i've got my judgment what's next? factsheet
 
If a court has decided that someone must pay you an amount of money then this means you have obtained a judgment against the other party in the proceedings, but it’s not an automatic process that you will now be paid.

Instead the court leaves it to the judgment creditor and those advising him or her to take the next step. It may be that you can negotiate with the judgment debtor to pay you, because having a judgment against a person or business, does put you as the judgment creditor in a stronger position. You can use the fact that if payment is made within one month of the date of the judgment, then the judgment will not be recorded against the judgment debtor for a full six years (even if they subsequently pay) which means you get your money and they keep their credit score clean. For more information about this visit www.trustonline.org.uk.

But in thousands of cases many judgment debtors are not persuaded to pay and won’t pay until the judgment creditor actually begins another court application to compel payment. This is called “enforcement”. If you are at this stage, or if you are advising people with judgments on how to compel payment this factsheet is designed to set out the various options. If you are an advisor for someone with a judgment debt that they want to enforce we also recommend the purchase of Claire Sandbrook’s book, “Enforcement of a Judgment” which is published by Sweet & Maxwell and can be purchased by clicking this link You may be interested to know that all the royalties from Claire’s books go to the charity she set up to help people affected by enforcement action – visit www.sherbetfoundation.com.

In simple terms you can enforce your judgment by asking the court for any of the following:
  • a High Court Writ of Fi Fa (which means instructing High Court Enforcement Officers to collect payment or sell the debtor’s goods at auction);
  • a County Court warrant of execution (which means instructing county court bailiffs to collect payment or sell the debtor’s goods at auction);
  • an Attachment of Earnings Order (which means the court orders deductions are made automatically from the judgment debtor’s salary);
  • a Third Party Debt Order (which freezes money in the judgment debtor’s bank account); or
  • a Charging Order (which secures your judgment debt against property owned by the judgment debtor – and works in the same sort of way to a mortgage so that when the property is sold you get paid – provided there is enough money of course!)
With these options in mind we can help you decide on the most appropriate method or methods to choose to compel your judgment debtor to pay you. It’s all about turning your judgment into cash from this point on.

However just as there is no automatic right to get your money back from the court, there is no such thing as an automatic right to get your money back even if you use one of these options. Enforcing a judgment is still a gamble. You can improve your odds of getting paid by choosing the right method of enforcement based on the best information you have about the judgment debtor’s financial situation.

At Shergroup Legal we can certainly improve your odds of winning but sometimes people just don’t have the money or any assets to give you the necessary leverage to compel them to pay you. We will ask you to make an investment in a court fee and a fixed price management fee for our time in helping you. These fees are payable regardless of whether you end up getting paid.

The big thing to remember is that we have to keep reminding you that enforcement can be a gamble. We can improve your odds of winning what you are owed in a number of ways but sometimes people just don't have the money or any assets to give you the necessary leverage to compel them to pay you.

We will ask you to make an investment in a court fee and a fixed price management fee for our time in helping you. These fees are payable regardless of whether you end up getting paid. To take your next step you have the following options:

You can contact our friendly legal team for a no-obligation chat on your case and seek their advice on what to do next
If you know what you need to do please click on one of the options below: Don't see what you need?
Just call us on

+44 (0)845 890 9200

And we will soon have you on the right track!

More about your enforcement options

Instructing a High Court Enforcement Officer to collect payment or sell goods at auction

The benefit for you of using this method of enforcement is that High Court Enforcement Officers are in our view more motivated to collect what is outstanding as they earn their fees and commission out of what is collected. So for that reason alone if you have a CCJ or a High Court Judgment over £600 we can arrange for this to be enforced for you using our sister brand, "Shergroup Enforcement"

High Court Enforcement Officers are instructed to visit the judgment debtor's address and seize goods to the value of your judgment debt along with costs, interest at 8% on your judgment debt and their own fees.

The judgment debtor will not be aware of the time of that visit, but once visited will be served with court paperwork and encouraged to pay as soon as possible to avoid further charges being incurred. The judgment debtor pays the cost of the High Court Enforcement Officer’s actions through fees which can be reviewed by the court at any time.

