CCR ORDER 27 - ATTACHMENT OF EARNINGS

Part I – General

Interpretation

Rule 1

(1) In this order –

‘the Act of 1971’ means the Attachment of Earnings Act 19711 and, unless the context otherwise requires, expressions used in that Act have the same meanings as in that Act

'judgment creditor' means the person who has obtained or is entitled to enforce a judgment or order;

'debtor' means the person against whom a judgment or order was given or made.

Index of orders

Rule 2

(1) The court shall keep a nominal index of the debtors within the district of his court in respect of whom there are in force attachment of earnings orders which have been made by the court or of which the court officer has received notice from another court.

(2) Where a debtor in respect of whom a court has made an attachment of earnings order resides within the district of another court, the court officer of the first-mentioned court shall send a copy of the order to the court officer of the other court for entry in his index.

(3) A court officer shall, on the request of any person having a judgment or order against a person, cause a search to be made in the index of the court and issue a certificate of the result of the search.

Appropriate court

Rule 3

(1) Subject to paragraphs (2), (3) and (4), an application for an attachment of earnings order must be made at the County Court hearing centre which serves the address where the debtor resides.

(2) Subject to paragraph (4), if the debtor does not reside within England or Wales, or the creditor does not know where the debtor resides, the application may be made to the County Court hearing centre in which the judgment or order sought to be enforced was obtained.

(3) Subject to paragraph (4), where the creditor applies for attachment of earnings orders in respect of two or more debtors jointly liable under a judgment or order, the application may be made to the County Court hearing centre which serves the address at which any of the debtors resides. However, if the judgment or order was given or made at any other hearing centre, the application shall be made there.

(4) Where the judgment was made in the County Court Money Claims Centre and the proceedings have not since been transferred or sent to a court, the application must be made in accordance with section 2 of Practice Direction 70.

Mode of applying

Rule 4

(1) A judgment creditor who desires to apply for an attachment of earnings order shall file the application certifying the amount of money remaining due under the judgment or order and that the whole or part of any instalment due remains unpaid and, where it is sought to enforce an order of a magistrates’ court –

(a) a certified copy of the order; and

(b) a witness statement or affidavit verifying the amount due under the order or, if payments under the order are required to be made to the magistrates’ court, a certificate from the magistrates' court to the same effect.

(2) On the filing of the documents mentioned in paragraph (1) the court officer shall, where the order to be enforced is a maintenance order, fix a day for the hearing of the application.

Service and reply

Rule 5

(1) Notice of the application together with a form of reply in the appropriate form, shall be served on the debtor in the manner set out in CPR rule 6.20.

(2) The debtor shall, within 8 days after service of the documents mentioned in paragraph (1), file a reply in the form provided, and the instruction to that effect in the notice to the debtor shall constitute a requirement imposed by virtue of section 14(4) of the Act of 1971. Provided that no proceedings shall be taken for an offence alleged to have been committed under section 23(2)(c) or (f) of the Act of 1971 in relation to the requirement unless the said documents have been served on the debtor personally or the court is satisfied that they came to the debtor's knowledge in sufficient time to comply with the requirement.

(2A) Nothing in paragraph (2) shall require a debtor to file a reply if, within the period of time mentioned in that paragraph, the debtor pays to the judgment creditor the money remaining due under the judgment or order and, where such payment is made, the judgment creditor shall so inform the court officer.

(3) On receipt of a reply the court officer shall send a copy to the applicant.

Notice to employer

Rule 6

Without prejudice to the powers conferred by section 14(1) of the Act of 1971, the court officer may, at any stage of the proceedings, send to any person appearing to have the debtor in their employment a notice requesting them to give to the court, within such period as may be specified in the notice, a statement of the debtor’s earnings and anticipated earnings with such particulars as may be so specified.

Attachment of earnings order

Rule 7

(1) On receipt of the debtor’s reply, the court officer may, if there is sufficient information to do so, make an attachment of earnings order and a copy of the order shall be sent to the parties and to the debtor’s employer.

(2) Where an order is made under paragraph (1), the judgment creditor or the debtor may, within 14 days of service of the order on them and giving their reasons, apply on notice for the order to be re-considered and the court officer shall fix a day for the hearing of the application and give to the judgment creditor and the debtor not less than 2 days’ notice of the day so fixed.

(3) On hearing an application under paragraph (2), the District Judge may confirm the order or set it aside and make such new order as the District Judge thinks fit and the order so made shall be entered in the records of the court.

