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March 31, 2015
Enforcement Proceedings in Western Australia

By Kristy Lewis

If you are a successful litigant with a judgment against a third party (Judgment Debtor), and the Judgment Debtor is refusing to pay the judgment debt, you can take further action to recover the debt. Such action is known as enforcement proceedings.

If you wish to commence enforcement proceedings there are various options available to you. However, a successful litigant will most commonly commence enforcement proceedings by way of applying to the court for one of the following orders:

A Property (Seizure and Sale) Order (PSSO), or

A Means Enquiry Order

The Role of a Property (Seizure and Sale) Order or PSSO

A PSSO is an order that authorizes the Sheriff or a Bailiff to seize and sell a Judgment Debtor’s real property and/or personal property to satisfy the judgment debt (including interest and enforcement costs).

The proceeds of sale from any property seized and sold will be paid to you after the Sheriff or Bailiff deducts any expenses such as storage costs or auction fees.

However, if the proceeds of sale do not extinguish the judgment debt, you do have the option of commencing further enforcement proceedings to recover the debt.

Applying for a Means Inquiry Order

If you apply to the Court for a Means Inquiry Order, the Court will arrange for the listing of a means enquiry hearing. Both you and the Judgment Debtor are required to attend the means enquiry hearing. The purpose of a means enquiry hearing is for the Court to determine whether the Judgment Debtor has the financial capacity to repay the judgment debt.

Before the means enquiry hearing the Judgment Debtor is required to complete and provide the court with a statement of financial affairs.

If the Court determines at the means enquiry hearing that the Judgment Debtor has the capacity to repay the judgement debt, you may ask the Court to make one of the following orders:

A time for payment order which requires the Judgment Debtor to repay the judgment debt in full immediately on or before, a date set by the Court

An instalment order which requires the Judgment Debtor to repay the debt by regular instalment amounts determined by the Court, or

An earnings appropriation order which requires an employer of the Judgment Debtor to pay you a portion of those earnings

However, it should be noted that if the Judgment Debtor does not attend the means inquiry hearing, then you may apply to the Court for the issue of an arrest warrant.

If you require any advice in relation to enforcement proceedings, or wish to commence enforcement proceedings, please contact Kristy Lewis of LBH on klewis@lbandh.com.au.