Enforcement of Judgment Debts
If you have a judgment debt against an individual or a business that has not been paid, then we can assist you in enforcing that judgment and will talk you through the most suitable options available to you in the circumstances.
Likewise, if someone has obtained a judgment debt against you and is enforcing that judgment, we can assist you.
We can help you to apply to vary that judgment in order to have it payable by more manageable instalments or even set it aside if there is a good reason why you did not respond to the claim when it was sent to you. Whatever the circumstances, it is important that when you find out that someone has obtained a judgment against you, you act quickly to deal with this, as failing to do so quickly can cause problems.
Charging orders and orders for sale
If a judgment debtor owns a property, often the first thing that they will do is look to secure that judgment debt against the equity in a property.
When that property is sold, then the judgment creditor should be able to recover the sum secured against the property, subject to the amount of equity in it.
Depending on the size of the debt and the circumstances of the debtor, it is possible to apply to court to obtain a court order forcing the debtor to sell their property and use the proceeds of sale to pay their creditors.
Before making this application, the creditor is normally expected to have made an application for an order for the debtor to attend court to answer questions about his or her assets or liabilities. This application is mentioned in a bit more detail below.
It is also possible to obtain a charging order over shares that are owned by a judgment debtor.
Hill & Abbott can assist you in making these applications.
If you have received an application of this nature, then you need to act quickly and we suggest that you give us a call right away to see whether or not we can help you.
Third party debt orders
If you are aware that a judgment debtor is owed money from a third party, it is possible to apply to court for an order forcing that third party to hand over money to you instead of the debtor.
The usual targets of such an application are a debtor’s bank account or a solicitor’s client account, both of which may contain funds which are owed to the debtor.
If such an application is made, the bank is likely to freeze the debtor’s account up to the value of the claim.
It is also possible to intercept rental payments to the debtor.
We can assist you to make these applications or respond to them. In particular, if your bank account has been frozen and you need money to live, we can help you apply for a ‘hardship’ payment.
Attachment of earnings orders
If you have an unpaid judgment debt against an individual, it is possible to apply to court for an order obliging the debtor’s employer to pay you a proportion of his or her wages towards the debt.
We can help you to make this application if it is appropriate.
If you have had an attachment of earnings order served on you, we can advise you about how to respond and in particular, how to prove what you can afford to pay.
This option is not available if the debtor is a company, unemployed, self-employed or in the armed forces.
Bailiffs and High Court Enforcement Officers
An application to court can be made to enforce a judgment debt with the use of Bailiffs and High Court Enforcement Officers.
They have authority to take possession of goods belonging to the judgment debtor and ultimately sell them in order to pay you what you are owed.
Bailiffs and High Court Enforcement Officers will normally only charge a nominal ‘abortive’ fee if they are unable to recover any money for you.
If they manage to recover something, then then will add their fees to the sum that you are owed and take this first from the money that they are able to recover from the debtor or from the sale of the debtor’s possessions.
We can help you to make this application. Equally, if you are being pursued by Bailiffs and High Court Enforcement Officers, we can advise you about how to deal with this.
Orders to attend court for questioning
If you are unsure about what assets a judgment debtor has to pay a debt, then it is possible to apply to court for an order which obliges the debtor to attend court and answer questions under oath about his or her assets and liabilities.
This application can also be made against a company director, who will be obliged to attend court to explain what assets and liabilities the debtor company has.
In either case, the debtor is obliged to provide supporting documentation, such as recent bank statements or mortgage redemption statements.
Additionally, if a judgment creditor has reason to believe that assets or income is being hidden, there is scope to ask specific questions about this and request documentation relating to those assets, in addition to the standard questions which are asked.
This application can be of assistance in deciding what enforcement methods above are appropriate in the circumstances. Normally, the court expects a creditor to make this application before making an application to sell the debtor’s property, as mentioned above.
Bankruptcy and corporate insolvency
If it is the case that the debtor has no assets to pay a judgment debt, then sometimes the only option is to apply to the court to make that individual bankrupt or put a debtor company into liquidation.
This route is for the benefit of all of the unpaid creditors and if a company is put into liquidation or an individual made bankrupt, normally an unsecured creditor will have to share what assets there are (if any) with the other unsecured creditors.
We can advise you in respect of appropriate insolvency procedures that may be available to you as a creditor. We can also advise debtors that may be facing bankruptcy or is their company insolvent.