Unfortunately, being awarded an order for money to be paid to you does not guarantee that you are going to get your money. If the person who is due to pay you does not cough up on time, you may have to seek to enforce the judgment against them. Unfortunately, this means yet another application to the court.
Section 24(1) of the Limitation Act 1980 sets out that after 6 years of a judgment becoming enforceable, no action can be brought based on that judgment. On first reading this could suggest that the deadline for enforcing an order is 6 years.
However, the 1998 House of Lords case of Lowsley v Forbes held that this time limit does not apply to enforcement of an order. It confirmed that the relevant section of the Limitation Act 1980 only applied to new actions being made on the basis of that judgment. Therefore, enforcement proceedings in the same proceedings were not included as they are simply a way of executing a judgment.
Hence you could apply for a charging order using the same Court, using the same case number, but you could not start a new action, such as a bankruptcy petition based on the judgement.
However, this does not mean that you should delay enforcing a judgment that has been made in your favour and you need to watch out for the following:
- You can only claim interest on a judgment debt for up to 6 years;
- After 6 years, you will have to seek permission from the Court to obtain a writ of execution;
- The more time that passes, the harder it may be to find assets to enforce the judgment against; and
- The judgment debtor may challenge the enforcement proceedings on the grounds that you delayed enforcement.
Enforcing a money judgment is not always simple. What if the Judgment Debtor has left the country? What if the Judgment Debtor has declared themselves bankrupt or becomes insolvent? What if the Judgment Debtor simply has no assets to enforce the judgment against?
It is important to discover the best form of enforcement. The answer as to which way may be not be straight forward and enquiries can take some time. Therefore, if you don’t get paid on time, it is important to start making enquiries and seeking advice as soon as possible.