You pay a fixed amount to instruct Shergroup Legal and then court fees to issue the instruction which takes the form of a High Court Writ of Fieri Facias (which is Latin for “to cause to be made of the goods”). Literally the idea behind this enforcement measure is that the threat of selling goods at auction will be enough to get the debtor to pay – as debtors don’t like seeing their goods sold to pay their debts.

If the judgment debtor pays you will get back your original investment of the court fee.

The option works on anything from second hand cars to 767 aircraft – and everything in between. Shergroup Enforcement are experts in their field and once the High Court Enforcement Officer has reported back on what goods have been seized, the Shergroup Enforcement team will begin negotiating for either
  • payment in full
  • a satisfactory payment plan
  • a strategy to sell the goods for the best possible price
In about 30% of cases sent to Shergroup Enforcement payment is achieved and in the remaining 70% of cases it can be shown why payment wasn’t possible – often because there were no goods available, or the goods belonged to someone else, or the judgment debtor had become insolvent.

If you decide to instruct us in this method of enforcement we offer fixed pricing and a standard service level in which we manage the enforcement process for you and or your advisor.

You can watch our easy to view film "Agent Shergroup" to give you more insight on how the process works.

The Shergroup Legal team will be happy to discuss this option with you and give you more information. Please call them on +44 (0)845 890 9200 for a free consultation.

Resources for this method of enforcement:

Online Instruction Form
Video: Shergroup High Court Enforcement – Agent Shergroup
Film : Shergroup Enforcement – watch our officers in action

Instructing a County Court Bailiff to collect payment or sell goods at auction

A warrant of execution gives a county court bailiff the authority to visit the debtor’s home or business to collect the money. However unlike a High Court Enforcement Officer, county court bailiffs are not paid by results, and, in our opinion, are not as motivated to collect the outstanding judgment debt as their High Court counterparts.

However where the judgment debt is under £600 or is regulated by consumer credit legislation we do on occasion have to use the county court bailiff system. Using our knowledge of enforcement we will therefore ensure that we achieve the most for you from this method of enforcement.

The Shergroup Legal team will be happy to discuss this option with you and give you more information. Please call them on +44 (0)845 890 9200 for a free consultation.

Resources for this method of enforcement:

Online Instruction Form
Film: A 'warrant of execution' - what happens?
Alternative Service: Shergroup Enforcement – watch our officers in action

An application for an Attachment of Earnings Order (making deductions from salary)

The court can make an attachment of earnings order compelling the employer of your judgment debtor to automatically make deductions from the judgment debtor’s salary.

We can manage this application for you by filling in the forms, lodging them with the court, managing the process and reporting to you on progress.

The court will tell the debtor if they plan to send an order to their employer. The court will send the debtor a form for replying to the application. The debtor will have to fill out this form with details of their income and spending. As this can be one of the most frustrating issues with this enforcement option, Shergroup Legal takes care of the correspondence with the court and your judgment debtor.

The debtor has options once the application is under way. He or she can:
  • pay all the money owed straightaway
  • ask for the order to be stopped, and offer to make regular payments
If the attachment of earnings order goes ahead the court works out how much can be automatically deducted after paying for essential items like rent, food and bills.

Sometimes the debtor already has an attachment of earnings order running against them and is making payments to one or more creditors. If that is the case, the court can choose to combine the orders to make a 'consolidated' order. The court splits the debtor’s payment between all the creditors and charges £1 per payment for expenses. The debtor and any of the creditors can also apply for a 'consolidated' order. Again Shergroup Legal can manage this aspect of the enforcement process for you and keep you fully in the picture on the entire set up of the judgment debtor’s situation.

The Shergroup Legal team will be happy to discuss this option with you and give you more information. Please call them on +44 (0)845 890 9200 for a free consultation.

Resources for this method of enforcement:

Online Instruction Form

A Third Party Debt Order (freezing money in the judgment debtor’s bank account)


Third part debt orders can be served on anyone who owes money to a debtor, or holds money on their behalf. They are usually used to freeze bank or building society accounts but can also be made to compelled your judgment debtor’s solicitor, or own debtor, to pay to you what they owe the judgment debtor. This can be quite useful for example if a judgment debtor has money held with a solicitor in the solicitor’s client account, and you want that money to pay your judgment debt.

