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Enforcement Methods in the Civil Courts

Once a judgement has been given by a County Court, it is unusual that any further action will need to be taken. In the vast majority of cases, the losing party will pay the amount ordered and business will continue as normal. However, there are occasions where the losing party will fail to comply with the judgement, and so something will need to be done in order to enforce the judgement.

Enforcement should be considered before proceedings are even commenced if the party with whom proceedings are brought is uninsured. The practical considerations that need to be addressed before commencing any sort of litigation is whether the opposing party would have the means to pay what you would be pursuing for. You could spend a lot of money on legal fees taking it forward, only to be unable to enforce the judgement.

There are several different types of enforcement method that could be utilised. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. And what would be suitable would depend on the circumstances of the case. If you intend to enforce a judgement you should seek specialist legal advice. The four most common methods of enforcement are taking control of goods, a charging order, a third-party debt order, or an attachment to earnings order.

Taking Control of Goods

This method has an enforcement agent seize and sell the debtors goods to pay the judgement debt and costs. The seized goods are then sold at public auction, after deducting the expenses of sale, the judgement debt and costs are paid and then any surplus is returned to the debtor.

Judgements obtained in the High Court, or in the County Court with a value of £5,000 or more must be enforced in the High Court. The High Court will issue a writ of control which will authorise High Court Enforcement Officers to seize the judgement debtors’ assets. Judgements obtained in the County Court of a value between £600 and £5,000 have a choice of whether to issue enforcement in the County Court or the High Court. The advantage of transferring to the High Court is that interest then accrues on the Judgement Debt. To enforce in the County Court, the party must apply for a warrant of control in the County Court.

Charging Orders

A judgement creditor may apply to the court for an order to place a charge over the judgement debtors land or certain specified securities. Although it does not guarantee immediate payment, it does secure the debt and it accrues interest. Once you have a charging order, then there is scope to apply for an order of sale in order to obtain payment from the proceeds of sale.

Third-Party Debt Orders

Where a third-party owes money to the judgement debtor, the court can make an order requiring the third-party to pay their debt to the winner of the case. Often a bank account or building society is the target for such an order.

Attachment of Earnings Order

This is an order pursued if the judgement debtor is an individual. It compels the judgement debtor’s employer to make regular deductions from the debtors’ earnings and pay them to the court. The High Court does not have the power to make such orders and the amount remaining on the judgement must be £50 or more for it to be able to be used.

If you have a judgement that you wish to enforce, or if you have a dispute you wish to start proceedings on, call me on 01133 50 40 30 or email me at hello@scesolicitors.co.uk to arrange a free 10-minute consultation and we can advise you on where you stand and how we can help you in pursuing your legal claim.

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SCE Solicitors is a boutique employment law practice based in Leeds which advises clients nationwide.  Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here.

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