(4) Where an order is not made under paragraph (1), the court officer shall refer the application to the District Judge who shall, if the District Judge considers that there is sufficient information to do so without the attendance of the parties, determine the application.

(5) Where the District Judge does not determine the application under paragraph (4), they shall direct that a day be fixed for the hearing of the application whereupon the court officer shall fix such a day and give to the judgment creditor and the debtor not less than 8 days’ notice of the day so fixed.

(6) Where an order is made under paragraph (4), the judgment creditor or the debtor may, within 14 days of service of the order on them and giving reasons, apply on notice for the order to be re-considered; and the court officer shall fix a day for the hearing of the application and give to the judgment creditor and the debtor not less than 2 days’ notice of the day so fixed.

(7) On hearing an application under paragraph (6), the District Judge may confirm the order or set it aside and make such new order as the District Judge thinks fit and the order so made shall be entered in the records of the court.

(8) If the creditor does not appear at the hearing of the application under paragraph (5) but –

(a) the court has received a witness statement or affidavit of evidence from the creditor; or

(b) the creditor requests the court in writing to proceed in the creditor's absence, the court may proceed to hear the application and to make an order thereon.

(9) An attachment of earnings order may be made to secure the payment of a judgment debt if the debt is –

(a) of not less than £50; or

(b) for the amount remaining payable under a judgment for a sum of not less than £50.

Failure by debtor

Rule 7A

(1) If the debtor has failed to comply with rule 5(2) or to make payment to the judgment creditor, the court officer may issue an order under section 14(1) of the Act of 1971 which shall –

(a) be indorsed with or incorporate a notice warning the debtor of the consequences of disobedience to the order;

(b) be served on the debtor personally; and

(c) direct that any payments made thereafter shall be paid into the court and not direct to the judgment creditor.

(2) Without prejudice to rule 16, if the person served with an order made pursuant to paragraph (1) fails to obey it or to file a statement of means or to make payment, the court officer shall issue a notice calling on that person to show good reason why they should not be imprisoned and any such notice shall be served on the debtor personally not less than 5 days before the hearing.

(3) Omitted

Order 29, rule 1 shall apply, with the necessary modifications and with the substitution of references to the district judge for references to the judge, where a notice is issued under paragraph (2) or (4) of that rule.

(4) In this rule ‘statement of means’ means a statement given under section 14(1) of the Act of 1971.

Suspended committal order

Rule 7B

(1) If the debtor fails to attend at an adjourned hearing of an application for an attachment of earnings order and a committal order is made, the judge or District Judge may direct that the committal order shall be suspended so long as the debtor attends at the time and place specified in the committal order and paragraphs (2), (4) and (5) of Order 28, rule 7 shall apply, with the necessary modifications, where such a direction is given as they apply where a direction is given under paragraph (1) of that rule.

(2) Where a committal order is suspended under paragraph (1) and the debtor fails to attend at the time and place specified under paragraph (1), a certificate to that effect given by the court officer shall be sufficient authority for the issue of a warrant of committal.

Failure by debtor – maintenance orders

Rule 8

(1) An order made under section 23(1) of the Act of 19712 for the attendance of the debtor at an adjourned hearing of an application for an attachment of earnings order to secure payments under a maintenance order shall –

(a) be served on the debtor personally not less than 5 days before the day fixed for the adjourned hearing; and

(b) direct that any payments made thereafter shall be paid into the court and not direct to the judgment creditor.

(2) An application by a debtor for the revocation of an order committing him to prison and, if he is already in custody, for his discharge under subsection (7) of the said section 23 shall be made to the judge or district judge in writing without notice to any other party showing the reasons for the debtor’s failure to attend the court or his refusal to be sworn or to give evidence, as the case may be, and containing an undertaking by the debtor to attend the court or to be sworn or to give evidence when next ordered or required to do so.

(3) The application shall, if the debtor has already been lodged in prison, be attested by the governor of the prison (or any other officer of the prison not below the rank of principal officer) and in any other case be made on witness statement or affidavit.

(4) Before dealing with the application the judge or district judge may, if he thinks fit, cause notice to be given to the judgment creditor that the application has been made and of a day and hour when he may attend and be heard.

Costs

Rule 9

(1) Where costs are allowed to the judgment creditor on an application for an attachment of earnings order, there may be allowed–

(a) a charge of a solicitor for attending the hearing and, if the court so directs, for serving the application;

(b) if the court certifies that the case is fit for counsel, a fee to counsel; and

(c) the court fee on the issue of the application.

