Debt Recovery in the High Court - Best Advice from our Litigation Solicitors
If someone owes you a substantial sum of money, you may have to go to the High Court to recover the debt. Where the amount owed is more than £10,000, you can make a formal claim for the debt in the High Court. Even if you receive judgment against someone for a lesser amount in the County Court, you may have to take High Court action to enforce the judgment to recover the money.
In other words, obtaining judgment against a debtor is often just the start.
Money claims of between £10,001 and £25,000 are dealt with by the 'fast track' procedure in the County Court; claims for over £25,000 are dealt with under the 'multi-track' procedure and are often issued in the High Court – particularly where they are very large sums or particularly complex. Larger claims (those over £100,000) are issued in the High Court.
Usually, the threat of court proceedings is sufficient to secure payment from your debtor, but if not, you will need to start formal proceedings. High Court proceedings are more complex and are therefore significantly more costly. The process can take at up to two years to reach trial and the longer the dispute continues, the higher the costs. Attempting to settle the claim early therefore advisable.
Debt Recovery Enforcement
Obtaining judgment does not guarantee that full payment will follow. If the debtor has no money to pay, then taking further action to enforce the judgment may simply not be worthwhile. For this reason, it’s advisable to investigate your debtor’s means to pay before you consider what further action to take, if any.
If the debtor does have the means to pay, but refuses to pay within the required time, using High Court Enforcement Officers can be highly effective. Once a High Court judgment is awarded, a Writ of Control can then be obtained from the County Court) – and an Enforcement Officer instructed. It is then the duty of the Enforcement Officer to take control of the debtor’s goods which are then sold. The sale proceeds are used to satisfy the judgment order (ie pay you) and the Enforcement Officer’s fees.
Asking the High Court to enforce a judgment against the debtor might mean issuing a winding up petition against the debtor (if a company); or asking the court to make an individual bankrupt.
If the debtor has assets or goods, you can apply for a Warrant (or Writ) of Execution. This bailiffs can then collect the money owed, or seize goods to sell at auction – then pay you.
If the debtor has money in an account, you can apply for a third party debt order (‘TPDO’). This would enable you to recover funds from any third party (a bank, or building society, for instance) that owes money to a judgment debtor. It means you can recover money directly from that third party.
A further way to secure payment is to apply for a Charging Order. Your judgment would be secured against an asset belonging to the debtor and means the debtor cannot sell the ‘charged’ asset without paying you.
We will discuss all your options and decide with you the best way to proceed to have the judgment enforced.
What are the costs implications?
High Court action should only be taken if the debtor does not have grounds to dispute the claim or make a counter claim against you, otherwise it could prove significantly costly. If you take action and you succeed, you can claim your legal costs from the debtor – though you will probably have to pay some of them. While the case is ongoing you will still have to pay your own costs.
If you lose the claim, you may be ordered to pay the debtor’s costs and most of their legal fees. Where enforcement action is required, the debtor will be responsible for the costs involved.
How Selachii Can Help
Selachii is a dynamic litigation and dispute resolution law firm based in Kensington, London. We put the best interests of our clients at the heart of everything we do. We work with both businesses and private individuals, giving them legal advice and support which is unique to them and their situation.
We don’t believe in simply handing out one-size-fits-all solutions to problems. We will focus on your specific circumstances before working out the best and most cost-effective way of helping you achieve your aims.