Court Orders & Enforcement in the U.K.
This article covers Court Orders & Enforcement in the U.K. – please note this is only guidance, the article only covers some areas of enforcement and is not a comprehensive list of all enforcement methods in the UK and does not constitute legal advice. We always recommend you seek professional legal advice for any matter rather than rely on published articles.
Not being paid for your product or services can put your business in serious jeopardy. If after attempting to obtain money you are still unsuccessful, you can take the case to court.
Following your court order, claiming the debts you are owed, the next stage is to make sure you get the correct money owed as soon as possible. With the help of our handy guide, here are some of the steps you need to make in order to make sure you get what is owed to you.
What to Do When Making a Payment Request
The court judgment will order the debt to be paid directly to you following the successful claim being made.
In order to make this happen, the first stage is to write and send a letter requesting payment. This letter also serves as a reminder to the person who owes you money of the terms outlined in the court order.
Once a judgment for money is awarded, the defendant is given a period of time, normally 14 days, to pay. If they don’t, you may need to take action to enforce the judgment.
What Action to Take When Payments Are Not Made To You
You may not know about the finances of the debtors, it is possible to ask the courts to question the debtor on their financial situation in order to get payment, this is a vital step to ensure they can afford to pay what is owed.
You can fill out applications independently. You will need to use the following forms for your applications:
As an alternative to this financial questioning you can request a pre-sue report to understand their financial position.
To verify and confirm current residency of an address before litigation use this address confirmation service
Following the application, the court will then order the individual or a representative from the business for questioning.
Enforcing the court order
Once the financial position of the debtor is established, you will then need to decide whether you believe it will be worth applying to court for an enforcement order to take the claim to the next stage.
Some things that are worth considering before applying for the court order are:
- You will need to ensure that you have the extra finances available to pay an additional fee to the court in order to start the action of enforcement.
- Before taking any further enforcement action, in Scotland it is mandatory to issue a Debt Advice and Information package (DAIP) before any enforcement action can be taken.
- The DAIP must be issued by creditors to debtors and be delivered within 48 hours of issuing the charges for payment.
The Types of Enforcement Action in England
There are different laws around the methods of enforcement in England and Scotland.
Warrant of Control for Debt Enforcement
In England, a Warrant of Control is an enforcement method which gives the County Court Bailiff the authority to enter into a property to collect debts that are owed from either businesses or individuals.
With this warrant in place, the Bailiffs are authorised to remove and sell the personal belongings and items to recover the money owed if the debt cannot be paid in cash.
In order to apply for this enforcement, you must complete County Court Form N323 for the Warrant of Control to be issued by the courts.
Debt Enforcement for Individuals
For individual debtors, the courts are able to make an Attachment of Earnings Order. With this in place, the courts are able to direct the employer of the debtor to deduct an agreed amount of money from their employees earnings each time they get paid and send it to you.
They will use Form N337 to apply for this Attachment of Earnings order from the courts.
You will have to inform the court where the debtor currently works, if you want to obtain this employer information an employer trace will locate the details for you.
If it is established that the debtor has assets in the bank, or they, themselves, are owed money from another person, the court is able to issue a Third Party Debt Order.
This is a method of legally enforcing a County Court Judgement or CCJ by getting payments from the party that owes money to your debtor. This is something that is often used by creditors who have been able to obtain the bank account details of debtors.
Form N349 will need to be filled out to apply for a Third Party Debt order from the courts.
High Court Enforcement
Judgments for money, both those awarded in the County Court and the High Court, can be enforced by High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs), who are authorised by the Lord Chancellor and work privately or in private companies.
HCEO’s (High Court Enforcement Officers)work under the authority of a writ of control, issued when a County Court judgment or order is transferred to the High Court for enforcement using form N293A for a court fee of £66 to obtain the writ.
If you have a High Court judgment or order you can request a writ of control using form PF86A along with the £66 court fee for the writ.
HCEO fees are recovered from the judgment debtor when enforcement is successful.
If enforcement is unsuccessful, the judgment creditor only has to pay a Compliance fee. With this in mind it is always advisable to check the current address you have for the subject, as if the HCEO attends an incorrect address the compliance fee will be due
You do not pay any other costs associated with the enforcement of your writ.
You can instruct an HCEO to enforce a Judgment or order for money here
The Types of Enforcement Action Taken in Scotland
Scotland differs slightly from England when it comes to its legal procedures around debt enforcement.
In Scotland, an Attachment is a procedure that gives creditors permission to seize and sell the items and personal belongings of the debtor, much like the Warrant of Control in England.
There are, however, certain additional rules around what creditors can and cannot take from a debtor.
Since an attachment order is executed only over movable property such as cars, it cannot be used on a debtor’s home or land. This means that it also cannot be used against the property contained within the home.
It is, however, able to be used against property that is stored within a business premises, in a storage container or shed, or inside a vehicle. Additional regulations state that they cannot take vehicles worth £3000 or less, or attempt to recover personal belongings within the home, unless a further court order is obtained which authorises this.
A Money Attachment is put in place to allow creditors to seize cash and cheques which are held within the debtor’s business property. This method is particularly useful for when the business operated involves cash handling such as a shop, cafe, or pub.
Finally, an alternative method is an “Arrestment” This allows a creditor to freeze monies in a debtors bank account, or hold money that is due to a debtor which is held by a third party.
If the court is unsatisfied with the agreements, the monies obtained by an arrestment are released to the creditor after 14 weeks.
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Please note this is only general guidance, the article only covers some areas of enforcement and is not a comprehensive list of all enforcement methods in the U.K. and does not constitute legal advice. We always recommend you seek professional legal advice for any matter rather than rely on published articles.