(2) For the purpose of paragraph (1)(a) a solicitor who has prepared on behalf of the judgment creditor a witness statement or affidavit or request under rule 7(8) shall be treated as having attended the hearing.

(3) The costs may be fixed and allowed without detailed assessment under CPR Part 47.

Contents and service of order

Rule 10

(1) An attachment of earnings order shall contain such of the following particulars relating to the debtor as are known to the court, namely –

(a) the debtor's full name and address;

(b) the debtor's place of work; and

(c) the nature of the debtor's work and works number, if any,

which shall be the prescribed particulars for the purposes of section 6(3) of the Act of 1971.

(2) An attachment of earnings order and any order varying or discharging such an order shall be served on the debtor and on the person to whom the order is directed, and CPR Part 6 and CPR rules 40.4 and 40.5 shall apply with the further modification that where the order is directed to a corporation which has requested the court that any communication relating to the debtor or to the class of persons to whom the debtor belongs shall be directed to the corporation at a particular address, service may, if the District Judge thinks fit, be effected on the corporation at that address.

(3) Where an attachment of earnings order is made to enforce a judgment or order of the High Court or a magistrates’ court, a copy of the attachment of earnings order and of any order discharging it shall be sent by the court officer of the county court to the court officer of the High Court, or, as the case may be, the magistrates’ court.

Application to determine whether particular payments are earnings

Rule 11

An application to the court under section 16 of the Act of 1971 to determine whether payments to the debtor of a particular class or description are earnings for the purpose of an attachment of earnings order may be made to the District Judge in writing and the court officer shall thereupon fix a date and time for the hearing of the application by the court and give notice thereof to the persons mentioned in the said section 16(2)(a), (b) and (c).

Notice of cesser

Rule 12

Where an attachment of earnings order ceases to have effect under section 8(4) of the Act of 1971, the court officer of the court in which the matter is proceeding shall give notice of the cesser to the person to whom the order was directed.

Variation and discharge by court of own initiative

Rule 13

(1) Subject to paragraph (9), the powers conferred by section 9(1) of the Act of 1971 may be exercised by the court of its own initiative in the circumstances mentioned in the following paragraphs.

(2) Where it appears to the court that a person served with an attachment of earnings order does not employ the debtor, the court may discharge the order.

(3) Where an attachment of earnings order which has lapsed under section 9(4) of the Act of 1971 is again directed to a person who appears to the court to employ the debtor, the court may make such consequential variations in the order as it thinks fit.

(4) Where, after making an attachment of earnings order, the court makes or is notified of the making of another such order in respect of the same debtor which is not to secure the payment of a judgment debt or payments under an administration order, the court may discharge or vary the first-mentioned order having regard to the priority accorded to the other order by paragraph 8 of Schedule 3 to the Act of 1971.

(5) Where, after making an attachment of earnings order, the court makes an order under section 4(1)(b) of the Act of 19713 or makes an administration order, the court may discharge the attachment of earnings order or, if it exercises the power conferred by section 5(3) of the said Act, may vary the order in such manner as it thinks fit.

(6) On making a consolidated attachment of earnings order the court may discharge any earlier attachment of earnings order made to secure the payment of a judgment debt by the same debtor.

(7) Where it appears to the court that a bankruptcy order has been made against a person in respect of whom an attachment of earnings order is in force to secure the payment of a judgment debt, the court may discharge the attachment of earnings order.

(8) Where an attachment of earnings order has been made to secure the payment of a judgment debt and the court grants permission to issue execution for the recovery of the debt, the court may discharge the order.

(9) Before varying or discharging an attachment of earnings order of its own initiative under any of the foregoing paragraphs of this rule, the court shall, unless it thinks it unnecessary in the circumstances to do so, give the debtor and the person on whose application the order was made an opportunity of being heard on the question whether the order should be varied or discharged, and for that purpose the court officer may give them notice of a date, time and place at which the question will be considered.

Transfer of attachment order

Rule 14

(1) Where the court by which the question of making a consolidated attachment order falls to be considered is not the court by which any attachment of earnings order has been made to secure the payment of a judgment debt by the debtor, the District Judge of the last-mentioned court shall, at the request of the District Judge of the first-mentioned court, transfer to that court the matter in which the attachment of earnings order was made.

(2) Without prejudice to paragraph (1), if in the opinion of the judge or District Judge of any court by which an attachment of earnings order has been made, the matter could more conveniently proceed in some other court, whether by reason of the debtor having become resident in the district of that court or otherwise, the District Judge may order the matter to be transferred to that court.

