Small claims guide

enforcing the judgment

Getting judgment in your favour (i.e. winning the case), doesn't mean you get paid. If you want to be paid you will now have to 'enforce the judgment'.

You have to decide whether to enforce the judgment and how. If the defendant hasn't got the money or any saleable possessions you are not going to get paid. You will have to decide whether the chances of getting payment are high enough to justify the further additional cost and effort of enforcing the judgment.

There are three ways in which you can try to get your money. These are:

Asking for a warrant of control means that you instruct the court to send their bailiff to the defendant's premises. They will try to collect the money or take goods, which will be sold at auction. This is described in more detail later. This is probably the commonest way of enforcing your judgment but before using it you should consider the alternatives.

An 'Attachment of earnings' order is sent to the defendant's employer and requires them to deduct payments from the defendant's pay packet and send it to the court. This is only appropriate where the defendant is a private individual and is not self-employed.

A third-party debt order (formerly garnishee) is sent to a third party who holds money belonging to the defendant or owes money to the defendant. This is usually applied to the defendant's bank or building society. You can get payment from the defendant's bank account paid straight to you.

In addition to the three methods outlined above there are two other options that might prove useful. These are:

The phrase 'oral examination' is now considered to be old fashioned. It has been replaced 'order that debtor attend court for questioning'.

The following sections provide more detail on each of the options.

See also: EX321 - I have a judgment but the defendant hasn't paid - what do I do?

warrant of control

You apply for a warrant of control by sending the court form N323 - Request for warrant of control. There is a fee payable with the form. This option is only available for claims up to 5000. For larger amounts you have to use the High Court.

If the defendant's premises are outside of the court's area the warrant will be forwarded to the nearest court. In most cases the court will send the defendant notice that a warrant has been issued. If no payment is received after seven days the bailiff will try to collect payment or take goods from the defendant.

If the bailiff is successful you will receive payment from the court. This may take some time, especially if goods are first to be sold at auction.

See also: EX322 - How do I ask for a warrant of execution?

attachment of earnings

You can apply for an attachment of earnings provided:

Special rules apply if the defendant is in the armed services or is a merchant seaman and you should ask your local court for more information.

To apply for attachment of earnings you need to fill in a copy of Form N337 and send it to the court with the appropriate fee.

The court will try and get a 'statement of means' from the defendant. This will tell the court how much the defendant earns and how much they need to spend to cover regular bills. If the defendant's income is low it may not be possible to make an attachment. Otherwise the court will decide on the level at which payments are to be set.

See also: EX323 - How do I ask for an attachment of earnings order?

third-party debt order

You can use a garnishee order to force a third party who either holds money belonging to the debtor or owes the debtor money. The garnishee order only works once at the moment it is served. If there is no money in a bank account at the time it is served then the order fails.

To apply for a garnishee order you need to fill in a copy of Form N349 and send it to the court with the appropriate fee.

See also: EX325 - Third party debt orders and charging orders - how do I apply for an order?

charging order

A charging order is usually made in relation to the defendant's house or any land they might own. It can be useful where the defendant owns some substantial asset but does not have any ready cash with which to pay you. A charging order does not of itself get you payment but it prevents the defendant from selling the property without paying you.

See also: EX325 - Third party debt orders and charging orders - how do I apply for an order?

oral examination

An oral examination is not a way of getting your money but allows you to obtain more information about the defendant's finances. It requires the defendant to come to the court and answer any questions you put to him regarding his finances.

See also: EX324 - Orders to obtain information - how do I apply for an order?



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