It is important for both plaintiffs and defendants to know about how to enforce a judgment. This article will detail some of the most common methods.
The starting point for collection is to have the final order or judgment issued and entered by the Court, which enables it to be enforced. The Courts do not enforce a judgment for a party, the party may use the Court processes to collect.
Another important step is to gather information about the debtor: their full legal name, real estate they own, where they work, are they an employee or self-employed, what assets do they have, what bank information is available, etc.
Writ of Seizure and Sale – a common first step is to obtain a writ of seizure and sale from the Courts. This can then be filed with the Sheriff in any jurisdiction where enforcement is going to occur. For example, if the debtor owns real estate in Toronto, the writ of seizure and sale is filed with the Sheriff of the City of Toronto. This will prevent the land from being sold or refinanced without notice to the buyer or lender.
Sale of Land – steps to sell land can be taken 4 months after a writ of seizure and sale is filed with the Sheriff and the sale cannot happen for a further 2 months (6 months in total). Notices are sent out in advance of the sale.
Sale of Personal Property – the Sheriff can be instructed to seize and sell personal property. Notices of the sale are sent out.
Garnishment of Bank Accounts – if the creditor knows the branch at which the debtor banks, then a bank account can be garnished. It is not necessary to have an account number. A notice of garnishment is served on the branch, which will send any funds to the Sheriff.
Garnishment of Wages – if the creditor knows where the debtor works, then the creditor can garnish 20% of the debtors wages. This is straightforward where the debtor is an employee, but more complicated if the debtor is self-employed as a sole proprietor or working for their own company.
Examination in aid of Execution – once per year the creditor can examine the debtor under oath on their assets, debts and income sources to try and identify opportunities for seizure and sale or garnishment.
The steps above are the most common forms of enforcement. There are additional options depending on the circumstances.