Law guide: Complaints and disputes

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Charging order

Charging order

It is an order of the court placing a 'charge' on the judgment debtor's property, such as a house or a piece of land. The charge will be the amount you are owed. The charging order will not normally get you your money immediately, but it may safeguard your money for the future.

Similarly to third party debt orders, the person who owes you the money is referred to as the 'judgment debtor'; you are referred to as the 'judgment creditor'. If the judgment debtor owns stocks or shares or has a fund or money in court, the court can also put a charge on these in much the same way as on property.

A charge on a property means that if the property is sold, the charge has usually to be paid first before any of the proceeds of the sale can be given to the judgment debtor. You should note, however, that a charging order does not compel the judgment debtor to sell the property.

If there are already charges on the property when your charge is registered, for example, arising from a mortgage, then that charge will be paid first.

When can I apply for a charging order?

You can apply at any time after you have obtained judgment. However, the judge who considers your application will not make an order unless the judgment debtor:

  • Has failed to pay the amount of the judgment when it was due
  • Has failed to pay one or more of the instalments due under the terms of the judgment

What do I have to do to apply for a charging order?

You must complete Form N379 (Application for charging order on land or property). You can also get a copy free from any county court.

If you are seeking a charging order against stocks and shares, or money in court, you must complete Form N380 (Application for a charging order on securities).

What information will I need to complete the application form?

You will need:

  • Details of the judgment, that is, when it was made, at what court and under what claim number
  • The full name and address of the judgment debtor
  • The amount of the judgment, including any costs and interest; the amount owing at the time of your application, again including any interest, and the total amount of any instalments, if any, which have not been paid
  • The address of the property or land on which you want to impose a charge
  • Information as to whether the judgment debtor owns the property solely or jointly with someone else, and evidence to prove it
  • Details of any other creditors you know the judgment debtor has, that is, their names and addresses and the nature of their debt
  • Details of any other person who has an interest in the property
  • Details of any additional reasons, apart from the fact you are owed the money, you want the court to take into account when deciding whether or not to grant your application
  • Details of sources of information, that is, who within the organisation supplied the necessary information. This is only relevant if you are a company, corporation or firm

The application contains a statement of truth. You will have to sign it to confirm that the facts stated in it are true. Remember that proceedings for contempt can be brought against you if you sign the statement without an honest belief in its truth.

Will I have to pay a fee?

You may have to pay a court fee.

How do I get the evidence about the property and ownership?

Some, but not all, land or property may be registered at HM Land Registry. If there is a registration you should obtain a copy of the registry entry and attach it to your application.

Information about the procedures and fees charged by the Land Registry can be found on its website.

What will the court do when it receives my application for a charging order?

Court staff will issue your application and refer it to a judge. If the judge is satisfied with the information you have provided, the judge will make an interim charging order. The order will be drawn on Form N86 (Interim charging order). A copy will be sent to you and the judgment debtor.

The order will include the date and time of a hearing at which the judge will decide whether or not to make a final charging order. You must attend that hearing; otherwise the judge may dismiss your application.

If the judge is not satisfied with the information you have given in your application, the court will let you know.

Is there anything I should do when I receive the interim charging order?

Yes, there is. To make sure the charge is effective immediately, you must register it on the Land Registry. You can obtain information about how to do this by ringing the Land Registry's general enquiry line - you can find contact details on the Land Registry website. Court staff can't give advice on this procedure, nor undertake registration for you.

Receipt of the order

What will happen if the judgment debtor objects to the making of a final charging order?

If the judgment debtor (or anyone else who has been served with the interim charging order), wishes to object to the making of a final order, that person must file written evidence and serve a copy on you not less than seven days before the hearing.

You should note that the judgment debtor can make an application for the hearing to take place at another court nearer to their home or place of business.

What will happen at the hearing at which the judge considers whether or not to make a final charging order?

The judge will consider your application and any evidence the judgment debtor or any other person served with your application has filed. If objections have been raised, the judge can deal with them there and then, or give directions for a hearing later on. Directions tell you what you must do to prepare for that hearing. If the judge feels that the objections are justified, your application may be dismissed. If that happens you may not be able to recover the fee you paid to issue the application, and you may have to pay the costs of the party who raised the objections.

If your application is successful, any fees you paid are usually recoverable from the judgment debtor by being added to the judgment. An order will be drawn on Form N87 (Final charging order). You and any other party will be sent a copy.

Do I have to contact the Land Registry after the hearing?

Yes, you do. The Land Registry or (the Land Charges Registry) must be made aware of the making of a final charging order. You must also contact them if your application is dismissed to make sure that the interim charging order is removed from the register.

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