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i The advice on this page applies to residents of Northern Ireland only.

Northern Ireland court action

Money judgment. What happens if you receive one?

If you live in Northern Ireland and your creditors start court action they’ll apply for a money judgment.

If you’re unable to pay a money judgment it may be passed to the Enforcement of Judgments Officer (EJO) to recover the debt.

The EJO only collect debts in Northern Ireland. The process for recovering unpaid debts in England, Wales and Scotland works differently.

How does a money judgment work?

Before the EJO can take any action they need to send a document called a ‘custody warrant’.

This means that your goods and assets will be under the control of the EJO and you’re not allowed to sell them.

A custody warrant is usually delivered by post, but sometimes a member of the EJO may visit your home. The items listed aren’t normally removed from your home.

The EJO then conducts an ‘examination of means’ to find out the best way to recover the debt. A report is sent to the creditor explaining what you’ve got available to pay to them. The EJO can then take the following actions:


  • An attachment of earnings order, where the payment is taken directly from your wage
  • An instalment order, where you make regular payments directly to the creditor
  • An order charging land, securing the debt against land or property you own
  • A seizure order, where goods you own are taken
  • An order appointing receiver, where the court takes money someone else owes you, to pay the debt
  • A garnishee order, which gives the EJO power to take payment from your bank account
  • Certificate of unenforceability, where the EJO determines you have no way to pay the debt back in a reasonable time

Worried about a money judgment?

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If you’ve received court paperwork or been contacted by the EJO, we can provide the debt help and support you need, or call our Helpline (free from landlines and all mobiles).

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