In the case of debts owed to you by either individuals or companies, it is possible for you to obtain a County Court Judgement, commonly referred to as a CCJ, ordering them to pay.
However, if the payment is still not forthcoming, how to do you enforce the Order?
Else’s debt recovery solicitors in Burton on Trent have outlined five options that may be open to you.
1. Charging Order
A Charging Order is a means of securing the debt against property owned by either the individual or the company in debt to you.
If your application is granted, the Courts will first of all issue Interim Charging Order, which is registered with the Land Registry. There will then be a hearing to decide if the order is justified and whether it will be made binding.
This itself may be enough to prompt the debtor to start paying. Otherwise, you have two choices.
You can choose to sit on the order and wait until the property is either sold or remortgaged. When this happens, the monies due to you will be taken out of the equity in the property – provided it is sufficient. It should be noted that if there are other charges pre-dating yours, these will be given priority.
The other option is to force the issue by taking out an Order for the sale of the property. Again, the threat of this can be a powerful lever in persuading the debtor to start talking about payment arrangements.
2. Attachment of Earnings Order
Should you be dealing with an individual who is employed by a company, you can apply to the courts for an Attachment of Earnings Order. This will require their employer to deduct a specified amount from their salary on a monthly or weekly basis until the debt has been settled.
A letter explaining that this will be your next step can often be enough to get the debtor co-operating. Not many people are happy for their employers to find out about their situation or to have their pay effectively docked in this way.
3. Winding Up Proceedings
In the case of debts owed by a limited company, you can apply to the courts to have the business closed down by means of a Winding Up Petition. In the case of a solvent business, this is usually something the directors will wish to avoid at all costs – including the cost of finally settling their debt to you.
4. Bankruptcy Petition
In the case of Judgement debts over £750 owed by individuals, there is another option. You can use insolvency proceedings against your debtor.
First, you serve them with a Statutory Demand. Essentially, this gives them 28 days to make payment of the full sum outstanding.
Should the money still not be forthcoming, the second stage is to issue a Bankruptcy Petition against the person. Again, the threat of this potential outcome is often enough to make things happen.
5. Warrant of Execution
Of all the methods of enforcing a Judgement, the best known to the public is undoubtedly the act of sending in the Bailiffs. By taking out a Warrant of Execution you can instruct the Bailiffs to secure goods to the value of the debt.
As you have possibly seen in TV documentaries, when the Bailiffs turn up on the door, many debtors suddenly become much more focused on paying. They have to pay the entire amount due, or else the Bailiffs will still be able to take goods to the value of the debt. These can be seized from the business premises, or in the case of individual debtors, from their place of residence. Once this happens it becomes even more expensive for the debtor, because they have to cover the cost of these actions, including the bills for storage and the costs associated with auction of the seized goods.
Although Bailiffs are not allowed to take items considered essential to the continuation of the debtor’s business, such as factory equipment or vehicles, or essential household items, they still have a wide remit. Should the goods they seize not raise enough at auction to cover the amount due to you, they will go back again.
If you have problem debtors who are unwilling to pay, a County Court Judgement and appropriate follow-up action can be an effective way of resolving the matter quickly and with minimal disruption to your cash flow.
For more information and advice about CCJs, contact our expert debt recovery solicitors in Burton on Trent. You can send us a message or call us on 01283 526200.