attachment of earnings factsheet
If the judgment debtor is employed but has no other assets then asking the court to deduct what you are owed from the debtor’s wages or salary often the most effective method of enforcement.

Whilst the order can be made against a salary or wages, it can’t be made against a self-employed person as the order requires an employer to regularly make deductions from the judgment debtor's salary and make payments into the court in order to satisfy the judgment debt.

So you can’t ask for an attachment of earnings order if the defendant is:
  • unemployed or self-employed;
  • a firm or a limited company;
  • in the army, navy or air force; or
  • a merchant seaman.
If you attempt to pursue someone who has no ‘earnings’ by way of an Attachment of Earnings Order then your application will be thrown out and you will have wasted your money. The key information you require, therefore, to ensure the best chance of success for this method of enforcement is the debtor’s employment details.

There are also special arrangements for getting money from someone in the armed forces or a merchant seaman and we can help with these situations if that applies to you so please call us if you are faced with that situation).

At Shergroup Legal we can assist you in making an application for an Attachment of Earnings order. All you have to do is fill in our online application form which follows the formal court based form.

Have the details of your judgment to hand when you do this so you can complete the form directly from the court’s form of judgment. The information required to complete the application is fairly basic and should be readily available – you will require your claim number and details of the amounts you are owed, including any interest and costs you are owed; the name and address of the defendant; the name and address of the defendant’s employer; and any other information you feel may be relevant to your application. You can pay the fees online as well.

Once you have done this we will take care of making the application for you and managing your case using our related Shergroup Legal team of advisors.

The application can be straightforward if the debtor co-operates but you can’t guarantee that. The end result is very much dependent upon the cooperation of the debtor and his or her employer in providing information and making the necessary deductions.

Sanctions for non-compliance do exist that can be taken against those who do not co-operate (because they are technically in contempt of court) but this does not guarantee complete co-operation from all parties.

However once made an attachment of earnings order can take one of three forms:

1. A ‘suspended’ order is where the order is not imposed so long as the debtor voluntarily makes payments at the prescribed rate directly to the judgment creditor. Many debtors may prefer this because in this way their employer does not get to find out that they have a judgment against them, whilst some creditors are happier to receive the payment direct rather than via the courts

2. A ‘full’ order is where an order is made by the court and deductions are made by the employer and funneled back to the creditor via the courts

3. A ‘consolidated’ order is where more than one creditor is owed money by a single judgment debtor. In the case of a consolidated order, all the attachment of earnings orders are brought together into one single order and all the creditors are paid out pro-rata from one single deduction taken out by the employer and administered by the courts

There are problems associated with the current attachment of earnings orders structure, although measures are in place to rectify some of those problems – they just need legislation to actually bring them into effect.

Firstly, as the process currently stands the order falls if the debtor changes jobs or becomes unemployed. Although nothing can be done should the debtor become unemployed, scope does now exist for changes to be introduced whereby the debtor will be traced using the HMRC PAYE databases and the order will follow the debtor from his or her old employer to their new employer.

Secondly, the process can be subject to a certain amount of judicial discretion when it comes to imposing how much should be deducted from a person’s wages or salary every week or month. This can lead to inconsistencies. To counteract that, scope now exists for a move towards ‘fixed tables’ that will be used to calculate the amount that should be deducted.

There reforms are contained within Sections 91 and 92 of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 but are still awaiting implementation.

A Shergroup Legal Advisor will be able to help you on all these matters so for more information contact Shergroup today on

+44 (0)845 890 9200

Resources for this method of enforcement:
Online Instruction Form