Once judgement is entered for a monetary amount, it must be paid in full, unless the court agrees payment by installments, within 14 days of judgment. If payment is not made enforcement action has to be taken by the party entitled to payment, as the court will not take any action to enforce a judgement unless requested to do so. Interest is usually payable on a judgement debt until payment is made, and the cost of applying for enforcement will automatically be added to the judgement.
There are a number of enforcement methods available through the county court, which can be utilised.
Orders to obtain information (oral examination)
An oral examination order which requires that the defendant to attend court and provide under oath details of his income, capital, savings, and detail of his outgoings can be applied for. You can then use this information to decide what further enforcement action should be taken.
Application for an order to obtain information is made on Form N316, which is filed at court with the appropriate fee. The court will them send an affidavit or questionnaire to the defendant, together with an order to attend court. When the defendant attends court, he will be questioned by a district judge or authorized officer of the court. You have the right to attend if you wish, or may write into court with any information you have, or questions you wish to put.Should the defendant not cooperate, either by refusing to attend the oral examination or not answering questions, a penal notice can be applied to the order. Continuing refusal would the be a contempt of court, leading to imprisonment.If you decide not to attend court, you will be informed by the court of the information provided.
Warrants of control
A warrant of control is an order that the court bailiffs collect the judgement debt under the special powers they are awarded. Application is on Form N323 with the appropriate fee.
Court bailiffs may enter a debtor’s home or business premises and seize items they find for sale by public auction to pay the debt. Often, they will agree a scheme of payment by installments, secured by an agreement that the bailiff will not remove the ‘seized’ items so long as payments are made, and that the debtor agrees likewise not to dispose of them until the debt is satisfied.There are certain items which the Bailiff cannot seize, such as tools of the trade and essential personal items such as clothing bedding, and some furniture. The Bailiff can not enter a residential property by force.
Attachment of earnings orders
When a debtor is in employment, an attachment of earnings order can be obtained to require his employer to deduct a certain amount each week or month, and pay it to you in reduction of the debt. Application is on Form N337, together with the court fee and a statement confirming the amount unpaid.A hearing date will be fixed, and notice sent to the defendant. So long as the judge is satisfied that the debt remains outstanding and that the defendant is in employment, an order will be made. However, part of the earnings will be ‘protected’ for essential living expenses, and the court will decide how much can be deducted under the order.
This process allows a person who is owed money under a judgement to secure his debt by registering the amount as a charge against property owned by the debtor. Application is on Form N349, which is filed together with the court fee and a sworn affidavit setting out the amount owed, the property owned by the debtor,with other charges and interests which affect the property, and often a copy of a land registry search against the property.On receiving the application, the court will make a temporary interim charging order, and fix a hearing date. At the hearing, the debtor and any other persons with an interest in the property may make representations. Providing any other legitimate interest are not prejudiced, the court could be expected to make the charging order absolute.
Once the order is absolute, you may then apply for the property to be sold. Application is on Form with the fee. It is also necessary to file a supporting affidavit, confirming that the debt is still outstanding, and the probable value of the property.
A further hearing date is fixed. The court will consider the amount that would be realized by a sale, and the effect upon other persons, especially children, living in the property. Where there are young children who would be adversely affected by a sale, or there is a realistic prospect of the debtor making payment, a sale is likely to be delayed for a set period.
Alternative methods of enforcement
Consider serving a Statutory Demand