(3) The court to which proceedings arising out of an attachment of earnings are transferred under this rule shall have the same jurisdiction in relation to the order as if it has been made by that court.

Exercise of power to obtain statement of earnings etc.

Rule 15

(1) An order under section 14(1) of the Act of 1971 shall be indorsed with or incorporate a notice warning the person to whom it is directed of the consequences of disobedience to the order and shall be served on them personally.

(2) Order 34, rule 2, shall apply, with the necessary modifications, in relation to any penalty for failure to comply with an order under the said section 14(1) or, subject to the proviso to rule 5(2), any penalty for failure to comply with a requirement mentioned in that rule, as it applies in relation to a fine under section 55 of the County Courts Act 19844.

Offences

Rule 16

(1) Where it is alleged that a person has committed any offence mentioned in section 23(2)(a), (b), (d), (e) or (f) of the Act of 1971 in relation to proceedings in, or to an attachment of earnings order made by, the County Court, the District Judge shall, unless it is decided to proceed against the alleged offender summarily, issue a summons calling upon the alleged offender to show cause why the alleged offender should not be punished for the alleged offence.

The summons shall be served on the alleged offender personally not less than 14 days before the return day.

(2) Order 34, rules 3 and 4, shall apply, with the necessary modifications, to proceedings for an offence under section 23(2) of the Act of 1971 as they apply to proceedings for offences under the County Courts Act 19845.

Maintenance orders

Rule 17

(1) The foregoing rules of this order shall apply in relation to maintenance payments as they apply in relation to a judgment debt, subject to the following paragraphs.

(2) An application for an attachment of earnings order to secure payments under a maintenance order made by a county court shall be made to that county court.

(3) Any application under section 32 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 19736 for permission to enforce the payment of arrears which became due more than 12 months before the application for an attachment of earnings order shall be made in that application.

(3A) Notice of the application together with a form of reply in the appropriate form, shall be served on the debtor in the manner set out in CPR rule 6.20. (3B) Service of the notice shall be effected not less than 21 days before the hearing, but service may be effected at any time before the hearing on the applicant satisfying the court by witness statement or affidavit that the respondent is about to remove from his address for service. (3C) Rule 5(2A) shall not apply.

(4) An application by the debtor for an attachment of earnings order to secure payments under a maintenance order may be made on the making of the maintenance order or an order varying the maintenance order, and rules 4 and 5 shall not apply.

(5) Rule 7 shall have effect as if for paragraphs (1) to (8) there were substituted the following paragraph – ‘(1) An application for an attachment of earnings order may be heard and determined by the district judge, who shall hear the application in private.’

(6) Rule 9 shall apply as if for the reference to the amount payable under the relevant adjudication there were substituted a reference to the arrears due under the related maintenance order.

(7) Where an attachment of earnings order made by the High Court designates the court officer of a county court as the collecting officer, that officer shall, on receipt of a certified copy of the order from the court officer of the High Court, send to the person to whom the order is directed a notice as to the mode of payment.

(8) Where an attachment of earnings order made by a county court to secure payments under a maintenance order ceases to have effect and –

(a) the related maintenance order was made by that court; or

(b) the related maintenance order was an order of the High Court and –

(i) the court officer of the county court has received notice of the cessation from the court officer of the High Court; or

(ii) a committal order has been made in the county court for the enforcement of the related maintenance order,

the court officer of the county court shall give notice of the cessation to the person to whom the attachment of earnings order was directed.

(9) Where an attachment of earnings order has been made by a county court to secure payments under a maintenance order, notice under section 10(2) of the Act of 1971 to the debtor and to the person to whom the district judge is required to pay sums received under the order shall be in the form provided for that purpose, and if the debtor wishes to request the court to discharge the attachment of earnings order or to vary it otherwise than by making the appropriate variation, he shall apply to the court, within 14 days after the date of the notice, for the remedy desired.

(10) Rule 13 shall have effect as if for paragraphs (4) to (7) there were substituted the following paragraph –

‘(4) Where it appears to the court by which an attachment of earnings order has been made that the related maintenance order has ceased to have effect, whether by virtue of the terms of the maintenance order or under section 28 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 19737 or otherwise, the court may discharge or vary the attachment of earnings order.’

