It can often be the case that a successful party to litigation incurs significant legal costs to obtain a judgment for debt or damages, only to discover that the unsuccessful party (i.e., the judgment debtor) does not have the means to pay.

The question of whether a judgment debtor can afford to pay should be one of, if not the most, important consideration a party seeking monetary relief must satisfy themselves of at the outset of any litigation to avoid throwing good money after bad. Similarly, a party who has successfully obtained judgment for payment (i.e., a judgment creditor) should investigate and consider whether enforcing the judgment is going to be worthwhile.

One option available under the Civil Procedure Rules, which governs civil litigation, is to apply to court to require the judgment debtor or an officer of a company (in respect of a corporate entity) to attend court to provide information for the purpose of enabling the judgment creditor to take enforcement action against them.

The individual or officer of the company in question will be required to attend court to be questioned under oath by a court officer or, in certain circumstances, in the presence of a judge.

A judgment creditor can seek information about the judgment debtor’s means and any other matter which could help the judgment creditor determine what, if any, method of enforcement is appropriate.

In the case of a company, this includes information relating to its:

  • current operational status;
  • cash reserves;
  • overdraft facilities;
  • assets and real property;
  • liabilities; and
  • subsidiary companies.

In the case of an individual, information can be sought as to their:

  • employment status and details;
  • if self-employed, annual turnover, profit and drawings, and future contracts to be fulfilled;
  • if retired, pension details;
  • residence and property; and
  • savings, investments, and other assets.

A person who fails to comply with an order to attend court and/or does not provide the information requested can be held to be in contempt of court, which can lead to a suspended order punishable by a fine, imprisonment or confiscation of assets.

The potential consequences for an individual or officer of a judgment debtor company mean that the process can be an effective means of investigation to determine whether to expend further time and cost to take enforcement action. The notion of attending court could cause the judgment debtor to voluntarily provide the information sought or seek an amicable resolution.

If you have successfully obtained judgment against a party but have been unable to recover payment and want to understand your options to enforce, please get in touch with our Dispute Resolution department at or alternatively on 0116 289 7000.

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