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Warrant of execution
Wasting police time
Without Notice ("ex-parte")
Witness
Witness Statement
Witness Summons

Warrant of execution

A warrant of execution is a warrant issued by the court for bailiffs to attend a judgment debtor's premises to seize goods. The idea is that any goods seized will be sold to raise money owed to the judgment creditor.

Applying for a warrant of execution is means of enforcement. Before the court can issue a warrant, the judgment debtor must have:-

  • failed to pay the amount he/she has been ordered to pay; or
  • fallen behind with at least one of his/her payments.

A judgment creditor can ask a county court bailiff to try to get back any amount up to £5,000.

A judgment creditor cannot ask the county court to issue a warrant for more than this, but can transfer his/her judgment to the High Court. He/she can then ask the sheriff's officer to enforce the judgment.

Wasting police time

Wasting police time is a summary-only offence which can result in a custodial sentence.

To convict a defendant of wasting police time the prosecution must prove that he/she caused wasteful employment of the police by knowingly making to any person a false report orally or in writing tending to:-

  1. show that an offence has been committed;
  2. give rise to apprehension for the safety of any persons or property; or
  3. show that he has information material to any police inquiry.

Proceedings may only be instituted by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions (the head of the Crown Prosecution Service). Proceedings for this offence are comparatively rare and a decision to prosecute is likely to be based on (amongst other things) how serious the offence was, what distress was caused and how much police time/money was wasted. There is some overlap with the more serious offence of perverting the course of justice (which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment).

There are also separate offences that relate to bomb hoaxes and false fire reports. False reports to assist in a dishonest insurance claim are likely to constitute fraud.

Without Notice ("ex-parte")

The term "without notice" or "ex-parte" is used to describe the status of an application where the other side has not been given any notice (or sufficient notice) that it is being made.

No notice will be given of an application where to give any notice might defeat the application's purpose. Examples include applications for Mareva orders/freezing injunctions and restraint orders, where an order is required to prevent the dissipation of assets. If the target of the application has notice then he/she may dissipate his/her assets before any order is made.

There will be other occasions where matters are too urgent to give the sufficient notice period (i.e. a number of clear days) to the other side before the court hears the matter. Examples include:

  1. where an injunction is sought to prevent the imminent publication of an article or
  2. where an injunction is sought in a building dispute where the court's intervention is required to prevent a wall being knocked down. In both these cases it is important that the matter is heard "before the horse bolts".

Witness

A witness is an individual able to provide evidence of fact in court proceedings.

A witness's evidence may directly concern the matter being tried (e.g. where a witness saw an event take place) or may relate to his expertise in a certain area (e.g. in interpreting medical evidence).

Unless it is challenged, a witness statement signed by a witness may be read out loud and accepted as evidence in a trial. If the content of a witness statement is to be challenged then the witness should be called to give "live evidence". The witness's assertions may then be subject to cross-examination.

Witness Statement

A witness statement is a signed document setting out a witness's version of events. It forms evidence in a court case.

Unless it is challenged, a witness statement may be read out loud and as accepted evidence in a trial. If the content of a witness statement is to be challenged then the witness should be called to give "live evidence". The witness's version of events may then be subject to cross-examination.

Witness Summons

A witness summons is a document requiring a witness to attend court and/or produce documentation.

A witness summons will be granted following an application if a court decides it is in the interests of justice to do so. This will normally be the case where a court is satisfied that the witness is able to adduce material evidence and a summons is deemed necessary to secure his/her attendance.

If a Judge grants a witness summons and it is served on a witness, he/she is required to attend court on the date stated. If the witness fails to attend court, depending on the type of court/the circumstances, he/she may be committing a contempt of court and liable to a fine and/or imprisonment.

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