This is a question that our clients are always worried about when they are owed money by a third party (the Defendant). They may have tried to get their money back by asking both verbally and in writing, yet nothing has been received. They may come to a Solicitor for advice and to take the worry off their shoulders. A letter before action can be sent and sometimes this is all it takes to start discussing payment. However, there are those circumstances whereby we have to continue with a claim and issue Court Proceedings on our client’s behalf.
So what happens next?
Well, having issued Court Proceedings, should the Defendant/Debtor not acknowledge or respond to the Court issued papers, we can then request Judgment by default.
Should the Court agree, this essentially means that you have won the claim. The Court Order known as the Judgment for the Claimant will be in the sum requested which will be sent to ourselves, together with a copy of the Order being sent to the Defendant. We will then send the Court Order to the Defendant confirming that we have successfully obtained Judgment against them, meaning they have a CCJ against their name.
Then what? The Order will state that the Defendant will have one month from the date of the Order to repay the Claimant in full, including costs awarded. If the Defendant does not pay the Judgment, then the Claimant is free to pursue enforcing the Order.
What can you do to enforce the Order?
There are several different methods of enforcement. The Claimant can look at High Court Enforcement Agents (who are very efficient with recoveries), or the County Court Bailiffs can be instructed to recover the Judgment. A Claimant can look at the possibility of an Attachment of Earnings against the Defendant/Debtor, which would require knowing where the Defendant is employed for the Courts to proceed with the application, the Claimant can proceed with Bankruptcy proceedings or Winding up Petitions. Another favourable enforcement procedure is obtaining a Charging Order on the Defendant’s property or land (if they have this asset), which can give the Claimant the sense of security knowing that once a property and/or land is sold, the Claimant will be paid. It should also be mentioned that with a Charging Order, the relevant searches may reveal that the Defendant has other creditors listed and connected to the property and/or land, therefore the Claimant would be added as a further secured creditor, if this was the case. If there were no other creditors listed, the Claimant would be paid as being first on the list once the property was sold. If a Charging Order is obtained, often an Order for Sale can be requested to order the property be sold.
As can be seen, there are different methods in which to help the client and for which we have continued to advise our clients at the start of a claim. All have pros and cons and much will depend on your debtor’s financial situation as to which method may be most effective.
Our Debt Recovery Department has extensive experience dealing with enforcement and are always on hand to help.