What Methods Of Enforcement Are Available To Me?

Dealing with unpaid debts can be a frustrating and challenging experience. Fortunately, there are various methods of enforcement available to creditors to help recover what they are owed. Whether you are owed money by an individual or a business, understanding your options for enforcement is crucial for securing repayment.

High Court Enforcement Officers

HCEOs have the ability to seize and sell assets in order to satisfy the debt. This means that if the debtor fails to comply with payment demands, HCEOs can take possession of valuable items such as vehicles, artwork, or even property. The proceeds from the sale will then be used towards repaying the outstanding amount.

County Court Bailiff

County Court Bailiffs are Court officials who have the authority to visit debtor’s premises and seize assets in order to satisfy the outstanding judgment debt.

The bailiffs will typically make contact with the debtor first, informing them about their presence and giving them an opportunity to pay off the debt voluntarily. If this fails, they may proceed with taking control of goods or seizing assets owned by the debtor.

It’s important to note that County Court Bailiffs have limitations in terms of the assets they can seize and sell. They are not permitted to enter certain types of property without permission, such as hospitals or diplomatic premises. Additionally, any items that are considered essential for daily living, such as clothing, basic household furniture or “tools of the trade” cannot be seized and sold.

Third Party Debt Order

A Third Party Debt Order order will typically be used to freeze a debtor’s bank account. This type of order is used where a third party has control over money that belongs to the debtor. This is not limited to the debtor’s bank and may include an employer or another party that is either due to pay monies to the debtor or is otherwise holding monies that belong to the debtor. 

When you apply for a Third Party Debt Order, the Court will grant an interim order requiring the third party to confirm what is being held in the applicable account for the benefit of the debtor and require the account to be frozen. The Court will then determine at a hearing how much to order the third party to pay to you directly on behalf of the debtor. This means that even if the debtor refuses or fails to make payment, you still have a chance of recovering your money through this method.

Timing is crucial with this type of enforcement and it may not be effective if there are no funds available in the third party’s account at the time of freezing.

Attachment of Earnings

When applying for an Attachment of Earnings order, the Court will initially send out a form to the debtor to complete to provide details of their income and expenditure. If the debtor fails to respond, the Court then ask the debtor’s employer to provide details of the debtor’s earnings. The Court will then assess how much the debtor can afford to pay each month and will order the debtor’s employer to deduct a specified amount from the debtor’s wages each month and pay this into Court. The Court will then account the sums collected periodically to the creditor and the Attachment of Earnings will remain in place until the debt is fully repaid or the debtor no longer works for the employer.

The advantage of this method is that repayments are taken out of the debtor’s hands and monies are deducted from their wages. It also provides a consistent stream of payment for creditors. Where the debtor has multiple Attachment of Earnings orders against them, the sum deducted will be shared between the creditors on a pro-rata basis.

If you have an Attachment of Earnings order in place you will not be able to take any further enforcement action.

Charging Order

A charging order is a means of obtaining a Court order that permits you to secure the debt by way of a charge against a debtor’s share of the equity held in any property they own. Typically this will be their home if they are an individual, but this can include any property owned by the debtor. It gives the creditor the right to apply for an order that places a charge on the property, effectively turning the debt into a secured one.

Once the final charging order is issued, the charge will then be registered as an official charge on the Land Registry records. This means that if and when the debtor sells their property or in some cases seeks to remortgage the property, your debt should be paid from the proceeds of sale.

Where the debt is particularly large and there is significant equity in the debtor’s property, you may be able to consider further order for sale proceedings to force the sale of the property in order to recover the outstanding sums secured by way of a charge. However, this is quite rare and you would need specialist advice from our litigation team if this was an option you wished to pursue.

Information Order

An Information Order can be obtained from the Court. Essentially the order will require the debtor to attend Court to provide details of their income, assets, and liabilities. This enforcement method is often used as a precursor to other enforcement methods, as it provides valuable insight into the debtor’s financial position which can help to determine which method of enforcement would have the best chance of successful recovery.

Information Orders can be used to summons individuals to Court to provide information whether they are individual debtors or directors of a company. This can be particularly helpful where a debtor is refusing to engage with you. If a debtor fails to comply with an order to attend Court to provide information, the Court does have the power to hold the debtor in contempt of Court. This means that, whilst rare, the debtor could go to prison for a short period of time if they do not comply. The threat of which can make debtors take the situation more seriously and engage with you to agree a payment plan.


When it comes to debt recovery and enforcement of a County Court Judgment (CCJ), there are several methods available to you. Each method its own advantages and the best method will vary from case to case, depending on the specific circumstances.

Remember that each case is unique and requires careful consideration before deciding which enforcement method is most appropriate for you. Consult with professionals who specialise in debt recovery for tailored advice based on your situation.

23 May 2024