Shergroup Legal will manage the entire process for you so that all the technicalities are taken care of.

The debtor will be required to attend a hearing and send written objections to the court and to you if they don’t agree with the order being made. If the debtor’s bank account is frozen, they can apply to any county court for a hardship payment although this, in our experience, rarely happens.

A judge will decide if money in the frozen account should be used to pay the debt.

Resources for this method of enforcement:

Online Instruction Form
Video: what is a third party debt order hearing?

Charging Order (securing your judgment debt against property owned by the judgment debt – similar to a mortgage)

Charging Orders secure the judgment debt over property or shares, so they are not an instant way to compel a judgment debtor to pay you.

That said, they are an effective enforcement method, particularly if combined with a visit from a High Court Enforcement Officer, so that the debtor’s goods are seized and the judgment debt is secured on any available property. This concurrent use of enforcement procedures is a tactic which the Shergroup Legal team can do for you.

At their simplest, a charging order application consists of a creditor asking the court to make an order granting a charge over the debtor’s property or shares, in the amount they owe.

If the property or shares are sold the debtor will need to pay the charge before getting the proceeds from the sale.

A charging order does not mean the debtor has to the property or shares although if the Shergroup Legal team think there are the necessary grounds for making such an application, they will make the necessary application to the court for an order forcing the sale. We should say these orders are rare – only 460 such orders were made in 2012 – but in the right situation the court may be persuaded that a sale is required. As you might expect the judgment debtor can oppose such an order being made.

The Shergroup Legal team will be happy to discuss this enforcement option with you and give you more information. Please call them on +44 (0)845 890 9200 for a free consultation.

Resources for this method of enforcement:

Online Instruction Form
Video: what is a charging order hearing?

Not sure what to do? Here are some more options...

You can check out what income and expenditure and assets and liabilities your debtor has by applying to the Court for an “order to obtain information”.

We don’t usually recommend this because we can obtain similar information for you without the cost of a full application to the court. Our experience shows the application can be very frustrating for our client and it rarely elicits the quality of information needed to decide on the next step. Instead if we consider you need more information about your debtor’s assets either:

before starting your claim; or
after you have got your judgment

we encourage you to use our related Shergroup Enforcement service using specially trained Officers who are looking for information from the debtor about his or her assets.These Officers use a standard questionnaire and interview the debtor at his or her address to find out their real situation. We then publish our report online for you and we can give you recommendations on your next enforcement step.

The initial investment is significantly less than an application for an order to obtain information and we aim to get the initial report to you within 14 days of your instruction.

That said, orders to obtain information do have a place in the enforcement armory of a judgment creditor. The application does have some teeth in that ultimately the court can impose sanctions on a judgment debtor who refuses to give information about his or her (or in the case of a company “its”) financial situation.

If you decide to go down this route we can help you with making the application to the court. Just complete our Order to Obtain Information Application Form and we will do the rest.

An Order to Obtain Information is not a form of enforcement which will get you your money. Instead you should view it as a way of getting information from your ‘judgment debtor’ which will help you decide whether it is worthwhile taking any further action; and if so, what action you should take.

If you decide you want to try this approach, the judgment debtor will be ordered to come to the court to be questioned, on oath, by a court officer. The sort of information which can be obtained includes:
  • the current employment status of the debtor – which may point to making an attachment of earnings application;
  • and if appropriate, details of employer and wages or salary;
  • details of the debtor’s dependents and outgoings paid from income;
  • details of any additional income;
  • details of any property owned (house, car, caravan, etc.), which may have a saleable value – which may lead to a decision to apply for a charging order;
  • details of any bank or building society accounts and the balances in them – which may lead to starting a third party debt order application.
The questions the court officer will ask the judgment debtor are set out in on a standard questionnaire being court form EX140 and which is called a “Record of Examination”. A copy of the questionnaire can be downloaded from the HMTCS website.

As always, the Shergroup Legal team will be happy to discuss this enforcement option with you and give you more information. Please call them on +44 (0)845 890 9200 for a free consultation.

Resources for this method of enforcement:

Online Instruction Form
Video : What is an 'order to obtain information' appointment?
 
 
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