The court has the discretion to order payment of a judgment debt by instalments but only where there is a realistic prospect that substantial payments can be made.

In Amsalem v Raivid and Raivid, the claimant obtained a judgment and costs award against the defendants. The defendants applied to the judge for the normal 14 day payment rule to be extended and sought further time to pay by instalments. It was clear from the defendants' own evidence that their net capital worth was virtually nil and that they were unable to pay more than a nominal amount each month.

The court held that there is discretion under Civil Procedure Rule (CPR) 40.11 either to shorten or extend the 14 day period for payment, and to order payment by instalments. However, consideration also had to be given to CPR 70 which states that the court will not automatically enforce its judgments or decide how enforcement will occur.

It is up to the judgment creditor to decide how to enforce its judgment and only exceptionally will the court interfere with those rights. In exercising its discretion in relation to instalment payments, the court had to consider whether there was a realistic prospect of substantial payment being achieved. If there wasn't, as in this case, the discretion could not be exercised.

Things to consider

In the current economic climate, requests for payment by instalments of either judgment debts or orders for costs may well become more frequent. However, the reason for making the request will often be the very reason why the court cannot exercise its limited power to make such an order.