In this two part series, James Gould discusses the options when facing a situation whereby you have acquired a judgement but your opponent is not complying with the order of the Court.
In part one, we look at:
- Charging Orders;
- Writs and Warrants of Control;and
- Attachment of Earnings Order
What do you do in this circumstance?
The courts of England and Wales are almost unique in the world in that they do not enforce their own judgements, so it is necessary to take practical enforcement action yourself.
Luckily there are multiple enforcement options should you find yourself in this situation.
Naturally, the preferred type of enforcement action will depend on the type of judgement you have (i.e. is it a money judgement or is it a judgement for something other than money such as an injunction?)
Set out below is the list of the possible methods of enforcement and the pros and cons of using that method for money and non-money judgement.
Charging Orders are possibly one of the most popular ways of enforcing many judgements. This enforcement method consists of placing a legal charge on the title of a property owned by the judgement debtor.
The effect of this is that – once the charge is made – should the judgement debtor sell their property in the future then they will be obliged to discharge the charge in your favour before they see any of the sale money.
Charging Orders are very popular as they are an almost certain way of ensuring that a judgement creditor actually receives their money. Their major downside however, is that the money is not realised until the property is sold and in some cases this could be many years.
It is possible to apply to the Court after a Charging Order has been made for a further order that the property be sold. However, in many circumstances it is very hard to obtain an order for sale, unless the value of the Charging Order is very close to the actual value of the property. It is almost impossible to acquire an Order for Sale where a property is a family home and there are children living there.
For obvious reasons, Charging Orders are only suitable for enforcing money judgements.
Writs and Warrants of Control
These are orders made by the High Court or County Court respectively authorising either a County Court Bailiff or a High Court Enforcement Officer to take control of the goods of a judgement debtor to the value of the judgement. In short, this is sending in the bailiffs.
Writs and Warrants of Control are one of the oldest methods of enforcement and remain very popular to this day. Their obvious advantage is that it is a potentially quick way of realising the value of a judgement.
However, they are of limited use against individual judgement debtors who do not possess high value property. They are most effective against companies who are likely to have a significant amount of high value goods in their control.
Attachment of Earnings Order
This is an order from the Court that the wages of a judgement debtor be deducted by a certain amount each month. This amount is then given to the judgement creditor and this arrangement continues until the judgement debt is paid off. The attraction of an Attachment of Earnings Order is that it secures a guaranteed income from the judgement debt and is a useful form of enforcement where a judgement debtor may not own high value goods or property.
The obvious disadvantage is however, that the Courts tend to order only relatively small amounts to be deducted from the judgement debtor’s monthly wage. Unless the judgement debt is small or the judgement debtor is a high earner, it is likely that an Attachment of Earnings Order would take many years to pay off a judgement debt.
Naturally once again this method of enforcement is only appropriate for the enforcement of money judgements.
In part two, we will be looking at the following enforcement options:
- Third Party Debt Orders;
- Orders for Committal;and