When is enforcement used?
If, having obtained a judgement in the County Court or the High Court the judgement debtor (the party against whom the judgement has been obtained) does not make payment voluntarily, the judgement creditor (the party who brought the claim) can enforce the judgement in order to attempt to secure payment.
How can a judgement be enforced?
There are a number of different ways in which a judgement can be enforced. The most common methods used are as follows:
Warrant of Execution / Writ of Fieri Facias
This method involves a Bailiff (if the judgement was obtained in the County Court) or a High Court Enforcement Officer (if the judgement was obtained in the High County or if the matter has been transferred from the County Court to the High Court for enforcement purposes) attending the judgement debtor’s home or premises and seizing and then selling goods to the value of the judgement.
Before the Bailiff or High Court Enforcement Officer can seize any goods it is necessary for the judgement creditor to obtain from the court a Warrant of Execution (if the judgement was obtained in the County Court) or a Writ of Fieri Facias (if the judgement was obtained in the High Court).
The main advantage of this method of enforcement is that it is relatively inexpensive. The main disadvantages are that not all types of goods can be seized (for example tools of the judgement debtor’s trade cannot be seized) and a Bailiff or High Count Enforcement Officer cannot gain entry to a house or premises by force.
A charging order operates in a similar manner to a mortgage and, therefore, can only be used where the judgement debtor owns a property.
An application for a charging order is a 2 stage process. The first stage involves the making of an interim charging order and the second stage involves the making of a final charging order.
The first stage is essentially a paper exercise and is normally done without giving any notice to the judgement debtor. This stage involves the judgement creditor making an application to the court for an interim charging order. Assuming that the application complies with the necessary formalities the judge will grant an interim charging order and list a hearing at which a judge will consider whether to make a final charging order or not. The judgement debtor will be given notice of the hearing and will be able to make representations as to why a formal charging order should not be made.
A charging order can be registered with the Land Registry and if and when the judgement debtor sells the property, if there is sufficient equity in the property, the monies owed under the judgement are paid to the judgement creditor (the person who is owed the money) together with interest from the date of the charging order.
For more information on:
- Third Party Debt Orders
- Attachment of Earnings
- Which is the best method of enforcement?