Small Claims Court

What if the defendant won’t pay?

If a defendant won’t meet a judgment order to pay you, you can take enforcement action. But first it’s worth checking the debtor can afford to pay you. Remember – the court can’t guarantee payment.

You may already know the financial situation of your debtor. If not, you can ask the court for an order to obtain information from the judgment debtor. This orders your debtor to go to court for questioning under oath about their finances.

Taking action

Once you know your debtor’s circumstances, you can decide whether it’s worth using one of a range of enforcement actions. You might use:

  • a warrant of execution, which allows court bailiffs to take goods from your debtor’s home or business
  • an attachment of earnings order, which asks your debtor’s employer to deduct the money owed to you from their pay
  • a third-party debt order, which stops your debtor withdrawing money from their bank or building society
  • a charging order, which prevents your debtor selling assets without paying you

Visit the Court Service website for more about procedure rules.

You should bear in mind that you have to pay fees to bring an action. The court will add these fees to the amount you’re owed but this is still no guarantee you’ll be reimbursed. Go to the Court Service website for more information on the fees involved.

As a last resort, if the amount you’re owed is more than £750, you can apply to make an individual debtor bankrupt, or institute insolvency proceedings if the debtor is a limited company. But remember: such proceedings can be costly.

Small Claims Court business advice based on Crown Copyright © 2004-2013

This business advice covers the Small Claims process in England & Wales. The Small Claims process in Scotland can be found at the Scottish Courts web site

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1 Comment

  1. I have been cheated out of £10,000. Can I still take this to the small claims court?
    J.Parry

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