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 your objective.
If you successfully obtain judgment, the order will specify the amount awarded and when the Defendant is 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 and 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 judgement.
The most common methods used are:
- Charging Orders.
This is when the judgment creditor secures the judgment debt by way of a charge over the judgment debtor’s property or land. Once a charging order is obtained, the charging order should be registered against the judgment debtor’s title which will prevent the judgment debtor from selling the property or the land without paying the debt. This method is a slow method of enforcement as either judgment creditor will either need to apply for an order for sale or await for the judgment debtor to sell their property or land.
- Attachment of Earnings Orders
An attachment of earnings order is when a portion of the judgment debtor’s earnings are deducted by their employer and paid to the judgment creditor until the debt is discharged. This method is only available to those judgment debtors who are employed.
- Third Party Debt Orders
This type of enforcement is when there is money of the judgement debtor being held by a third party, for example the bank. The sums held are frozen and the sum to discharge the debt is seized for the benefit of the judgment creditor. This method is useful when the judgement creditor knows the judgment debtor has a bank account where money is paid in to.
- Taking control of goods (writs and warrants of control)
Called a writ of control in the High Court and a warrant of control in the County Court. This method commands an enforcement officer to take control of and sell a judgment debtor’s goods to settle the judgment debt. This is a very popular method but depends on the judgment debtor having goods of adequate value.
- Insolvency Proceedings
If an individual owes you £5,000 or more, or if a company owes you £750 or more, once you have served a statutory demand, if the individual or the company has not settled the debt you can apply to make the individual bankrupt or to wind the company up.
If you are considering bringing an action to recover monies that you are owed, or if you need to enforce a money judgment please do not hesitate to contact Danielle Dyer, a solicitor in our Dispute Resolution Department.
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.