Even where you obtain a judgment or order against a debtor requiring them to pay you money, you may still need to enforce the order to get the money into your bank account where it belongs.

You need to know as much about the debtor’s finances as you can.  Information may be publically available, but if it isn’t, you can apply to the Court for an examination of the debtor.  An examination requires the debtor, on oath, to provide the Court with details of all income, outgoings, assets, and liabilities that the debtor has.

You can look at the best enforcement option:

  • If the debtor has money in the bank or is owed money by another person, you can seek an order that the bank or other party pays the money to you.  This is called a garnishee order.
  • Attachment orders are useful where a debtor is asset poor, but has income.  Income is not limited to wages, it can include any rent or regular source of incoming money.  An attachment order attaches to a source of income and makes automatic deductions from it and pays those to you.
  • Sale orders are useful where a debtor is cash poor but asset rich.  You can obtain orders to sell any personal property or real estate owned by the debtor. Having a bailiff turn up on the door step and seize a vehicle or other assets can be a great incentive to paying the debt. Often very effective where it is the spouse who has to deal with the bailiff or who faces losing their transport.
  • Bankruptcy is also another option to consider if the judgment is over $1,000.  The debtor’s assets can be seized and sold and used to repay creditors.  Income over basic living costs will also go to creditors.  Secured creditors will take priority over unsecured creditors (a judgment is not a secured debt but a mortgage is). This is a good option if the debtor has assets that they do not want sold, and if they have already disposed of assets to try to avoid having them seized. These can be clawed back if the disposal was not for a fair value.

As with anything debt-related, the key is to act quickly.  Once you’ve obtained a judgment, the debtor should be contacted to require payment immediately.  If payment is not received, you need to take action as soon as possible to enforce the judgment and get your money.

If you suspect they are going to try to move assets or money out of the country, there are steps that can be taken to prevent that happening, even before judgment, so keep your ear to the ground for useful information on their intentions to leave the country or dispose of assets.