Community Fee Enforcement Records
I have a judgment but the defendant has not paid – What do I do?
How can I get my money after judgment?
If a court has decided that someone must pay you an amount of money (you have ‘obtained judgment against the defendant’) and you have not received a payment, the details below may help you decide what to do next.
The court will not enforce the judgment unless we ask it to.
You can try and get your money (called ‘enforcing your judgment’) by asking the court for any of the following:
- a Warrant of Execution;
- an Attachment of Earnings Order;
- a Third Party Debt Order; or
- a Charging Order.
Below, we set out short descriptions of each of these methods of enforcement.
A fee is payable for any action you take and the Court will add the fee to the money the defendant already owes you.
How do I find out if the defendant has any other judgments?
You can search the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines to see if the defendant has any outstanding or previous judgments or fines. Judgments are retained on the register for six years, fines for five years. A request to search must be made to the Registrar.
You will have to pay a fee for each name you want to search for.
You can contact the Registrar, or apply for a search online at www.trustonline.org.uk or by writing to:
Registry Trust Ltd, 153 – 157 Cleveland Street, London, W1T 6QW – Telephone 020 7380 0133
Warrant of Execution
A Warrant of Execution gives court bailiffs the authority to take goods from the defendant’s home or business. Bailiffs will try to either:
- collect the money you are owed; or
- take goods to sell at auction.
You cannot usually ask the county court to issue a warrant if the amount you want the bailiff to collect is more than £5,000 made under the Consumer Credit Act 1974. However, you can ask an Enforcement Officer (through the High Court) to try to collect the money you are owed or to remove goods.
Bailiffs cannot always remove and sell the defendant’s goods. For example, they cannot remove essential household items and tradesman’s tools or goods subject to hire purchase or rental agreements. The bailiff will not take the defendant’s goods if they are not worth enough to pay the warrant after the costs of taking and selling the goods. Goods sold at auction often raise only a fraction of their original value. The defendant’s goods may also already have been seized by bailiffs acting under another warrant.
Third Party Debt Order.
A Third Party Debt Order is usually made to stop the defendant taking money out of his or her bank or building society account. The money you are owed is paid to you from the account.
A third party debt order can also be sent to anyone who owes the defendant money. If the defendant has a bank or building society account, the bank or building society will freeze the account when it receives the order from the court. If the account is overdrawn on the day the bank or building society receives your order, you cannot be paid from the account. The defendant will know about the order and may stop paying money into the account.
A Charging Order prevents the defendant from selling their assets in England and Wales (such as property, land or investments) without paying what is owed to you. You will not get your money until the defendant sells their assets.
In some circumstances however, you may be able to ask the court for an order to force them to sell their assets.
Which procedure should I choose?
As you can see, each way of enforcing your judgment is aimed at a different aspect of the defendant’s assets. That is:
- goods owned (warrant of execution);
- wages or salary (attachment of earnings order);
- savings (third party debt order); or
- assets (charging order).
Once instructed, we will be able to assist you with your choice of enforcement procedure. For example, if the defendant is unemployed or self-employed, you would be wasting your time and money asking for an attachment of earnings order. But if the defendant has money in a bank account, a third party debt order might be suitable.
What can I do if I have no information about the defendant’s finances?
If the defendant admitted the claim and made an offer to pay before the judgment was made, you will already know something about the defendant’s finances.
But if you only know a little about the defendant’s financial situation, you may be able to apply to have the Defendant examined in Court under oath.
An order to obtain information is not a method of enforcing your judgment. It is a way of finding out about the defendant’s income, assets and spending. This information can help you decide:
- whether the defendant can pay you; and
- which method is most likely to get you your money.
You will have to pay a fee for an order to obtain information and the court will add the fee to the money the defendant already owes you.