Collections via the county court
If you decide to pursue a claim through the county court we are able to issue proceedings on your behalf. If your claim is successful, you will obtain a county court judgment requiring the debtor to make payment to you. In such cases the person who owes you money is referred to as the judgment debtor; you are referred to as the judgment creditor.
If the judgment remains unpaid, we are able to advise you in relation to the variety of methods available to enforce it, including the following…
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 £5,000 (unless it arises out of the Consumer Credit Act agreement). If the debt exceeds £5,000 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’.
Third party debt orders
A third party debt order is usually made to stop the defendant taking money out of his or her bank or building society account. The money you are owed is paid to you from the account. A third party debt order can also be sent to anyone who owes the defendant money.
The organisation or person that is holding the money is referred to as the third party. A third party debt order will prevent the defendant having access to the money until the court makes a decision about whether or not the money should be paid to you.
The money held by the third party must be held solely for the debtor. You cannot, for example, apply for a third party debt order against a joint bank account unless the judgment debt is owed by all the account holders.
This is an order of the court placing a charge on the judgment debtor's property, such as a house or a piece of land. The charge will be the amount you are owed. The charging order will not normally get you your money immediately, but it may safeguard your money for the future. If the judgment debtor owns stocks or shares or has a fund or money in court, the court can also put a charge on these in much the same way as on property.
This can be done whether the defendant owns the property in their 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.
Attachment of earnings orders
An attachment of earnings order is a method by which money will be stopped from a defendant's wages to pay a debt and as such will only help if the defendant is in paid employment. 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, although other options are available.
Order to obtain information
Whist not a method of enforcement, this process will give you more information about the debtor and how best to enforce judgment after their financial means have been subject to an examination by an Officer of the County Court.
In some cases, where the debt exceeds £5,000, insolvency proceedings may be more effective than county court proceedings in recovering the money which is owed to you.
Our extensive knowledge and experience of insolvency procedures and the relevant legislation allows us to advise you as to the best possible use of the insolvency process to maximise your chances of recovery and complete all the necessary forms on your behalf.
A statutory demand is a formal legal document requiring a debtor to pay off an outstanding debt either by instalments or a lump sum or to secure it against a property. If the debtor does not comply with the demand within 21 days, the creditor may commence bankruptcy proceedings.
A bankruptcy petition can be presented to the court where a debtor fails to comply with a statutory demand, or where execution or other process on a judgment has been returned unsatisfied in whole or in part, and if a sheriff or bailiff acting on a court judgment has been unable to seize enough assets to clear the debt.
We are able to offer a comprehensive bankruptcy service including:
- Drafting and presenting the bankruptcy petition
- Serving petitions
- Arranging representation at hearings
- Appointment of an Insolvency Practitioner
However, the presentation of a petition can sometimes be counterproductive and may lead to an actual bankruptcy order, even if the debtor offers to pay your debt, which is not necessarily the best or desired result.
It is vitally important that you take advice beforehand. If a petition is issued against a debtor and a bankruptcy order is made, the estate of the debtor is distributed to all its creditors. However, if the debtor has no assets it can often be the case there will be nothing left for the unsecured creditors.
Further, the court will strongly criticise (and punish by a costs order) a creditor seeking to gain a tactical advantage by commencing or threatening bankruptcy proceedings in the wrong circumstances.
We have extensive insolvency experience and with the assistance of our associated company, Portland Business & Financial Solutions, we are able to offer professional advice as to the suitability of presenting a bankruptcy petition.