Part II – Consolidated Attachment of Earnings Orders

Cases in which consolidated order may be made

Rule 18

Subject to the provisions of rules 19 to 21, the court may make a consolidated attachment order where –

(a) two or more attachment of earnings orders are in force to secure the payment of judgment debts by the same debtor; or

(b) on an application for an attachment of earnings order to secure the payment of a judgment debt, or for a consolidated attachment order to secure the payment of two or more judgment debts, it appears to the court that an attachment of earnings order is already in force to secure the payment of a judgment debt by the same debtor.

Application for consolidated order

Rule 19

(1) An application for a consolidated attachment order may be made –

(a) by the debtor in respect of whom the order is sought; or

(b) by any person who has obtained or is entitled to apply for an attachment of earnings order to secure the payment of a judgment debt by that debtor.

(2) An application under paragraph (1) may be made in the proceedings in which any attachment of earnings order (other than a priority order) is in force and rules 3, 4 and 5 of this order shall not apply.

(3) Where the judgment which it is sought to enforce was not given by the court which made the attachment of earnings order, the judgment shall be automatically transferred to the court which made the attachment of earnings order.

(3A) An application under paragraph (1)(b) shall certify the amount of money remaining due under the judgment or order and that the whole or part of any instalment due remains unpaid.

(3B) Where an application for a consolidated attachment of earnings order is made, the court officer shall –

(a) notify any party who may be affected by the application of its terms; and

(b) require that party to notify the court in writing, within 14 days of service of notification, giving reasons for any objection to the granting of the application.

(3C) If notice of any objection is not given within the time stated, the court officer shall make a consolidated attachment of earnings order.

(3D) If any party objects to the making of a consolidated attachment of earnings order, the court officer shall refer the application to the District Judge who may grant the application after considering the objection made and the reasons given.

(3E) In the foregoing paragraphs of this rule, a party affected by the application means –

(a) where the application is made by the debtor, the creditor in the proceedings in which the application is made and any other creditor who has obtained an attachment of earnings order which is in force to secure the payment of a judgment debt by the debtor;

(b) where the application is made by the judgment creditor, the debtor and every person who, to the knowledge of the applicant, has obtained an attachment of earnings order which is in force to secure the payment of a judgment debt by the debtor.

(4) A person to whom two or more attachment of earnings orders are directed to secure the payment of judgment debts by the same debtor may request the court in writing to make a consolidated attachment order to secure the payment of those debts, and on receipt of such a request paragraphs (3B) to (3E) shall apply, with the necessary modifications, as if the request were an application by the judgment creditor.

Making of consolidated order by court of its own initiative

Rule 20

Where an application is made for an attachment of earnings order to secure the payment of a judgment debt by a debtor in respect of whom an attachment of earnings order is already in force to secure the payment of another judgment debt and no application is made for a consolidated attachment order, the court officer may make such an order of their own initiative after giving all persons concerned an opportunity of submitting written objections.

Extension of consolidated order

Rule 21

(1) Where a consolidated attachment order is in force to secure the payment of two or more judgment debts, any creditor to whom another judgment debt is owed by the same judgment debtor may apply to the court by which the order was made for it to be extended so as to secure the payment of that debt as well as the first-mentioned debts and, if the application is granted, the court may either vary the order accordingly or may discharge it and make a new consolidated attachment order to secure payment of all the aforesaid judgment debts.

(2) An application under this rule shall be treated for the purposes of rules 19 and 20 as an application for a consolidated attachment order.

Paments under consolidated order

Rule 22

Instead of complying with section 13 of the Act of 1971, a court officer who receives payments made in compliance with a consolidated attachment order shall, after deducting such court fees, if any, in respect of proceedings for or arising out of the order as are deductible from those payments, deal with the sums paid as if they had been paid by the debtor to satisfy the relevant adjudications in proportion to the amounts payable thereunder, and for that purpose dividends may from time to time be declared and distributed among the creditors entitled thereto.

Footnotes

1. 1971 c.32. Return to footnote 1
2. 1971 c.32; section 23(1) was amended by the Administration of Justice Act 1982 (c.53), section 53(2). Return to footnote 2
3. 1971 c.32; section 4 was amended by the Insolvency Act 1976 (c.60), section 13(2); and by the County Courts Act 1984 (c.28), section 148(1), Schedule 2, Part V, paragraph 40. Return to footnote 3
4. 1984 c.28. Return to footnote 4
5. 1984 c.28. Return to footnote 5
6. 1973 c.18. Return to footnote 6
7. 1973 c.18; section 28(1) was amended by the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 (c.42), section 5. Return to footnote 7
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