Final judgment and enforcement

A judgment is the final decision made in a case. In certain cases a party may be required to enforce the final decision.

At the end of the trial, the Judge will make a decision or adjourn the case to give the decision at a later date. The Judge’s decision is known as a ‘judgment’.

Once a judgment has been made, if money is required to be paid by one party to the other, the way the parties are referred to will change:

  • the party who was successful in the case is called the judgment creditor
  • the party whom the judgment was made against and now has to make payment is known as the judgment debtor.

When a judgment requires a person to pay money, it becomes a debt. Interest continues to accrue on that debt at the penalty interest rate.

Setting aside a judgment

If you have had a judgment made against you for not attending the Court on a day you were supposed to, you may be able to make an application to have the order set aside and the matter reheard. You will need to show good reasons for not attending the hearing, have a valid defence to the case and give reasons why the court should not have made an order against you.

This type of application is made by summons, supporting affidavit and payment of a fee. The Court will then set a date to hear the application.

You will need to serve the other party with a copy of the summons. The summons should be served personally or mailed to the service address of the solicitors for other party, or the party themselves if they are unrepresented. Once the summons has been served, you should file an affidavit of service with the Court to prove that you have served the documents. Visit I need to serve a document.

At the hearing of your application, the Judge will read the affidavit, hear from the parties about why the judgment should or should not be set aside and then make a decision. If the judgment is set aside, the Judge will give directions about what happens next.

Can I pay the debt off?

It is a good idea to make arrangements for payment as soon as possible. You can contact the judgment creditor or their solicitors to arrange with them how and when to pay the debt.

Enforcement

If there is an outstanding debt, land or goods the judgment creditor may apply to the Court to enforce the judgment or order against the debtor. Order 66 of the County Court Civil Procedure Rules 2008 sets out a number of enforcement options that a judgment creditor may use when a judgment debtor does not do what is ordered in the judgment. Options include warrants, attachment of earnings, an attachment of debt ‘garnishee order’ and a charging order.

Warrant (Order 68)

The Court can issue three types of warrants:

Once issued, the judgment creditor will need to send the warrant to the Sheriff to action.

Attachment of debt ‘garnishee order'

The attachment of debt 'garnishee order’ is an application by the creditor for an order where the debtor is owed money (but not wages) by another person (the garnishee). The application is for the debt owed to be paid directly to the creditor. For example, a debtor’s bank account may be attached under a garnishee order so that payments to the debtor are paid directly to the creditor's bank account (see Order 71 of the County Court Civil Procedure Rules 2008).

Attachment of earnings

The attachment of earnings order is an application to the Court to order the judgment debtor's employer to deduct instalments from their salary each pay day and have them paid directly to the creditor (see Order 72 of the County Court Civil Procedure Rules 2008).

A charging order

This is an enforcement application by the judgment creditor to secure the payment of a judgment debt through securities held by the judgment debtor.

Securities include: 1. any stock, including shares, bond, note or other security 2. any dividend or interest payable on stock.

Before issuing a charging summons, a judgment creditor must make an application to the Court to issue, file and serve the summons. An application for a charging summons must be supported by an affidavit (see Order 73 of the County Court Civil Procedure Rules 2008).

Order for oral examination

If you are unsure of the judgment debtor's financial situation and which enforcement option to choose, you may make an application for an order for oral examination. An oral examination takes place at the court and is when the creditor asks the debtor questions about their finances and may be asked to show documents to prove their financial status. This is not an enforcement process, but it allows the judgment creditor, or their legal representative, to ask questions in the presence of a court registrar about the debtor’s financial situation. This will help determine the best way to enforce the debt (see Order 67 of the County Court Civil Procedure Rules 2008).

The information on this page relates to proceedings in the Commercial or Common Law Divisions. If your matter is in the Criminal Division, visit our Criminal Division page.

For an explanation of common legal terms and phrases, please see our glossary.

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Page last updated: 20 September 2018