What is the difference between a debt collector and a high court enforcement officer?

If your business owes money to another business and you ignore all communication regarding paying the debt, you may end up with a debt collector or high court enforcement officer (HCEO) on your doorstep. If this happens, it is important to understand the difference between the two.

Below we have put together some of the key differences:

Debt Collector

Who do they work for?

Debt collectors may work for the company that you owe money to or alternatively, the company may have instructed a debt collection agency to recover the debt. 

Can a debt collector enter our premises and remove goods?

Debt collectors do not have the same powers as HCEO’s, they cannot force entry into your business premises or remove goods, without your permission. If you ask a debt collector to leave your premises, they must leave and there is nothing they can do about it.

In summary, debt collectors’ powers are very limited.

High Court Enforcement Officer

Who do they work for?

HCEO’s (formally known as sheriffs) act on behalf of the court and are appointed by the Ministry of Justice.

When can a creditor use a HCEO?

A creditor can use a HCEO if:

  • Your business has a CCJ
  • The debt is over £600
  • The debt isn’t regulated under the Consumer Credit Act 1974
Can a HCEO enter our premises and remove goods?

HCEO’s work on behalf of the courts, therefore, they have greater legal rights and power than debt collectors. HCEO’s can enter your premises to remove goods to satisfy the debt, however, they are not allowed to force entry. They can only use force to enter your premises, if they have exhausted all other options.

What can’t the HCEO’s take from my business?

HCEO’s are not allowed to remove goods that are essential to the running of your business. Along with this, they are not allowed to take any goods that are on lease or hire purchase.

Advice from My Debt Recovery

If you are struggling to pay your creditors, we would always advise that you engage with them at your earliest convenience, to discuss your options. By doing this, you can avoid a debt collector or HCEO turning up at your business premises. Here at My Debt Recovery, we pride ourselves on our professionalism and always approach debtors with an attitude of understanding.


If you are struggling with late payments, contact our specialist team today to see how we can help!

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