It pays to act quickly when enforcing a Judgment


02 March 2020

The recent case of 365 Business Finance Ltd v Bellagio Hospitality WB Ltd is a reminder of the need to act quickly when enforcing a Judgment.  

In the 365 Business Finance Ltd case two different creditors had both obtained Judgments and applied for “writs of control” meaning that separate High Court Enforcement Officers were instructed to visit the debtor and seize and sell the debtor’s goods to satisfy the Judgments. An Enforcement Officer attended on behalf of the first creditor and seized goods but deferred the sale of those goods whilst the debtor made payment by instalments. An Enforcement Officer then attended on behalf of the second creditor and the debtor offered payment in full. The Court held that the creditor that obtained its writ of control first was entitled to the payment.   

A writ of control is just one method by which to enforce a Judgment. If a debtor owns property it is possible to secure the Judgment debt over that property by way of a charging order so that when the property is sold the Judgment debt is paid (if there is sufficient equity in the property). Steps can even be taken to speed up the process and force the sale of that property. Our team can conduct a land registry search for you to determine ownership and then make the necessary court applications.

If an individual debtor owes you more than £5,000 then steps can be taken to apply for the debtor to be made bankrupt so that his or her assets are sold to pay the Judgment debt, if sufficient assets exist. We can take the necessary steps for you including arranging personal service and organising representation for you at the bankruptcy hearing. Similarly, if a company owes you more than £750 we can take steps to place it into liquidation including complying with the advertising requirements.  
 
If the debtor is employed then it is possible to obtain an order so that money comes out of his or her wages in satisfaction of the Judgment debt and we can make the necessary application for you and organise representation at the hearing. This is known as an attachment of earnings order.

It is also possible for us to assist you to obtain an order for money to come out of the debtor’s bank account to satisfy the Judgment debt and this has proved a very successful method of enforcement for our clients to date. This is known as a third party debt order.  

If you don’t have enough information about the debtor’s assets we can arrange for searches to be carried out or apply for the debtor to attend court to give further information.    

Many of the methods of enforcement can be used simultaneously but not all so it is best to seek advice. For assistance in enforcing a Judgment you have obtained please contact Sophie Clarke.