Even if you are successful at the trial, the respondent may refuse to pay, they may claim they aren’t able to pay or take a very long time to pay you. If this occurs there are a number of things you can do to recover the money. Contact the CourtSA Registry on 8204 2444 to receive some procedural advice or contact the Legal Services Commission on 1300 366 424 for advice on how to recover your money.
An investigation summons requires the respondent now referred to as the judgment debtor to come back to court for an investigation of how they may pay you. They will be summonsed to appear in court. You will also need to appear in court at the same time if the summons has been served.
To ensure the summons has been served and that the matter will be listed for hearing on that date please contact the CourtSA Registry on (08) 8204 2444 on the day prior to the hearing.
The court will investigate the means of the judgment debtor has to pay the judgment amount. You will be given an opportunity to ask about the judgment debtors ability to pay. Once the investigation is complete, the court will make an order for payment according to what the court decides the judgment debtor is able to pay. This means the court can order payments to be made in instalments at regular intervals. For example, $50 every month until the full amount is paid. Remember though, the court will only make the judgment debtor pay an amount they can afford so it is likely to take some time for you to recover the full amount.
If two payments are not met, you can issue the judgment debtor with an examination summons. This means that the judgment debtor will have to come back to court and explain why payment was not made. The court has the power to adjust any payment order it made previously in order for the judgment debtor to comply.
Warrant of sale
A warrant of sale can be ordered by the court for a Sheriff’s officer to seize and sell goods owned by the judgment debtor to settle the debt. Goods to the value of the amount owed will be seized and sold. A warrant of sale is valid for 12 months from the date it is issued by the court. There is a cost to issue and execute a warrant of sale (see Fees payable to Sheriff’s Officers)
A warrant of sale will not allow certain goods owned by the defendant to be seized and sold. This includes:
- items used for the purpose of earning a living
- goods on hire or lease agreements
- household goods, clothes and vehicles that are worth less than $2 500.
A charging order is an order that can be made if you know that the judgment debtor owns real estate in their own name. The court can issue an order stating that the judgment debtor cannot sell or transfer the land until the debt is paid. A charging order can be registered with the Lands Titles Office to ensure the property cannot be dealt with in any way until the debt is paid.
A garnishee order can be issued if you know someone else owes the judgment debtor money (e.g. bank account, wages but only with the debtor’s consent). This order from the court will direct that the money owed to the judgment debtor be paid directly to you, so that you can ensure any money coming to them is used to settle the debt to you.