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The County Court Judgment and How it is Enforced

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 18 Apr 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Judgment County Court Debtor Creditor

In many cases getting a judgment against the defendant will not mean that the debt is paid. Although some defendants will pay up as soon as judgment is entered, others will simply ignore it. If a judgment debtor does not pay the money owed, the claimant will have to decide whether to enforce the judgment.

There are several different methods of enforcement: the best method to choose will depend on the circumstances of each case. Once judgment has been entered the claimant can also be known as the judgment creditor and the defendant as the judgment debtor.

Registration of County Court Judgments

County Court Judgments are entered on the Register of County Court Judgments. If the debt is paid within 28 days of the judgment, the debtor is entitled to have it removed from the Register. In practice, judgments are often not registered until the 28-day period has elapsed.

If the judgment allowed the debt to be paid by monthly instalments it will still be registered but the claimant is not entitled to enforce the judgment unless and until the defendant misses an instalment.

Warrants of Execution

If a judgment creditor issues a warrant of execution the county court bailiff will visit the defendant. The bailiff will either collect the money owed or seize goods which can then be sold to satisfy the judgment debt. County courts cannot enforce judgments in this way if the debt owed is more than £5000 (unless it arises out of Consumer Credit Act agreement). If the debt exceeds £5000 enforcement by warrant has to be via the more complicated and expensive High Court procedure.

The bailiffs cannot seize essential household goods or a defendant’s “tools of trade”. There is no guarantee that any goods seized will sell at a price sufficient to cover the debt.

Attachment of Earnings Orders

An attachment of earnings order instructs a debtor’s employer to deduct a regular amount from his wages to put towards the judgment debt. The court will decide on an amount based on the defendant’s income and reasonable expenditure.

This method cannot be used if the defendant is self-employed, unemployed or if the amount owed is less than £50. An attachment of earnings order cannot be made against someone who is in the armed forces.

Third Party Debt Orders

If the defendant has an entitlement to money which is held by a third party, a judgment creditor can apply to the court for an order that this money is frozen. For example, such an application may be made against the debtor’s bank account. The court will then decide whether the money should be paid to the creditor.

A third party debt order cannot be made in respect of money to which someone other than the debtor has an entitlement – such as a joint account where only one account holder is the judgment debtor.

Charging Orders

If the judgment debtor owns property an application can be made to the court for a charge to be put over it. This can be done whether the defendant owns the property in his sole name or with someone else. The effect of a charge is that the debtor will not be able to sell or re-mortgage the property without paying the judgment creditor.

Once a charge is in place, an application can be made for an order forcing the defendant to sell the property. However, the courts are usually reluctant to make such orders in respect of people’s homes.

Fees

Unless the judgment creditor is on a low income or benefits, fees will have to be paid to enforce the debt. If the method is successful the fee can be added to the judgment debt payable by the defendant. However, if the method is not successful the fee will not be refunded by the court and the creditor may find that they are even more out of pocket than they were at the outset.

Is it Worth Enforcing the Judgment?

Whilst the fees for enforcement can, technically, be recovered from the defendant there is a danger that the creditor will simply be wasting their money. If the defendant has numerous unsatisfied county court judgments registered against him it may be unlikely that he will decide to pay this one. The defendant may be insolvent or simply avoiding his debts.

A search can be made at the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines to find out whether the defendant has any other outstanding liabilities. The Register can be searched online but a fee of £8 is payable. A creditor does not have to enforce a judgment immediately – in some cases it may be sensible to wait a couple of years in the hope that the defendant will be back on their feet and more likely to pay.

