'.