Questionnaire: How Should I Get My Money Back?
Once you have obtained a county court judgment, the debtor has thirty days within which to settle the debt in full. There are advantages to this for the debtor, in that the judgement in the county court register will be marked as ‘settled’, but very often the debtor will not pay within this timescale. This leaves you with numerous options for enforcing the debt. Each method of debt recovery costs money and, although it is possible to use more than one method of enforcement at the same time, there is no point pursuing recovery of your debt without knowing something of your debtor’s financial and personal circumstances.
What do You Know About Your Debtor?In order to make a decision on a suitable enforcement method you need to find out whether your debtor owns their own home, and if so, whether they are in employment (self-employed or employed), whether they have any other assets, whether they might have money in a bank account or themselves be owed money by a third party.
Do You Need More Information?If you do not have sufficient information about them, you should consider applying to the court for an Order To Obtain Information. The judgment debtor is required to attend court to answer questions by a court officer (and in limited circumstances a judge) about their financial circumstances.
How Much is the Debt?Some methods of enforcement will be prohibitively expensive. For example it is probably not worth putting a charging order on your judgment debtor’s property to enforce a £200 debt. In any event, a charging order means that you only receive your money back on the sale of the property, and you can only force a sale under certain circumstances.
Does Your Debtor Own Their Home?You can find out whether your debtor owns their own home by undertaking a search at the Land Registry for a small fee (currently £4.) It is also important to note that there may be other charges in priority, such as a mortgage, second mortgage, secured loans etc. In the event that the property is sold, these debts will be settled first.
Is Your Debtor in Employment?If your debtor is employed, you may be able to apply for an Attachment of Earnings Order. Often the threat of having to disclose a CCJ to an employer is sufficient for a debtor to offer repayment of the debt in instalments. However, payments under this method must be affordable and you should find out whether there are any other AEOs in priority.
Does your debtor have assets that are capable of being seized under a warrant of execution?
Items that are not essential for domestic life, or the tools of someone’s trade, can be seized by a bailiff after you obtain a warrant of execution from the county court. However, any items that are subject to a hire purchase agreement cannot normally be seized.
Do You Know Your Debtor’s Bank Details?You may have received a cheque from your debtor in the past, or have had a direct debit or standing order from them. In this case, you may be able to apply for a court order called a Third Party Debt Order. However you must be sure that there is money in the account (you cannot enforce a third party debt order against an overdraft facility, or against a joint account unless both parties are judgment debtors.)
Is Your Debtor Owed Money By Anyone Else?If your debtor is owed money by someone else such as a customer or supplier, you may also be able to obtain an TPDO against these funds.
You can also apply to make your debtor bankrupt, although there are substantial fees involved and there is no guarantee that you will obtain much if any of your judgment amount.