What is Fieri Facias?

Legal Definition
A fieri facias, usually abbreviated fi. fa. (Latin for that you cause to be made) is a writ of execution after judgment obtained in a legal action for debt or damages for the sheriff to levy on goods of the judgment debtor.

The term is used in English law for such a writ issued in the High Court. Some jurisdictions in the United States also employ this writ, such as the Commonwealth of Virginia.

It is addressed to the sheriff or High Court enforcement officer, and commands him to make good the amount out of the goods of the person against whom judgment has been obtained.

As of March 2008 fi. fa. can be sought in England and Wales on judgment debts in excess of £600. Whilst fi. fa. can be used to enforce judgments obtained in the county court and High Court. In April 2014 the writ was renamed a writ of control as part of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007.

Hong Kong statute (High Court Ordinance (Cap 4) s 21D(1)) provides that money and banknotes, government stock, bonds and other securities for money are amenable to attachment and sale though fieri facias. But with reference to the English case Alleyne v Darcy (1855) 5 I Ch R 56, securities for money do not include life insurance policies.

This writ was once so common that fieri facias became a slang term for a sheriff, with a pun on the "fiery [ruddy] face" of habitual drunkenness, or for anyone with a ruddy complexion.(Abraham Cowley's Poem Drinking - "By's Drunken fiery face no less")

Under U.S. law a judgment creditor could file a fi. fa. with the land records of the locality in which the debtor is believed to own real property. Even though the sheriff may not actually foreclose on the property, the recorded fi. fa. will act as an encumbrance on the title of the property, which can prevent the property from being sold or refinanced without satisfying the related judgment.

In England and Wales, the writ of fieri facias, except for writs of fieri facias de bonis ecclesiasticis, was renamed to writ of control by the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 on 6 April 2014.
-- Wikipedia
Legal Definition
Practice. The name of a writ of execution. It is so called because, when writs were in Latin, the words directed to the sheriff were, quod fieri facias de bonis et catallis, &c., that you cause to be made of the goods and chattels, &c. Co. Litt. 290 b.

2. The foundation of this writ is a judgment for debt or damages, and the party who has recovered such a judgment is generally entitled to it, unless he is delayed by the stay of execution which the law allows in certain cases after the rendition of the judgment, or by proceedings in error.

3. This subject will be considered with regard to, 1. The form of the writ. 2. Its effects. 3. The manner of executing it.

4.-1. The writ is issued in the name of the commonwealth or of the government, as required by the constitution, and directed to the sheriff, commanding him that of the goods and chattels, and (where lands are liable for the payment of debts, as in Pennsylvania,) of the lands and tenements of the defendant, therein named, in his bailiwick, he cause to be levied as well a certain debt of - dollars, which the plaintiff, (naming him) in the court of - (naming,it,) recovered against him, as - dollars like money which to the said plaintiff was adjudged for his daimages, which he had by the detention of that debt, and that he, (the sheriff,) have that money before the judges of the said court, on a day certain, (being the return day therein mentioned,) to render to the said plaintiff his debt and damages aforesaid, whereof the said defendant is convict. It must be tested in the name of the officer, as directed by the constitution or laws; as, "Witness the honorable John B. Gibson, our chief justice, at Philadelphia, the tenth day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty-eight. It must be signed by the prothonotory, or clerk of the court, and sealed with its seal. The signature of the prothonotary, it has been decided, in Pennsylvania, is not indispensable. The amount of the debt, interest, and costs, must also be endorsed on the writ. This form varies as it is issued on a judgment in debt, and one obtained for damages merely. The execution being founded on the judgment, must, of course, follow and be warranted by it. 2 Saund. 72 h. k; Bing. on Ex. 186. Hence, where there is more than one one plaintiff or defendant, it must be in the name of all the plaintiffs, against all the defendants. 6 T. R. 525. It is either for the plaintiff or the defendant. When it is against an executor or administrator, for a liability of the testator or intestate, it is conformable to the judgment, and must be˜20only against the goods of the deceased, unless the defendant has made himself personally liable by his false pleading, in which case the judgment is de bonis testatoris si, et si non, de bonis propriis, and the fieri facias must conform to it.

5. - 2. At common law, the writ bound the goods of the defendant or party against whom it was issued, from the test day; by which must be understood that the writ bound the property against the party himself, and all claiming by assingment from, or by, representatives under him; 4 East, B. 538; so that a sale by the defendant, of his goods to a bona fide purchaser, did no protect them from a fieri facias tested before, although not issued or delivered to the sheriff till after the sale. Cro. Eliz. 174; Cro. Jac. 451; 1 Sid. 271. To remedy this manifest injustice, the statute of frauds, 29 Car. II. c. 3, s. 16, was passed. The principles of this statute have been adopted in most of the states. Griff. Law Reg. Answers to No. 38, under No. III. The statue enacts "that no writ of fieri facias, or other writ of execution, shall bind the property of the goods of the party, against whom such writ of execution is sued forth, but from the time that such writ shall be delivered to the sheriff, under-sheriff, or coroners, to be executed; and for the better manifestation of the said time, the sheriffs, &c., their deputies or agents, shall, upon the receipt of any such writ, (without fee for doing the sam,) endorse upon the back thereof, the day of the month and year whereon he or they received the same." Vide 2 Binn. R. 174; 2 Serg. & Rawle, 157; 2 Yeates, 177; 8 Johns. R. 446; 12 Johns. R. 320; 1 Hopk. R. 368; 3 Penna. R. 247; 3 Rawle, 401 1 Whart R. 377.

6. - 3. The execution of the writ is made by levying upon the goods and chattels of the defendant, or party against whom it is issued; and, in general, seizing a part of the goods in the name of the whole on the premises, is a good seizure of the whole. Ld. Raym. 725; 2 Serg. & Rawle, 142; 4 Wash. C. C. R. 29; but see 1 Whart. Rep. 377. The sheriff cannot break the outer door of a house for the purpose of executing a fieri facias; 5 do. 92; nor can a window be broken for this purpose. W. Jones, 429. See articles Door; House. He may, however, enter the house, if it be open, and, being once lawfully entered, he may break open an inner door or chest to seize the goods of the defendant, even without any request to open them. 4 Taunt. 619; 3 B. & P. 223; Cowp. 1. Although the sheriff is authorized to enter the house of the party to search for goods, he cannot enter that of a stranger, for that purpose, without being guilty of a trespass, unless the defendant's goods are actually in the house. Com. Dig. Execution, C 5: 1 Marsh. R. 565. The sheriff may break the outer door of a barn 1 Sid. 186; S. C. 1 Keb. 689; or of a store disconnected with the dwelling-house, and forming no part of the curtilage. 16 Johns. R. 287. The fi. fa. may be executed at any time before, and on the return day, but not on Sunday, where it is forbidden by statute. Wats. on Sheriffs, 173 5 Co. 92; Com. Dig. Execution, c. 5. Vide 3 Bouv. Inst. n. 3383, et. seq; Wats. on Sher. ch. 10; Bing. Ex. c. 1, s. 4; Gilb. on Exec. Index, h. t.; Grab. Pr. 321: Troub. & Hal. Pr. Index, h. t.; Com. Dig. Execution, C 4; Process, F 5, 7; Caines' Pr. Index, h. t.; Tidd's Pr. Index, h. t.; Sell. Pr. Index, h. t.
-- Bouviers Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
(That you cause to be made.) In practice. A writ of execution commanding the sheriff to levy and make the amount of a judgment from the goods and chattels of the Judgment debtor.
-- Black's Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
A writ of execution, usually for levy upon goods only. See Execution.
-- Ballentine's Law Dictionary