PRACTICE DIRECTION 71 – ORDERS TO OBTAIN INFORMATION FROM JUDGMENT DEBTORS

This practice direction supplements Part 71

Application notice – rule 71.2

1.1  An application by a judgment creditor under rule 71.2(1) must be made by filing an application notice in Practice Form N316 if the application is to question an individual judgment debtor, or N316A if the application is to question an officer of a company or other corporation.

1.2  The application notice must –

(1) state the name and address of the judgment debtor;

(2) identify the judgment or order which the judgment creditor is seeking to enforce;

(3) if the application is to enforce a judgment or order for the payment of money, state the amount presently owed by the judgment debtor under the judgment or order;

(4) if the judgment debtor is a company or other corporation, state –

(a) the name and address of the officer of that body whom the judgment creditor wishes to be ordered to attend court; and

(b) his position in the company;

(5) if the judgment creditor wishes the questioning to be conducted before a judge, state this and give his reasons;

(6) if the judgment creditor wishes the judgment debtor (or other person to be questioned) to be ordered to produce specific documents at court, identify those documents; and

(7) if the application is to enforce a judgment or order which is not for the payment of money, identify the matters about which the judgment creditor wishes the judgment debtor (or officer of the judgment debtor) to be questioned.

1.3  The court officer considering the application notice –

(1) may, in any appropriate case, refer it to a judge (rule 3.2); and

(2) will refer it to a judge for consideration, if the judgment creditor requests the judgment debtor (or officer of the judgment debtor) to be questioned before a judge.

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Order to attend court – rule 71.2

2.1  The order will provide for the judgment debtor (or other person to be questioned) to attend the County Court hearing centre serving the address where the judgment debtor resides or carries on business, unless a judge decides otherwise.

2.2  The order will provide for questioning to take place before a judge only if the judge considering the request decides that there are compelling reasons to make such an order.

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Service of order to attend court – rule 71.3

3  Service of an order to attend court for questioning may be carried out by –

(a) the judgment creditor (or someone acting on the judgment creditor’s behalf)

(b) a High Court enforcement officer; or

(c) a County Court bailiff.

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Attendance at court: normal procedure – rule 71.6

4.1  The court officer will ask a standard series of questions, as set out in the forms in Appendixes A and B to this practice direction. The form in Appendix A will be used if the person being questioned is the judgment debtor, and the form in Appendix B will be used if the person is an officer of a company or other corporation.

4.2  The judgment creditor or his representative may either –

(1) attend court and ask questions himself; or

(2) request the court officer to ask additional questions, by attaching a list of proposed additional questions to his application notice.

4.3  The court officer will –

(1) make a written record of the evidence given, unless the proceedings are tape recorded;

(2) at the end of the questioning, read the record of evidence to the person being questioned and ask him to sign it; and

(3) if the person refuses to sign it, note that refusal on the record of evidence.

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Attendance at court: procedure where the order is to attend before a judge – rule 71.6

5.1  Where the hearing takes places before a judge, the questioning will be conducted by the judgment creditor or his representative, and the standard questions in the forms in Appendixes A and B will not be used.

5.2  The proceedings will be tape recorded and the court will not make a written record of the evidence.

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Failure to comply with order: reference to judge – rule 71.8(1)

6  If a judge or court officer refers to a High Court judge or circuit judge the failure of a judgment debtor to comply with an order under rule 71.2, he shall certify in writing the respect in which the judgment debtor failed to comply with the order.

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Suspended committal order – rule 71.8(2) and (4)(a)

7.1  A committal order will be suspended provided that the person attends court at a time and place specified in the order (rule 71.8(4)(a)(i)). The appointment specified will be –

(1) before a judge, if –

(a) the original order under rule 71.2 was to attend before a judge; or

(b) the judge making the suspended committal order so directs; and

(2) otherwise, before a court officer.

7.2  Rule 71.3 and paragraph 3 of this practice direction (service of order), and rule 71.5(1)(a) and (2) (affidavit of service), apply with the necessary changes to a suspended committal order as they do to an order to attend court.

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Breach of terms on which committal order is suspended – rule 71.8(4)(b)

8.1  If –

(1) the judgment debtor fails to attend court at the time and place specified in the suspended committal order; and

(2) it appears to the judge or court officer that the judgment debtor has been duly served with the order,

the judge or court officer will certify in writing the debtor's failure to attend.

8.2  If the judgment debtor fails to comply with any other term on which the committal order was suspended, the judge or court officer will certify in writing the non-compliance and set out details of it.

8.3  A warrant to bring the judgment debtor before a judge may be issued on the basis of a certificate under paragraph 8.1 or 8.2.

8.4  The hearing under rule 71.8(4)(b) may take place before a master or district judge.

8.5  At the hearing the judge will discharge the committal order unless he is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that –

(1) the judgment debtor has failed to comply with –

(a) the original order to attend court; and

(b) the terms on which the committal order was suspended; and

(2) both orders have been duly served on the judgment debtor.

8.6  If the judge decides that the committal order should not be discharged, a warrant of committal shall be issued immediately.

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Appendix A

General

EX140 Record of Examination (individual)

Available on the forms page.

Appendix B

General

EX141 Record of Examination (officer of company or corporation)

Available on the forms page.

Ministry of Justice

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