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Enforcing Court Judgments

Once a Court has awarded a party a judgment against their opponent, then the winning party will look to enforce that judgment.  There are various ways in which a judgment creditor can look to enforce a judgment, however, this article explains three of the most common and useful methods of enforcing a money judgment against a judgment debtor.

Execution and Taking Control of Goods

This involves a judgment creditor applying to the court for either ‘writ of control’ in the High Court or a ‘warrant of control’ in the County Court, which allows an enforcement officer to take control of and sell a judgment debtor’s personal goods (formerly known as a sheriff or bailiff) to satisfy the judgment debt, costs and the costs of enforcement.

Once items are sold and expenses deducted, the judgment debt and costs are paid and remaining proceeds (if any) are returned to the debtor.

Charging Orders on Land and Orders for Sale

A Judgment creditor can make an application to the Court for a charging order over the debtor’s land for the amount due under a judgment.  The property has to be clearly identified and ownership can be easily established by a £3 search on HM Land Registry.

In order to get money from the charging order, the judgment creditor can apply to the court for an order for sale of the land charged by the charging order. The judgment creditor can control the marketing and sale of the property and handles distribution of the proceeds of sale.  Alternatively, if the judgment debtor sells or re-mortgages the judgment and interest is paid from the sale proceeds.

Insolvency Proceedings

If an individual owes a judgment creditor more than £5,000 then the judgment creditor can apply to the court to petition for bankruptcy.  If a company owes a judgment creditor more than £750, then the judgment creditor can apply to the court to have the company wound up.

The first step in applying for bankruptcy or winding up proceedings is to serve on the judgment debtor a statutory demand. A statutory demand is a formal written demand for payment of a debt within 21 days. If the judgment debtor does not pay within 21 days or fails to apply to the court to have it set aside, then the judgment creditor is able to use the statutory demand as ground to apply for a bankruptcy order or a winding-up order to the court.

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