Virtual Assistant Business Support

Small Claims Court: Notice of Judgement

Scales of JusticeWell, June 16 came and went and still no response from our non-paying client.

The next day, when I logged into the Money Claims Online website I noted that they’d had some trouble with their system so, as they suggested, I rang the helpdesk number to verify that I could proceed with our case. A very helpful person checked their system and confirmed that they had not received a response from the defendant, and that I could click the link marked ‘Judgement’.

Once clicked, I was taken to a page where I had to select one of three methods for the defendant to pay us: immediately; by installments; by a set date. I clicked ‘immediately’.

I then had to wait a couple of days while the case was processed. We were sent a ‘Notice of Judgment Entered’ letter saying that judgment had been entered against the Defendant on June 19, 2008. I was advised to wait a few days before clicking the ‘Enforcement’ link.

We now have to decide how to enforce payment…

We can ask the court to send a bailiff to the company’s address. I copied the paragraph below from the website. It explains what a bailiff can do. There are more pages on the site further detailing a bailiff’s rights.

“If the defendant does not live within the court’s area, the court will send the warrant to his or her local court.

The bailiff will usually send the defendant a letter saying that a warrant has been issued and that he or she must pay within seven days.

If the defendant pays, the court will send you the money. This could take up to 15 days if the defendant paid by cheque. (This is necessary to make sure that the cheque has cleared.)

If the defendant does not pay within seven days, the bailiff will call at the address you gave. The bailiff will go to the defendant’s address within 15 working days of the warrant being issued. The bailiff will try to identify goods which they could sell at auction or collect a payment to prevent goods being sold.

If you gave more than one address, the bailiff will visit each address in turn.

If the defendant has goods which can be sold, the bailiff will take the cost of taking, storing and selling the goods from the amount they raise. The court will send you the rest after this has been done.

If this amount does not repay the amount you are owed, the bailiff will visit the defendant to see if there are any other goods which could be sold. If there are not, the bailiff will not be able to take any more action on the warrant.”

Another option would be to have the company’s bank account frozen with a Third Party Debt Order. The HMCS website has this to offer:

“You can make an application for an order at any time after you have obtained judgment. However, the judge who considers your application will not make an order unless the judgment debtor:

• has failed to pay the amount of the judgment when it was due; or
• has failed to pay one or more of the instalments due under the terms of the judgment.

You should consider carefully when to make your application. The court order which is initially sent to the third party will only ‘freeze’ money held in an account on the day it is received by (served on) the third party. So if, for example, the order is received a couple of days before the debtor’s salary is paid into the account, you are likely to receive little or nothing since the ‘freeze’ will not be applied to any money paid into the account after the court’s order was received.”

So we would need to know what the company’s bank account details are and whether there is any money in the account on the day the Third Party Debt Order becomes active.

The problem with the bailiffs is that they cannot take ‘tools of trade’ and companies offering IT services often have little else of value — apart from a coffee machine maybe. The problem with freezing the account is that the company might be in debt, which would explain why they haven’t paid our invoice.

So stay tuned. Will the defendant come to his senses and pay up? Will our intrepid heroes use the bailiff or the bank account approach? I’ll update this blog when we’ve decided how to proceed.