Warrants to Seize Property
Judgment Debt Recovery Article # 1
This article is the first in a series with detailed information about avenues by which to recover judgment debts. The focus of this article is the warrant to seize property. Additional articles to be included in this series will focus on the warrant of seizure and sale, attachment of debts, attachment of earnings and garnishee orders, winding up proceedings and bankruptcy proceedings.
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In our business debt recovery article series we provided information on the steps involved in the debt recovery process to reach the stage of obtaining a judgment debt or order in default of defence. This included articles about the letter of demand, commencing legal proceedings and entering default judgments, along with general information about modes of recovery after a judgment is obtained.
The general information included within our business debt recovery article about recovering judgment debts and enforcing monetary court orders is elaborated upon in this judgment debt recovery article series.
Warrant to Seize Property
The warrant to seize property is perhaps the most commonly used method of attempting to recover a judgment debt. It is a Court order that names the judgment debtor and orders the Sheriff to seize and sell goods that are owned by the debtor as a part of the debt recovery process, unless the amount of the judgment and costs of the warrant are paid.
After the Court has issued a warrant on the application of the judgment creditor the warrant is sent to the Sheriff's office. The judgment debt itself will include the amount of the creditor's claim, interest and legal costs. Once the warrant is issued costs related to the warrant will also be added. Upon execution of the warrant the Sheriff will seek to recovery all of these amounts along with additional interest accrued since the date of the judgment.
It must be remembered in business debt recovery that there are restrictions on the Sheriff's right to seize certain property and assets. In essence, any property that an individual would be entitled to retain if they became bankrupt cannot be seized by the Sheriff. Examples of assets that cannot be seized include a motor vehicle (provided there is not more than $7,050.00 equity, annually indexed), certain tools of trade and household property. By way of example, a Sheriff could not seize a television set unless the debtor had more than one. Furniture and other household items could generally not be seized, but there is an exception in relation to antique items.
As there are restrictions on the ability to seize certain items, it is important to attempt to ascertain whether the debtor is likely to have any assets that are available for seizure prior to issuing a warrant. However, even if no assets are available a warrant to seize property can sometimes nonetheless achieve the desired result in the debt recovery process. This is due to the fact that the arrival of the Sheriff often causes judgment debtors to somehow 'find' the money to pay the judgment debt, or to at least begin making payments by installments.
As noted in our recovering judgment debts and enforcing monetary court orders, land or 'real property' cannot be seized based upon a Magistrates Court Warrant to Seize Property. A Warrant of Seizure and Sale would be required, and this will be the subject of the next article in this series.
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The other articles now published in this series include:
Please note that the facts and circumstances relevant to every client are different. The above article should not be relied upon as legal advice. Article by Nicholas Corr published 25.8.13. To be notified of new articles: