If you are owed money by an individual, the law provides that you can take action in trying to recover that debt by firstly issuing a claim and thereafter obtaining Judgment. The Judgment allows the Court to order that the debtor must repay all monies owed and if no response is received from the debtor, the Judgment can then be ‘enforced’ by a number of enforcement procedures that are available. These include:
Order for Debtor to Attend Court for Questioning
Whilst this enforcement method does not require the debtor to make a payment, an order is given that the debtor must attend court to answer formal questions focusing on their current income and expenditure and also whether a repayment plan can be proposed.
If a payment plan is proposed and accepted, the court can create a variation order detailing the agreement. If a plan is not put forth then the information obtained may allow you to enforce the debt through a different method.
Attachment of Earnings
If you have knowledge of the debtor’s employer then it is possible to do an application for an attachment of earnings. Here, a proportion of the debtor’s salary will be deducted by their employer each month until the Judgment debt is repaid. However, it must be noted that an Attachment of Earnings Order cannot be made against a debtor who is self-employed.
When enforcing a Judgment, a Charging Order can be secured against any property a debtor owns. If a property is jointly owned by the debtor, then a charge will be made on their share of the property, rather than the property as a whole. Unfortunately, however, a Charging Order does not guarantee immediate payment of the debt as payment is usually only received if the debtor re-mortgages or the property is sold.
If you are uncertain whether a debtor owns their property then it is possible to run a search of the land registry documents to see who the legal owner is.
High Court Enforcement
Here, an application is made for a High Court Writ which allows an enforcement officer to seize goods belonging to the debtor to the monetary value of the Judgment. Once goods have been seized, they can then be sold so that the debt is repaid. The High Court enforcement officers will also recover their fees from the debtor and so have the incentive to make sure their attendance at the debtor’s residence is successful. This method of enforcement is for debts of a higher monetary value.
County Court Bailiff
Much like the High Court Writ, an application can be made to the County Court to request that a bailiff attend a debtor’s property. Here a bailiff will also recover items to the value of the Judgment obtained. This service is for debts of a lower monetary value.
At Clark Willis we recognise that the prospect of any civil enforcement action may be daunting. We are here to support and represent you in your journey to recover what is rightfully yours. If you require advice or assistance in relation to a bad debt or enforcement matter then please contact our dedicated civil team to discuss your options on 01325 281111.