What happens if my creditor doesn’t accept my offer?
If you can’t come to an arrangement with your creditor before the deadline, they may apply for full enforcement action.
Or, if you fail to respond to the notice at all, your creditor may apply to the EJO for ‘discovery’.
Once the EJO receives a discovery application and a court fee, they’ll investigate your situation and make a report detailing your means and any assets. They’ll give this to your creditor. Your creditor will use the information to help them decide what action they should take.
What can happen next?
To enforce the judgment against you in full, your creditor will need to submit form 3, ‘Application for enforcement of a money judgment in the Enforcement of Judgments Office’ along with the court fee to the EJO.
At this stage the EJO will add your details to their public debt register. These will remain on there for six years. Anyone can search the online register for a fee of £10, including lenders, employers and some legal professionals.
You’ll also have to pay the EJO’s court fees and any other associated costs.
The EJO will contact you directly and arrange an interview. They’ll discuss your financial situation and present the information you submit in a statement of affairs. If they need additional information, they may decide to contact your bank or employer.
After the EJO accepts an application for enforcement, they’ll issue a custody warrant, meaning all your goods will be in the ‘custody and possession’ of the EJO. A custody warrant covers all the goods at your home, at any other premises you have, as well as items in other locations which may be jointly or solely owned by you.
However, there are exceptions to what the warrant covers. The EJO won’t include any essential items, such as clothing, furnishing or perishable food items.
You’ll also be able to keep:
- goods including motor vehicles which you’ve taken out on a hire purchase or conditional sale agreement
- tools of the trade up to the value of £200
You won’t be able to sell any of the items covered under the warrant, or give them away, damage them, or try to dispose of them. If you’re caught doing any of this, it’ll be treated as a criminal offence, which is punishable by a fine or even imprisonment.
Once they finish gathering information, the EJO will decide on the most appropriate method(s) of enforcement, which may include selling your belongings to repay the debt and court fees. Even at this stage, it may still be possible to avoid enforcement action if you make a suitable offer of payment and are allowed to make the payment directly to the creditor.
Unlike your creditor, the EJO may accept a lower payment offer as they have to take your individual circumstances into account and act fairly. To support your offer, you should include a budget showing your income and outgoings, as well as a list of all your creditors. We can help you complete your budget, or you can use our budget form.
What methods do the EJO use to enforce a judgment?
Before the EJO decides what method of enforcement to use, they’ll look into your financial situation. The EJO is a court, so their officers will act fairly and in a way that won’t cause you unnecessary hardship.
They may apply one or more of the following:
- Attachment of earnings order
- Instalment order
- Order charging land
- Seizure order
- Order appointing receiver
- Garnishee order