Paying a Judgment Debt by Instalments
When a judgment is entered for a debt, the whole amount due – the original debt plus any additional interest and costs – will have to be paid within 28 days. If the debt is not paid within 28 days the judgment will be entered on the Register of County Court Judgments and the claimant will be entitled to take steps to enforce it.
Asking to Pay a Judgment Debt by InstalmentsIf a judgment is entered against a defendant, whether after an admission or a trial, it is open to the defendant to ask to pay the judgment by instalments.
The Response Pack sent out by the court when a claim is issued contains forms on which the defendant can put information about their income and expenditure. If the claim is admitted the defendant can use the admission form to make an offer of monthly instalments. The court will then refer this offer to the claimant. The claimant can either:
- Accept the offer of instalments;
- Ask for higher monthly instalments; or,
- Request that the judgment debt be paid immediately.
How the Court Sets the InstalmentsIf judgment is entered after an admission, and the claimant does not accept the monthly instalments offered by the defendant, the court may list the case for a disposal hearing. This will give both parties the chance to address the court on how and when they think the judgment should be paid. Alternatively, a member of the court staff will examine the defendant’s proposals, the defendant’s financial situation and the claimant’s position before deciding at what rate the judgment should be paid.
In deciding whether a judgment debt should be payable immediately or by instalments the court may take into account a number of factors, including:
- How much the defendant can afford to pay;
- How long the proposed instalments will take to clear the debt;
- The age of the debt;
- The nature of the debt;
- The financial status of the claimant.
When to Pay the Monthly InstalmentsWhen a court orders that a judgment debt is to be paid by monthly instalments the order will state when the first payment is to be made. It is vital that the first payment is made by the date given in the order and that every subsequent payment is made by the same day of each following month.
Where to Make PaymentsPayments should be made directly to the claimant - not to the court who granted the judgment. The defendant should contact the claimant to find out where, and how, the payments are to be made. If the claimant is represented by a solicitor, the solicitor will be able to tell the defendant how to make payments. Proof of each payment should be kept in case there is any future dispute about how much has been paid.
Instalments and Enforcement of the JudgmentIf the court has ordered that a judgment debt is to be paid by instalments, the judgment will still be registered but the claimant will not be able to enforce it so long as the instalments are being paid. In some cases, where the monthly instalments would take a very long time to clear the debt, a court may give permission for the claimant to secure the debt by way of a Charging Order.
If the defendant misses even a single instalment, the claimant will be entitled to apply to the court for enforcement of the whole judgment – not just the missing instalment.