Creditor: When you win at court, what happens next?
Once the court has granted a monetary order of judgement in your favour, it would of course be preferable if your opponent were simply to accept this and comply by paying what you are owed; however, this is sadly not always the case.
Whether you are seeking to recover money or property from your opponent, there is always a risk that your opponent will not comply with the monetary order made against them and you may be left successful on paper, but without remuneration.
This is however not the end of the road as there are methods available to you, under the Civil Procedure Rules, to enforce the judgement. They include, but are not limited to:
- a writ or warrant of control, allowing you to take control of your opponents goods;
- a charging order, stop order or stop notice;
- a third party debt order;
- in the County Court, an attachment of earnings order; or
- the appointment of a receiver, to consider insolvency.
Whilst the above options give the perception of a quick recovery, they will only be effective if you are aware of the opponent having assets that the above can be attached to or obtained.
What if you are unaware of your opponent’s financial position?
There is a further option if you have been unable to determine the extent of your opponent’s financial situation. You can apply to the court to obtain information from the debtor in relation to their finances and/or for disclosure of the same.
Whilst this may seem a slower option, when compared to the potential consequences of the methods mentioned above, it will allow you to gain a full picture of your opponent’s finances to ensure the method you pursue has the best chance of success.
A recent case has highlighted how the courts are willing to assist a party who had successfully obtained a judgement order, when their opponent repeatedly failed to provide the information requested, through injunctive relief.
In Lakatamia Shipping Company Ltd and others v Su and others  EWHC 865 (Comm), Lakatamia were seeking to enforce a high value judgement against Mr. Su, who had wilfully continued to fail to comply with the multiple orders against him. They requested that Mr. Su disclose and produce information in relation to his assets. Lakatamia successfully applied to the court to require:
- Mr. Su to identify his email and social media accounts in order for a court appointed independent lawyer to review them and (subject to conditions) disclose any relevant information to Lakatamia regarding his assets on which the judgement could be enforced; and
- mandates, as signed by Mr. Su, to be sent to the providers of those accounts authorising the independent lawyer to review them on the same terms as above.
Due to Mr. Su being unwilling to comply with the orders, the court assessed they had the authority to grant an injunction to allow an independent solicitor to review and (subject to conditions) provide the relevant information obtained in the accounts to Lakatamia, in order to assist in their enforcement of the judgement. Whilst this case involved a substantial sum of money, it demonstrates the court’s willingness to consider alternative options to allow a successful party to obtain information from their opponent to pursue enforcement.
It is easy to look on this situation with hindsight, but it is important to investigate at the outset (when you discover that monies are owed to you and as part of the strategy of your claim) how you would seek to recover the balance from your opponent, if you are successful and they refuse to pay. If your opponent does not have the money to satisfy the debt owed to you, it is necessary to consider whether you would be throwing good money after bad in pursuing them.