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Enforcement of judgments

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In my last article the emphasis was on the various methods of enforcing a money judgment. The most commonly used being a writ of fieri facias, appointment of receiver and garnishee proceeding. Enforcement of orders could also be obtained for the possession of land, delivery of goods and payment of money into court. Enforcement orders requiring a person or body corporate to do an act within a specified time or not to do an act may also be obtained.{{more}}

An order for the recovery of land and property may be enforced by means of a writ for possession, a committal order or sequestration of assets order. Sequestration or committal orders may only be imposed if the debtor was required to do or not to do an act within a specific time on a specific day and the order was served personally on the debtor. The court will give the debtor a reasonable time to perform the act.

The order must carry a penal notice to the effect that if the person fails to comply with the order, proceedings for contempt of court may be commenced and the person may be liable to be imprisoned. A similar notice is given on an order to a corporate body but the liability to imprisonment is not included. It would, however, be included if an officer of the corporation is named in the order. The penal notice is often typed in bold letters at the end of the order.

Enforcement orders against the judgment debtor for the possession of goods may be enforced by a writ for delivery, committal or sequestration of assets order. These are, however, dependent on the type of judgment granted by the court. If the judgment debtor is given a choice to deliver the goods or to pay the assessed value of the goods then enforcement would be by way of writ. If no choice is given then enforcement order may be for committal or sequestration of assets. Committal orders could also be obtained if the judgment creditor applies to the court requiring the judgment debtor to deliver goods by a specified time and date.

Conclusion

Enforcement is vital for the authority of the court otherwise its judgment would be hollow and ineffective. The writ of fieri facias is the most common form of enforcement. However, there are risks involved as items in the possession of the judgment debtor and belonging to another may be seized to satisfy the judgment debt. The bailiff has a right to seize money, goods or chattel found on the judgment debtors premises but not that belonging to another. Nonetheless, if money, goods or chattel of a third person are seized the owner may approach the court for relief. Notice must be given to the registrar and the appropriate application will be made to the court.

It must be noted that expenses are incurred in executing a judgment order. Expenses are usually defrayed by the judgment debtor. Meanwhile, interest could be accumulating on the debt. Hence it may be prudent to meet the judgment debt as early as possible to avoid the added expenses.



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