Once you have obtained a County Court Judgement against a debtor (Please see last month’s article entitled Debt Recovery – Going Legal) one of the most frustrating things that can happen is that they still refuse to pay and you are still out of pocket.
Fortunately, there are various remedies available to a creditor to enforce their judgement, and this month we look at some of the most commons ways to put pressure on a debtor to obtain your money.
Employ an Enforcement Officer
One option is to employ an enforcement officer to enforce the debt on your behalf. They will apply for a Writ of Control which is a document authorising them to attend a debtors premises and collect money and or goods to the value of the debt. There are two types of enforcement officers – one in the High Court, often called Sheriffs, and the other in the County Courts who are known as bailiffs. Any debt over £600 can be enforced in the High Court and enforcement here tends to be more effective as the enforcement officers are private companies who get paid on commission. There is a fee to apply for the Writ, which is reclaimable from the debtor as are the Enforcement Officer’s charges. If enforcement is unsuccessful, there is a nominal compliance fee. This method of enforcement relies on the debtor having goods in his own name, or jointly with others. Anything that can proved as belonging to anyone else cannot be seized and if they are taken by mistake the owner can apply to the court for their return.
If the debtor has property then this method may be effective as it places a charge on the debtor’s property, essentially meaning you will be paid when it is sold. A charging order requires a court order, so there will be a court fee payable. However, the disadvantage is that you may have to wait many years until you reclaim your money (when the property is sold), as there is no automatic right to sale. Forcing a sale, a separate process, is unlikely to be successful unless the debt is substantial.
If the debtor is employed and you know their employment details, then you can apply for an attachment order. This will then require a proportion of the debtor’s salary to be paid to the court who, after payment of a fee, pays you the rest.
Third Party Debt Orders
If you know the debtors bank details, you could apply for a Third Party Debt Order, which freezes the money in their bank account. The order only operates on the day of service, so serving the order on the debtor’s bank just before pay day is usually very effective. The danger however, is that there is no money in the debtor’s bank account which means no money can be recovered.
A final option is to serve a Statutory Demand, which is the first step towards making the debtor bankrupt (for an individual) or insolvent (for a company). However, the process can be expensive and there is no guarantee that you will recover your money. Often the best use of a Statutory Demand is the threat of insolvency or bankruptcy which can be enough to persuade the debtor to pay if they want to avoid such proceedings.
Why not use our no-obligation fixed fee meeting priced at just £95 plus VAT to discuss your options with our Litigation Solicitor, Justin Sadler. For more information, or to book a meeting please call 01189589711 or e-mail [email protected]