You need to consider before you start a claim whether or not the potential defendant will be able to satisfy a judgment: otherwise you might end up with a moral and legal victory, but no financial recompense and a substantial bill for legal expenses. Once a judgment is obtained, it is effective immediately, and the debtor should comply with its terms. Unless it states that payment should be made ‘forthwith’, however, the debtor should be given a reasonable period of time in which to pay. If it is necessary to have the judgment enforced, it can be done in several different ways. The court will not do it, however, unless you ask for it. The way in which you are required to make the request is determined by the method of enforcement you choose, so you might need legal advice at this stage. You could, for example, ask for a warrant of execution, an attachment of earnings order, a third party debt order, or a charging order. A warrant of execution gives county court bailiffs or High Court enforcement officers the authority to take goods from the defendant’s home or business. But there are limits on the type of goods that can be seized, and goods sold at auction will only achieve a fraction of their value.
An attachment of earnings order can be sent to the debtor’s employer, authorising them to deduct an amount from the debtor’s pay cheque each pay day, and send it to a collection office, from which it will be sent on to the creditor. If the debtor has cash or other assets, but is refusing to pay, a third party debt order can be issued to stop them from removing money from their bank or building society account, and authorising the bank or building society to pay the creditor from the account. A third party debt order can also be sent to anyone who owes the debtor money. A charging order prevents the debtor from selling assets (such as property, land or investments), without paying what is owed under the judgement. Finally, if the amount owed is more than £750, the creditor can apply to make the debtor bankrupt.
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