A judgment made by a court may require one party to pay a sum of money to another. Often this signifies the finale to the proceedings; however, it is not always the end of the road: if the judgment is ignored by the party required to pay (the judgment debtor), the judgment creditor will still need to take enforcement steps to recover the money owed.
If the judgment debtor owns property then a dependable method of enforcement can be a charging order. Once granted and registered, a charging order can be a way to ensure any sale proceeds from the property are paid towards the judgment before they are released to the judgment debtor. In some cases the judgment creditor will be entitled to force a sale of the property to make this happen.
This note is a reminder that with effect 6 April 2016, the charging orders regime has changed. There are three key differences under the new regime:-
- An application for a charging order with respect to a judgment made in the County Court will need to be made to the County Court Money Claims Centre;
- Where an application is made to the County Court Money Claims Centre it will be determined by a Court Officer; and
- Where an application is to be determined by a Court Officer this will be an administrative action and a hearing will not be listed.
Under the previous regime, applications were sent to the County Court where the judgment was made, and determined at a hearing by a district judge before the claimant and whichever other party who saw fit to attend. Under the new regime, if the County Court Money Claims Centre receives an objection to the application, the matter will be transferred to the local court of the judgment debtor and the process will essentially revert back to the old regime, whereby the application will be determined at a hearing by a district judge.
Other changes include:-
- slight amendments to the charging order application forms (N379 and N380);
- responsibility to serve the application on the judgment debtor being transferred from the court to the judgment creditor; and
- a new requirement to serve the application not just on parties which have an interest in the property but also the spouse or civil partner of the judgment debtor – if known.
Hearings will still be listed to determine applications which are required to be issued outside the County Court Money Claims Centre, such as those referring to judgements made in the High Court.
The new regime promises to streamline the charging order application process and save the court valuable time and expense; though anyone hoping for the savings to be passed on to applicants by way of reduced court application fees is likely to be disappointed (!)
If you would like to enforce a judgement made in either the County Court or the High Court we would be glad to assist. Our fees are competitive and fixed to provide you with certainty.