16 April 2019

Changes to Attachment of Earnings and Charging Order process introduced by HMCTS

The process for submitting applications for Attachments of Earnings and Charging Orders has changed as a result of centralisation by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS), with responsibilities devolved to court officers.

Attachment Of Earnings Order

If you are considering enforcing a Judgment you have obtained against a customer by way of an Attachment of Earnings (AOE) Order, some changes will apply which are designed to simplify and speed up the process.

The changes to the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) require that an application for an Attachment of Earnings Order must be made to the County Court Money Claims Centre (CCMCC), thus centralising the process. Any response from the debtor will also be handled by the CCMCC. If a reply form is received from the debtor and sufficient information has been supplied in order to make an AOE Order, then the Court officer may do so without the need to refer the matter to a District Judge and ensure the order is made immediately. If the debtor does not respond to the application then the matter will be transferred to the debtor’s local County Court hearing centre.

The Centralised Attachment of Earnings Payment System (CAPS) will monitor payments made pursuant to an AOE Order and if any payments are not made then CAPS will refer the matter to the debtor’s local County Court hearing centre.

The changes have ensured that the new centralised system will simplify and speed up the process of both the application itself, and the monitoring of payments subject to the order.

Charging Orders

The process of applying for and obtaining a charging order has also changed. This application has been streamlined and refined to cut down on court time and to reduce the need for attendance at court by creditors. This is based upon the principal that most Charging Order hearings are either unopposed or the debtor would often not attend despite previous objections. All that remained was for a District Judge to confirm the final charging order.

The changes mean that the need for a hearing will be minimal, this reducing court time, the need for routine and unnecessary court hearings and costs for the applicants.

In the majority of cases, the following will apply:-

  • A charging order application will be sent to the County Court Money Claim Centre (CCMCC);

  • The application will then be reviewed by the court staff;

  • If the application meets criteria established by the court service, then the interim charging order will be granted; however, if it requires the attention of a District Judge then it will be referred accordingly;

  • The District Judge can then make the order, reject the application, or request that the application is listed for a hearing to determine the validity of the application.

The interim charging order is the first step and simply registers the applicant’s intention to secure the debt against the property. It also then gives the debtor the opportunity to object before a final charging order is granted, or not, by the court. The aim is that the vast majority of the applications will be processed without the need for hearing or the involvement of a district judge.

It is anticipated that in the majority of cases, the interim charging order will be made on the initial application and the sealed documents will be returned to the applicant for service. The process has been altered so that rather than a final charging order hearing, the debtor will have 28 days from the date they receive the interim order to object to it. If there are objections then these will be referred to the District Judge who without a hearing, can vary, discharge the interim order, or list the matter for a final hearing.

If there is no response from the debtor and providing that there is evidence of service on the court file, then the final order will be made without the need for a hearing.

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