21. Enforcement of Judgements
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Even if a case is won, it is not guaranteed that any judgement obtained will be effected.
Unsurprisingly, there are many unrecovered debts outstanding and a solicitor is therefore required to become familiar with the various ways of enforcing judgements.
A key consideration is the fact that any enforcement measure will incur further costs. Whilst these costs are usually fixed, there is no guarantee that they will eventually be recovered and thus the client may find that they have lost even more money. The risks and benefits of any enforcement measure should therefore be considered in detail with a client who finds themselves in this position.
Interest on Debts
High Court Judgements
Interest can be claimed from the date of the judgement or consent order.
The current interest rate, which is subject to change, is 8%.
County Court Judgements
A county court judgement will also attract interest at 8% per annum -- however this only applies to judgements of £5,000 or above.
Debts below this will not incur any interest unless the Payment of Commercial Debts Act 1998 applies.
A judgement can generally only be enforced for six years before further permission needs to be sought from the Court.
Methods of Enforcement
Writ of Fieri Facias (High Court) or Warrant of Execution (County Court)
This method aims to recover the debt by threatening or actually selling the debtor’s goods.
This may be done in both the High Court and County Court, depending upon where the original judgement was obtained.
Attachment of Earnings
This order forces the debtor’s employer to deduct monies from their earnings and pay them into court.
Due to its nature, this is only relevant to employed debtors.
It can only be used for debt of £50 or more and can only be enforced in the county court.
Third Party Debt Orders
Here, a court may order a third party who either holds money on behalf of the debtor or owes money to them to pay the money to the judgement creditor instead. Such third parties will usually be banks or trade debtors.