Enforcement

After the time and money expended in obtaining a judgment a successful petitioner in a civil litigation may expect that the hardest part of the suit has been completed; such is not always the case. Enforcement of the financial penalties to which the loser has been subjected can sometimes be more difficult than any other portion of the litigation. Fortunately, there are a number of methods a person can pursue to enforce the dictates of the court. Sometimes merely informing the offending party that enforcement measures will be undertaken can persuade the person to comply with the courtís mandates. In the event that a person against whom a court judgment has been received refuses to abide by that judgment the court can once again be called upon: This time to enforce the judgment. The court has four avenues by which it may impel the judgment to be paid.

First, the court may elect to send a court officer (bailiff) to enforce the judgment; this is referred to as a warrant of execution. A warrant can be issued if the offending person has failed to make any payment whatsoever or has fallen behind on a payment schedule that was agreed upon previously. The bailiff will visit the person at an address supplied by the petitioner. At that time the offending person must either pay the judgment in cash or surrender goods in lieu of the cash payment.

Second, the court also has the power to remove the money from the personís wages; this is referred to as an attachment of earnings order. In order for earnings to be attached the offending person must be one or more payments behind. In addition, the remaining portion of the judgment must exceed ?50. An attachment of earnings is not viable against an unemployed person, a public entity or a member of any branch of national service.

Third, the court can prevent the offending person from removing money in banking and other similar accounts. Persons owing money to the offender may also be directed to pay it to the petitioner; this is referred to as a third party debt order. A third party debt order can be issued if no payment has been made toward the judgment or after one or more payments has been missed. A solution of this type should be used selectively as it is only good on the date that the order is received at the financial institution. Third party debt orders are not valid against any accounts held or accounts due to which there is more than one signatory unless the judgment was rendered against all the signatories.

Fourth, the court may dictate that funds from the sale of the offending personís home or other assets such as stock or property should be given to the petitioner; this is referred to as a charging order. The amount of the charge made against the asset(s) is equivalent to the unpaid amount of the judgment. A charging order does not generally benefit the petitioner at that moment; rather it places a hold upon any money which the offending person may receive in the future from the disposal of assets.

The successful litigant in a civil suit may be reluctant to enlist the assistance of the court a second time to enforce payment of the judgment. However, the court has established procedures for enforcing compliance. It also has court officers who are experienced in dealing with persons who seek to avoid fulfilling the mandates of the court. Failing to avail oneself of these systems and personnel is a waste of the time and money the petitioner spent to acquire the judgment. It also undercuts the judicial system which handed down the verdict.

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