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Trial Costs (Collection)

Volume 35: debated on Thursday 27 January 1983

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asked the Attorney-General if he will introduce legislation to improve, expedite and reduce the expense associated with collection of money due to persons having court judgments in their favour.

The Government are constantly seeking ways of improving the enforcement of judgments. The Charging Orders Act 1979 improved the system for obtaining a charging order upon property; the Supreme Court Act 1981 made certain improvements and extensions in the law relating to the attachment of debts and the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgements Act 1982 enables the United Kingdom to ratify the European judgments convention whereby many civil judgments will become enforceable throughout the European Communities. If the hon. Member has any particular suggestions to make, the Lord Chancellor will be glad to consider them.High Court enforcement is carried out by the under-sheriffs, for whom the Lord Chancellor is not responsible, but both they and—though this will depend in part on the judgment creditor himself—the county court bailiffs generally act expenditiously in matters of enforcement.As regards expense, fees are charged for enforcement, as they are for certain other stages in court procedure, but it has to be borne in mind that enforcement is often a costly and labour-intensive process and the fees do not cover the costs. It is considered that those who use these services should make some contribution towards meeting the cost. If the debtor has the means, these as well as the other costs are recoverable from him.

asked the Attorney-General if he will seek to introduce a framework of financial assistance for people of moderate means who face expense and difficulties in collecting money due to them as a result of court judgments.

Except for certain limited types of proceedings specified in schedule 1 to the Legal Aid Act 1974, legal aid is already available for enforcement of a court's judgment.