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.

Obtaining information from the judgment debtor

Upon an application by a creditor for an order to obtain information from a judgment debtor, the Court will require such a debtor to attend Court in order to answer questions on his or her financial status including the amounts involved, account names, numbers and policy numbers as well.

Application procedure for obtaining information

  • Form N316 must be used (can be obtain from the Court)

  • Identity of the judgment debtor must be specified

  • Judgment debtor’s name and address must be stated

  • The amount presently owed must be stated

  • Request can be made for specific documents to be produced as evidence

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For more information on:

  • Cost of Application for an attachment of earnings order
  • Role of the Court
  • Protected earnings rate
  • Order by the Court
  • Recovering the debt
  • Jurisdiction