Stage 3: Enforcement – Debt Recovery
There are various ways to enforce payment of a judgment debt, but success will largely depend on:
- What information is known about the debtor
- The debtor’s current circumstances
- Whether the debtor is a limited company or an individual
The main methods are:
Writ/warrant of control/execution
If a judgment has been obtained a warrant of execution can be applied for regardless of whether:
- Any recovery made depends on the debtor’s ability to pay
- There are any assets that may be seized
- A repayment agreement has been entered into
Enforcement of Judgment by Warrant or High Court Execution:
Debt value £600 to £10,000: £264 (Inc VAT) to £396 (Inc VAT)
Timescales: This typically takes from 8-12 weeks; additional charges may apply if we need to enter into correspondence about the enforcement, in which case the charges will be based on our hourly rate which we will set out in a letter to you
High Court Enforcement Officer (for debts over £600)/County Court Bailiff (for debts up to £5000)
Enforcement Agents have the power to seize and sell the debtor’s goods to cover the amount of the debt, however they only have right of peaceful entry. They will try to contact the debtor to allow them an opportunity to pay the debt, often by instalments.
Timescales: This typically takes from 3-12 weeks; additional charges may apply if we need to enter into correspondence about the enforcement, in which case the charges will be based on our hourly rate which we will set out in a letter to you.
This process enables a judgment creditor to secure payment of the judgment debt upon any equity in a debtor’s property. If a Charging Order is granted, the judgment creditor can register a charge over the debtor’s property with the Land Registry so that when the debtor eventually sells the property or there is a change in title, the judgment creditor should get paid provided there is sufficient equity.
Timescales: Once the application has been made to court an interim charging order can sometimes be obtained within 2-4 weeks, and a final charging order within a further 4-8 weeks (if not contested). However the timescale can vary depending on whether an objection is filed by the debtor or if the court lists the case for a hearing.
Attachment of Earnings
If the judgment debtor is employed, an Attachment of Earnings order can be made against wages, salaries, and fees (but not against self-employed income). This order requires an employer to make regular deductions from the judgment debtor’s earnings and make payments into court in order to satisfy the judgment debt.
Timescales: It can typically take from 6 weeks to 4 months from the application being issued by the court to obtain an Attachment of Earnings Order, depending on the response of the debtor and employer.
Third Party Debt Order
If you know that the debtor has money held by a third party, you can make an application to the court to prevent the debtor’s access to that money and have it paid direct to you. The most common application of this method is against the bank account of the judgment debtor. A Third Party Debt Order requires the third party to pay the cash owed to the judgment debtor direct to the judgment creditor in order to satisfy the judgment debt.
Timescales: A third party debt order can sometimes be obtained within about 8-12 weeks of the application being issued by the court.
Disbursements/Fees payable on enforcement:
Our fees include:
- Additional credit checks/insolvency searches
- Advising you on your options if the debtor responds and next steps if the debtor fails to respond
Our fees do not include:
- Court fees
- Additional disbursement costs
Fixed costs together with statutory or contractual interest/costs are all added to the claim to be paid by debtor and credited to you in full when payment received.
Commercial debt interest and compensation recovery costs may be payable by the debtor under The Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998
Other enforcement methods are available and separate advice (including cost) will be given as and when the occasion arises.
The above information is applicable to commercial debts only, for non-commercial debt recoveries contact us for details.
Terhi Sygrove is a debt recovery specialist and head of the debt recovery department at Nottingham-based law firm Rotheras Solicitors.
Paige Regardsoe is an Associate Solicitor in our Dispute Resolution department and is based at our Lace Market office.
Susan White is a Senior Paralegal in Rotheras Debt Recovery and Family Law department.
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