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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
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Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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A judgment debtor has consistently failed to re-pay the debt

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A judgment debtor has consistently failed to re-pay the debt owed to me by after a county court judgement. County Court and High Court enforcement have been unsuccessful in recovering the debt. The debtor was a sole trader when I sued him but has now dissolved that business and operates under a Ltd company so I cannot enforce against the new company.
I am considering an Information Order but I don't know what questions I am allowed to ask in the court... Can he be asked to disclose financial statements for last 5 years, details of financial irregularities, personal salaries?

How much does he owe?

Does he have a house or any other assets?

Is he simply refusing to pay or is he unable to pay?

Have you tried any other methods of enforcement?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for the reply. He owes £2400 as per CCJ in June 2015 (although with expenses accrued this is in reality more now). I tried the County Court Enforcement officers in June 2015. They tried for 6 months but returned the warrant of control as "unable to execute" because the initial CCJ was against the company (not in the debtor's personal name) - and predictably, the debtor had dissolved the company in Aug 2015 and re-surfaced under a new Ltd company.I therefore had the CCJ successfully amended in March 2016 to read as the debtor's personal name as we purchased goods from his (then) sole-trader company. This was converted to a High Court Writ in May 2016 and The Sheriff's Office were instructed to enforce. I performed a Trace through the Sheriff's Office to locate his current address. He has no vehicles registered with DVLA. The Sheriff's Office have made contact with him at that address in June but they have so far been unable to gain lawful entry (he has not been at the premises) so we do not know what his personal assets are.The Sheriff's Office received a phone call this week from the debtor's Father stating that the debtor no longer resides at that address, saying that he now lives with his girlfriend but would not disclose this address. I suspect this is an attempt to divert the enforcement officers and avoid payment as he has consistently refused to pay ever since the case began 2 years ago. He has never cited an inability to pay.I do not know if he owns the registered address. I am aware of charging orders being placed on a property but these require the property to be sold in order to recover the debt and thus may take many years. I have read about 3rd party debt orders but I do not know whether the bank details I have for him are still valid now. I could blindly try? Under recent changes, I can only apply to have somebody declared bankrupt if the debt exceeds £5000, so that too is not an option. Hence, I wondered about an Information Order therefore and my question regarding what can reasonably be asked of the debtor in the Court. I would attend the Court hearing rather than leave it to a court administrator.

The bankruptcy limit has been raised to £5000 and hence, you cannot apply to court to bankrupt him. You could have done if you had done this prior to 1 October last year.however bankruptcy is only an attractive proposition for you if he has assets (house in particular) which he does not want to lose.

You could try a Third Party Debt order but it’s only any use if there is enough money in the account to cover the whole debt on the date it is presented. They will not make partial payment.

It doesn’t have to be a bank however it could be anyone that owes this person money.

You can always ask for a Oral Examination

Use court form N316.

Although debtors routinely turn up at court with no information and hence are in contempt of court, and hence, they could be jailed, they never are. The general opinion is that unless you have evidence to the contrary, it’s a waste of time because the judgement debtor will simply lie.

The last known address of the debtor (the father’s address) is good for the service of papers.

What I would suggest that you do is go quiet for 12 months or 18 months and then do another trace and instruct HCE again who will simply turn up out of the blue.

I wish I could give you better news but some debtors, particularly those with no property can be very slippery. just bide your time and then hitting with it out of the blue if nothing is working at the moment.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Please rate the service positive. It’s an important part of the process by which experts get paid.

I can still clarify things for you.

Best wishes.


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Dear FES,
Thank you for this information. I will of course rate your service, thank you. Do please just clarify a few final things for me:
1. With loss of earnings (time spent researching legal work etc instead of private medical / clinical work), and other expenses, he actually now owes me over £5000 despite the CCJ being only for the original £2400. Could I re-apply to have the CCJ amended to be more than £5000 and then ask the court to bankrupt him?
2. Do I definitely need his current bank details to apply for a 3rd party debt order, or is it sufficient to just know who he banks with?
3. I have some bank details but not sure if it is still valid... for a £100, there's no problem with me applying presumably?
4. How can I legally find out if he owns property?
5. If he owes me £2400 and only has £2300 in the bank, are you saying I get nothing?
Appreciate your time.
Dr. Sanjay Banypersad
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I also thought under an Information order (oral examination), debtors had to produce current bank statements, so I can then know his bank details?

The judgement is the judgement. You wouldn’t be able to add further costs to the recovery without going back to court. It’s unlikely that further costs would succeed to the extent of £2600 because a judge would say that it was disproportionate to the original debt.

It’s up to the court Judge whether you have the bank account number or not. What the judge will require from you however is proof that the defendant banks in this bank and that it’s not just a fishing exercise on the off chance that the defenders may have an account with the bank

It doesn’t have to be a bank, it can be anyone you know owes money and has the wherewithal to pay.

The only way you can find out what properties he owns is to use a private investigator or to ask around. The land registry have the information but it’s not available to the public and the court would not grant a court order for them to release it. Police can access it in the case of serious criminal matters.

It was always my understanding that the bank would not make partial payment. However,it appears that my understanding is not correct as you will read here near the bottom of the page under the section headed “What happens….”, the first bullet point.

What you might also want to read is the part about hardship payments because no doubt, if he hasn’t got much money in the account, he’s going to claim hardship.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you very much. Just finally, can a 3rd party debt order be done more than once? I.e. if only half was recovered first time, can it be done again a few months later? Sanjay

There is no legal reason that I am aware of why it cannot be done in chunks but when you’ve had the first tranche of money out, expect the debtor not to use that account again.

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