Attachment of Earnings Order

What is an attachment of earnings order?

An attachment of earnings order is an order by the court which requires money from the earnings of a judgment debtor (a person who owes money to another and is ordered by the court to pay such a sum) to be deducted in order to pay the debt owed.

It is a very useful method of enforcing a debt in circumstances where the judgment debtor does not have any other substantial assets but is in paid employment.

Prerequisites of an attachment of earnings order

  • Judgment debtor must be in arrears of payment of the debt (at least one)

  • The amount owed must exceed £50 (Attachment of Earnings Act 1971)

Attachable earnings

  • wages

  • salaries

  • fees

  • bonuses

  • commission

  • overtime payable under a contract of service

  • occupational pensions

  • statutory sick pay

Excluded earnings

  • State pensions

  • Benefits or allowances

Excluded debtors

The following judgment debtors are excluded from an attachment of earnings order:

  • Self-employed

  • Unemployed

  • Firm or limited company

  • Merchant seaman

  • Person in the army, navy or air force

However it is still possible to obtain money from a judgment debtor who is in the air force, army or navy or who is a merchant seaman.

Determining the judgment debtor’s employability

If a person is unsure as to whether or not the judgment debtor is employed, he or she may be able to obtain this information by one of the following methods:

  • An application to the court for an order to obtain information where if granted the judgment debtor will be questioned regarding his or her employment status.

  • A request to the Court for a search of the attachment of earnings index (index which lists all existing attachment of earnings order) in the debtor’s local area to determine if he is listed.

  •  A request to the Court for a consolidation of debts if there is a pre-existing attachment of earnings order against the judgment debtor.

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For more information on:

  • Obtaining information from the judgment debtor
  • Cost of Application for an attachment of earnings order
  • Role of the Court
  • Protected earnings rate
  • Order by the Court
  • Recovering the debt
  • Jurisdiction