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[Add a Comment]
Any help or advice would be so appreciated. I am the claimant. The defendant is my former landlord. He made life very difficult while I was resident at his home.I finally fled to a refuge and got the police involved when he made a threat to rape me. He had a harassment pin issued by the police but they were otherwise useless. I made an application to the court to recover the cost of my belongings which he damaged and dispossed of. The cost of all of the belongings was £1600 and i also added on £200 as he failed to return my deposit. I think that in the circumstances he has 'got off' lightly with this amount. I would have liked to have added on interest and compensation but i didn't know how to do it and how to place a monetary value on emotional distress and the anxiety and stress he caused me. He has had the allocated time to respond to my court application and he failed to respond. I believe that I can now request judgement?I don't know what happens from here and what my options are. I was thinking of requesting an attachment of earnings but have discovered that I am unable to do that as he is in the Armed Forces? Please could you advise what my options are in this case? Would I be able to get an enforcement order to seize goods? He has an extremely expensive top of the range Audi converible which is 2017 so almost new and an expensive Suzuki motorbike as well as several very expensive electronic devices such as phones, ipads and computers etc so I think that may be the best option if allowed? I am likely to incur costs trying to enforce this so can I add the costs to the debt owed and also a value of interest and compensation.. This is all a very stressful, hideous nightmare and a minefield so any help and advice would be so gratefully received. This man put me through hell and damaged things which I will never replace, presents and photographs etc. I think that I should be successful in getting some recompense and justice?
Peace - 18-Apr-18 @ 12:37 AM
I have recently entered judgment for a sum owed of £35. This is the issue fee as the defendant did not satisfy the original debt in the time provided so I had to incur a cost and commence litigation. How do you enforce a judgment for less than £50?
Rich - 17-Feb-18 @ 12:28 PM
Hello, Using Money Claims Online, I finally got notice of a 'Judgment Entered Into' against the defendant. Am I now able to enforce the judgment or is there a limitation period, after which I am sent a 'Judgment Issued' if the defendant does not pay up? I would like to know what happens next. Thank you for your time.
Sara - 6-Nov-17 @ 4:56 PM
I have a ccj against me. But the company i owe has dissolved and I carnt get intouch with them. I was paying them monthly but the payments have stopped
jeff - 6-Jun-17 @ 9:15 PM
May - Your Question:
HiI am second defender as I am the owner of business , the case is going to small claims courtI want to represent myself, I need a legal case worker regarding my statement , my statement isready but needs to be proper for giving it to court, how can I found a legal case worker for thiswork as the solicitors are very expensive Thanks for you help

Our Response:
You could consider consulting free organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, who may be able to help. Please see link here for more advice.
AboutSmallClaims - 3-Feb-16 @ 11:59 AM
Hi I am second defender as I am the owner of business , the case is going to small claims court I want to represent myself, I need a legal case worker regarding my statement , my statement is ready but needs to be proper for giving it to court, how can I found a legal case worker for this work as the solicitors are very expensive Thanks for you help
May - 2-Feb-16 @ 8:24 PM
John - Your Question:
I have a garage that has been damaged by water ingress, I alerted the landlord on many occasions but nothing was done, I took the landlord to court and obtained judgement in my favour for the remedial works to be carried out, the remedial works have not been carried out and I now do not know what to do.The landlord is a residents association who own the freehold and has no assets other than the land the property sits on.What can I do now, any advice would be gratefully appreciated. Many Thanks.

Our Response:
If your landlord is in breach of the court order, as specified in the article, you may have to take the matter back to court to have the order enforced. However, before you do this, sometimes either a solicitor's letter or a letter of warning from you about taking this further action, may bring your landlord to their senses.
AboutSmallClaims - 6-Jan-16 @ 11:01 AM
I have a garage that has been damaged by water ingress, I alerted the landlord on many occasions but nothing was done, I took the landlord to court and obtained judgement in my favour for the remedial works to be carried out, the remedial works have not been carried out and I now do not know what to do. The landlord is a residents association who own the freehold and has no assets other than the land the property sits on. What can I do now, any advice would be gratefully appreciated. Many Thanks.
John - 5-Jan-16 @ 1:11 PM
@Bob - you're being very generous towards the defendant, by not causing more pain than necessary, especially if you think they have the funds. As it is less than £5,000, it might be easier to as the county court to issue a warrant of execution, which will enable a bailiff to collect the amount on your behalf. The bailiff will write to the defendant asking for payment and if the defendant does not pay in response to the letter, the bailiff can visit premises where the defendant's assets are kept, take them, and sell them. Although you need to keep in mind that there are certain items the bailiff may not be able to take, especially if they are for a job or business related. However, the letter alone may do the trick to make the defendant pay up. The third party debt order is a bit trickier as the defendant can object to your application through the courts if he/she can prove that it may cause financial hardship. You might also be able to apply through the courts to have it appoint a receiver by way of equitable execution, meaning the receiver will collect amounts due to his/her business income and pay it directly to you. I think it is something that you might want to take a bit of legal advice on as to the best and most comfortable approach for you personally. But as it isn't a large amount most people would probably take the approach to go straight in with the bailiff in order to get the job done.
Adrian - 26-Jan-15 @ 10:51 AM
I recently won a small claims case, as a result of which the (self employed small businessman) defendant was ordered to pay me £1,700 by early January.3 weeks on, the money has not been paid, despite the defendant asking for my bank details in order to make the payment, and two reminders from me.I have no doubt that the defendant is relatively affluent and would have little trouble raising the money. There seem to be 2 main sources open to me: a Warrant of Execution, or a 3rd Party Debt Order.I wonder which might be more appropriate/cost effective?For the 3rd Party Order, I have details of the defendant's bank account, but is the entire bank account frozen (a step which might be really damaging to a small business), or just the amount necessary to clear the debt? I actually don't wish to cause the more defendant more pain than is strictly necessary, and both avenues seem quite drastic!So advice would be gratefully received. Thank you.
Bob - 23-Jan-15 @ 6:00 PM
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