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If there is a judgment that says the other party must pay you money or return your goods and they don't do this, there are some things you can do. This process is called 'enforcing the judgment' or 'enforcement'.
You can start enforcement if the other party does not do what is set out in the judgment within the time given in the judgment.
This is usually 28 days. You must wait until the time given has passed before you can begin enforcing the court judgment. You can then enforce the judgment unless the other person has:
You have 12 years from the date of a judgment to enforce it. If you want to enforce a judgment older than this, you should get legal advice.
You can enforce orders for money or goods as set out in the judgment, including costs and pre judgment interest.
You can add the costs of enforcement, such as filing and service fees.
You may be able to add interest to the debt from the date of the judgment until it is paid. This is called post judgment interest. You can only claim this if the other party does not pay all of the judgment debt within 28 days of the date of judgment.
Before you take action to enforce the judgment, you should consider whether the defendant has any income or assets to pay the debt, or pay for the value of the goods if the goods cannot be returned.
You will have to pay fees for some types of enforcement action. These fees will be added to the judgment debt but if the defendant does not have any way of paying you, you may end up wasting your money.
There are a number of different ways you can enforce a judgment and you should think about which option will be best in your situation. If you are not sure, you should get legal advice.
If you don't have any information about the other party's financial situation, you can ask them to provide information about their income, expenses and assets. This is done with an examination notice.
If they don't respond within a certain time, you can ask the court to order them to come to court so they can be questioned about their income, expenses and assets. This is called an examination order. This information can help you decide whether to take further enforcement action and what action to take.
For more information, see Examination notice and Examination order.
You can ask the court to make an order that the sheriff take and sell property belonging to the other party. The sheriff can then sell this property to pay the debt.
In some cases having the sheriff come to their door will encourage the other party to try to make arrangements to pay you.
For more information, see Writ for the levy of property.
If you have a judgment for goods you can ask the court to make an order that the sheriff take the goods and return them to you.
A writ for the delivery of goods can only be used if the court ordered that your goods be returned to you. If the court ordered the other party to pay you money equal to the value of the goods you can use the other enforcement options described on this page.
For more information, see Writ for the delivery of goods.
A garnishee order is an order from the court to have money taken from:
For more information, see Garnishee orders.
If the judgment debt is more than $10,000 you may be able to make the other party bankrupt by applying to the Federal Circuit Court or the Federal Court. This is an expensive and complicated way of enforcing a debt. Before taking this action, you should get legal advice.
Winding up is similar to bankruptcy. To wind up a company you must show that it is insolvent (unable to pay its debts). This can be done by issuing a statutory demand. If the other party does not respond to a statutory demand within 21 days you can file an application for a winding up order in the Supreme Court.
This is an expensive and complicated way of enforcing the debt. Before taking this action, you should get legal advice.
If you want to enforce a money order from the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) you must first register it as a judgment of the Local Court.
For more information, see Enforcing NCAT orders.
If you want to enforce a money order from another state you must first register it as a judgment of the Local Court.
For more information, see Enforcing interstate judgments.
A stay of enforcement (sometimes called a stay of proceedings) is an order of the court that stops you from enforcing the judgment for a period of time.
The other party may apply for a stay of enforcement at the same time they apply to set aside a default judgment or they may apply if they want to stop enforcement so that they can make other arrangements to pay a debt or return goods. You will need to decide if you agree or disagree with the other party's application.
For more information, see Stay of enforcement.