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How Can I Enforce a Court Order?

Following lengthy court proceedings, a party may find themselves ‘stalled’ in a situation where they have successfully obtained a judgment for a sum of money or an order for costs against the other party, but the other party is ‘ignoring’ the order by avoiding contact or payments, thereby avoiding responsibility/liability ordered by the court. The party owed money is the ‘judgment creditor’ and the party owing the money is the ‘judgment debtor’.

What are your options in such circumstances?

There are a number of methods that can be deployed by judgment creditors in such circumstances and this article will provide a brief overview of these enforcement options.

  1. Request for Attachment of Earnings Order

An application to the court is required and if successful, a direction will be made to the judgment debtor’s employer to transfer a proportion of the judgment debtor’s salary to the judgment creditor each month, until the judgment debt is satisfied. Such application takes place in the County Court and is governed by CPR 89.

  1. Application for Third Party Debt Order

This is an application for an order that the judgment debt is enforced by ordering a third party to pay money that was owed to the judgment debtor, directly to the judgment creditor. This provision is governed by CPR 72.

  1. Charging Orders against the Judgment Debtor’s Properties/Assets and Orders for Sale

A judgment creditor will need to apply to the County Court for an interim charging order. This can be registered against the registered title of the property pending the interim charging order being made final by the court. The final charging order can then also be registered against the registered title of the property. If payments are not forthcoming, the judgment creditor can make an application to the County Court for sale of the property/assets which are the subject of the charging order. Sums received for the sale of property/assets can be used to satisfy the judgment obtained. Applications for charging orders are governed by CPR 73 and the Charging Orders Act 1979.

  1. Order to obtain information regarding the Judgment debtor’s financial situation

An application to the court can be made and if successful, information as to the judgment debtor’s financial situation can be obtained to identify any hidden assets or unknown income sources so as to explore routes that may be used to satisfy the judgment debt. Such application is governed by CPR 71.

  1. Other Actions – Instructing Third Parties:
    • Enforcement Officers (bailiffs)

Bailiffs can be instructed to pay in-person visits to the judgment debtor’s property, and they may take possession of the judgment debtor’s items to the value of the judgment debt.

  • High Court Enforcement Agents

High Court Enforcement Agents generally have more powers than bailiffs as they may be able to forcibly enter residential and commercial premises to seize assets.

  • Private Investigation Officers

Private investigation Officers can be instructed to carry out ‘on the ground’ work by making enquiries with people locally as to the judgment debtor’s financial situation so as to identify any hidden assets and income source. This option may be expensive but can be very useful in certain circumstances.

  1. Insolvency based recovery procedures:
    • Statutory Demands
    • Bankruptcy petitions
    • Winding-up petitions

A judgment creditor is not limited to only use one method of enforcement. There are other methods of enforcement relating to non-monetary judgments (which are not the subject of this article).

Get in touch with us by making an enquiry online or call us on 020 7632 4300 to discuss how we may best assist you in your matter.

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