Several litigants in person have come to me recently about enforcing their county court and tribunal money judgments. They won their cases a few years ago, but the other side haven’t paid.
Is getting judgment debtors to pay what they owe normally a problem? The short answer is, “yes”.
According to the Ministry of Justice’s 2009 research, while 53% of Employment Tribunal awards are paid in full, 39% are only part-paid – and 8% are never paid.
The figures also show 40% didn’t realise that getting a judgment is only the first step in the battle to get their money – and that they needed to go on to start enforcement proceedings to compel their opponent to pay.
Enforcement of judgments and orders is a specialist subject – and can be as much as an emotional roller-coaster as the main litigation itself.
If you have a county court judgment you need to enforce, HMCTS’s Form EX321: “I have a judgment but the defendant hasn’t paid- what do I do?”, is a good guide to the different methods of enforcement available.
But if you’ve just been through the mill with an Employment Tribunal, you may wonder if the battle with your former colleagues will never end. I wonder if some employers know this and play the long game in the hope that you’ll give up – or accept a sum less that what the Tribunal has awarded.
To redress the balance, in 2010, the Government introduced its “Fast Track” scheme to simplify the enforcement process. You complete the Fast Track Enforcement form, send it with the original Employment Tribunal order and £60.00 to the Registry Trust Ltd – and they will assign your case to a solicitor who will make an application to the court for a writ of Fi Fa on your behalf. Once the court has approved the solicitor’s application, the solicitor will appoint a High Court Enforcement Officer (formerly known as “High Court Sheriff”) to enforce the order and recover the money owed on your behalf.
While the Fast Track scheme may not be “problem solved” in every case, many DIY Employment Tribunal litigants will be relieved to turn drafting of the necessary court paper-work to a solicitor and enforcement of the their awards over to experienced HCEOs.