The overall objective of those who bring a money claim, is to recover their money from their opponent (‘the Defendant’), but unfortunately obtaining the judgment is only the first step to achieving this objective.
If you successfully obtain judgment, the Court order will specify the amount awarded and when the Defendant is required to pay the money by.
What if the Defendant does not pay?
If the Defendant does not pay you in accordance with the Court order, you will need to take steps to enforce the judgment. The Court does not automatically enforce a judgment or order and it is for the party with the benefit of the judgment (usually the Claimant, referred to as the judgment creditor) to take enforcement action.
When do I need to enforce the judgment by?
Section 24 of the Limitation Act 1980 gives a period of 6 years for the enforcement of a judgment. If you seek to enforce after 6 years you may be barred from doing so unless the Court gives you permission. For the Court’s permission, you would need to demonstrate and evidence a very valid reason why enforcement was not undertaken within the 6-year period.
How do I enforce a money judgment?
There are various methods of enforcement that can be used to enforce a money judgment.
The most common methods used are Charging Orders, Attachment of Earnings Orders, Third Party Debt Orders, taking control of goods and/or insolvency proceedings.
The most suitable enforcement method will depend, to a large extent, on the circumstances of the judgment debtor. For example, if the debtor is not employed then, an Attachment of Earnings Order where a portion of the debtor’s earnings are deducted by their employer and paid to the judgment creditor will not be a viable option. It would also be unwise to seek to take control of a debtor’s goods to settle the judgment debt if the debtor does not have goods of adequate value covering the judgment debt.
Another factor to consider when deciding upon the best enforcement method is the value of the judgment debt. If the debtor owes £5,000 or more, or is a company and owes £750 or more, the serving of a statutory demand is one option available to a judgment creditor. If the individual or company does not settle the debt then a judgment creditor can apply to make the individual debtor bankrupt or to wind the company up.
This article is not a definitive statement of the law. It is designed as a free update on the law at the time of publishing. It is not a substitute for legal advice on specific facts and circumstances. BakerLaw LLP and/or the writer accepts no liability or responsibility for reliance on this article and recommends that you seek independent legal advice on your specific circumstances prior to taking any steps.