We occasionally receive enquiries with regard to unrecovered County Court Judgments which have been obtained more than 6 years ago.
The Limitation Act 1980 states that enforcement action cannot be commenced in respect of a Judgment Order after 6 years from the date upon which the Judgment became enforceable. Enforcement action is the process required to effectively force payment out of the judgment debtor e.g. by instructing Bailiffs/High Court Enforcement Officers, applying for Third Party Debt Orders or Charging Orders etc. Please click here if you wish to find out more about enforcement.
However, there are exceptions to the 6 year rule. There is case law whereupon a party was permitted to enforce an outstanding Judgment debt 11½ years later. In this particular case the debtor had left the country and only returned after 11 years hence the reason why no enforcement action could be taken during the intervening period. It was established in this case that whilst the legislation does not allow the bringing of a fresh action, execution (i.e. enforcment) of an existing Judgment Order did not count as a fresh action and therefore the Claimant was able to take enforcement action. However, they were not permitted to recover any further interest beyond the expiry of the 6 year period.
Permission of the Court is required if a party wishes to enforce a Judgment debt which is more than 6 years old. A formal application is required to be issued at Court. The Court will consider all matters in such applications and if there has simply been a delay without explanation, permission may be more difficult to obtain. It is always advisable (unless there is good reason otherwise) to take enforcement action as soon as possible after obtain a County Court Judgment but in circumstances where matters have had to be left in abeyance for over 6 years, we may be able to assist.
If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact Kris Minks on 0151 649 1790 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.