I’ve Won! Now What?

What are small claims all about?If you are Claimant and won at trial, the Judge will likely have ordered the Defendant to pay a sum of money, made up of the claim compensation, interest and court costs. The order will usually specify any sum should be paid within 14 days of the order.

If you were the Defendant, you might have been awarded some expenses for the Claimant to pay.

But what next? What if the other side ignores the order and doesn’t pay?

You have to weigh up whether you are likely to see any money from the debtor if you pursue the judgment. The enforcement methods all involve paying court fees to pursue. You might be throwing good money after bad to pursue the matter further.

If the other side doesn’t pay and you want to pursue it further, you need to consider the options. Explaining each option and how to use them goes beyond the scope of what we can cover on this site. If you want to know how to use them, we recommend you check out the course at SV Legal.

However, the usual methods of enforcement used in enforcing a judgment include:


County Court Bailiff / High Court Sheriff


You instruct the Bailiff or Sheriff to go to the premises or home of the debtor to ask for payment. If payment isn’t made, the Bailiff of Sheriff can try to take goods away to sell at auction. The Bailiff can enforce judgments up to £5,000 in value. The Sheriff can enforce judgments of a value greater than £600.


Attachment Of Earnings


If the debtor is an individual and you know where he works, you can apply to court for an order compelling the employer to pay you straight out of his salary. The amount of any instalments depends upon the financial circumstances of the debtor.


Third Party Debt Order


If someone owes the debtor money (such as a creditor / customer) or holds the debtor’s money (such as a bank), the court can order them to pay you. You need to know who the third party is before applying to court.


Charging Order


You can apply to court to place a charge against the debtor’s premises or home. It works in a similar way to a mortgage. It is generally not a quick way to recover payment as you might have to wait until the debtor sells voluntarily, although you can apply to court to ask the court for permission for you to sell the property.


Order For Information


It isn’t a way of actually of obtaining payment but the court can compel the debtor to answer questions about their assets, liabilities, income and expenditure. The answers to the questions can help decide which of the methods to use. It can however, be a long process as the debtor might ignore the demand of the court to answer the questions, until eventually the court adds a provision that failure to cooperate will be a criminal offence. There is also the problem that the debtor might just lie.


Insolvency Proceedings


If the debtor cannot pay its debts as they fall due, the debtor might be insolvent. An insolvent individual can be made bankrupt and a company can be wound up and put into liquidation. There are also other types of insolvency. If the debtor owes you more than £750 for an undisputed debt, such as a judgment, you can commence a bankruptcy petition or winding up petition.