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Judgments Enforcement (Northern Ireland) Order 1981

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PART VIIIN.I.POWERS OF COURTS

[F1Maintenance orders: means of paymentsN.I.

Maintenance orders in the High Court and[F2 certain] county courts: means of paymentN.I.

96A.(1) Where the High Court or a [F3county court] makes a qualifying periodical maintenance order, it may at the same time exercise either of its powers under paragraph (4) in relation to the order, whether of its own motion or on an application made under this paragraph by an interested party.

(2) For the purposes of this Article, a periodical maintenance order is an order—

(a)which requires money to be paid periodically by one person ( “the debtor”) to another ( “the creditor”); and

(b)which is a maintenance order;

and such an order is a “qualifying periodical maintenance order” if, at the time it is made, the debtor is ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland.

(3) Where—

(a)the High Court or a [F4county court] has made a qualifying periodical maintenance order; or

(b)a qualifying periodical maintenance order is registered in the High Court,

that court may at any later time—

(i)on an application made under this paragraph by an interested party, or

(ii)of its own motion, in the course of any proceedings concerning the order,

exercise either of its powers under paragraph (4) in relation to the order.

(4) The powers mentioned in paragraphs (1) and (3) are—

(a)the power to order that payments required to be made by the debtor to the creditor under the qualifying periodical maintenance order in question shall be so made by such a method of payment falling within paragraph (5) as the court may specify in the particular case; or

(b)the power to make an attachment of earnings order under Articles 97 to 105 to secure payments under the qualifying periodical maintenance order in question.

(5) The methods of payment mentioned in paragraph (4)(a) are—

(a)payment by standing order; or

(b)payment by any other method which requires the debtor to give his authority for payments of a specific amount to be made from an account of his to an account of the creditor's on specific dates during the period for which the authority is in force and without the need for any further authority from the debtor.

(6) In any case where—

(a)the court proposes to exercise its power under paragraph (4)(a), and

(b)having given the debtor an opportunity of opening an account from which payments under the order may be made in accordance with the method of payment proposed to be ordered under that paragraph, the court is satisfied that the debtor has failed, without reasonable excuse, to open such an account,

the court in exercising its power under that sub-paragraph may order that the debtor open such an account.

(7) Where in the exercise of its powers under paragraph (1) or (3), the High Court or a [F5county court] has made in relation to a qualifying periodical maintenance order such an order as is mentioned in paragraph (4)(a) (a “means of payment order”), it may at any time later—

(a)on an application made under this paragraph by an interested party, or

(b)of its own motion, in the course of any proceedings concerning the qualifying periodical maintenance order,

revoke, suspend, revive or vary the means of payment order.

(8) In deciding whether to exercise any of its powers under this Article the court in question having (if practicable) given every interested party an opportunity to make representations shall have regard to any representations made by any such party.

(9) Nothing in this Article shall be taken to prejudice—

(a)any power under Articles 97 to 105 which would, apart from this Article, be exercisable by the High Court or a [F6county court] ; or

(b)any right of any person to make any application under those Articles;

and paragraph (7) is without prejudice to any other power of the High Court or a [F6county court] to revoke, suspend, revive or vary an order.

(10) For the purposes of this Article—

  • “debtor” and “creditor” shall be construed in accordance with paragraph (2);

  • “interested party” means any of the following, that is to say—

    (a)

    the debtor;

    (b)

    the creditor; and

    (c)

    in a case where the person who applied for the qualifying periodical maintenance order in question is a person other than the creditor, that other person;

  • “maintenance order” means any order specified in Article 98(a)(i) to (v) and includes any such order which has been rescinded, revoked or discharged, if any arrears are recoverable under it;

  • “qualifying periodical maintenance order” shall be construed in accordance with paragraph (2), and the references to such an order in paragraphs (3) and (7) are references to any such order, whether made before or after the coming into operation of this Article;

  • and the reference in paragraph (2) to an order requiring money to be paid periodically by one person to another includes a reference to an order requiring a lump sum to be paid by instalments by one person to another.]

Attachment of earnings by order of courtN.I.

Interpretation of Articles 98 to 105N.I.

97.—(1) In Articles 98 to 105—

  • “the court” means a court such as is mentioned in paragraph ( a) or ( b) of Article 98;

  • “debtor” and “creditor” include respectively, in relation to an attachment of earnings order which is, or is to be, made to secure payments under a maintenance order, the person liable to make payments under the maintenance order and the person entitled to those payments;

  • “maintenance order” means an order such as is mentioned in Article 98( a).

(2) Where an attachment of earnings order is, or is to be, made to secure payments under a maintenance order, Article 3(5)( f) (exclusion of seamen's wages, with certain exceptions) shall not apply (and accordingly[F7 section 34(1)(a) of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995] (prohibition on attachment of certain seamen's wages) shall not apply).

Power of courts to make attachment of earnings ordersN.I.

98.  An attachment of earnings order may be made—

(a)by the High Court for the enforcement of an order for the periodical payment of money—

(i)made by the High Court in the exercise of its matrimonial[F8 or civil partnership] jurisdiction,

(ii)made by a F9... county court in the exercise of its matrimonial jurisdiction[F8 or a F9... county court in the exercise of its civil partnership jurisdiction] where, by virtue of rules of court made under[F10 Article 12(3)(f) of the Family Law (Northern Ireland) Order 1993], the order is enforceable as if it were an order of the High Court,

(iii)made by a court of summary jurisdiction and registered in the High Court under Part II of the Maintenance and Affiliation Orders Act (Northern Ireland) 1966 [1966 c.35] ,

(iv)made in another part of the United Kingdom and registered in the High Court under Part II of the Maintenance Orders Act 1950 [1950 c.37] ,[F11 but not subsequently registered in a court of summary jurisdiction under section 36 of the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgements Act 1982] or

(v)made outside the United Kingdom and registered in the High Court under the Maintenance Orders (Facilities for Enforcement) Act 1920 [1920 c.33] but not subsequently transferred to a court of summary jurisdiction under section 23 of the Maintenance Orders (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1972 [1972 c.18] ,

including such an order which has been rescinded, revoked or discharged, if any arrears are recoverable under it;

(b)by any court in circumstances (other than any involving default in complying with orders referred to in paragraph ( a)) where the court has power to commit to prison under Article 107 a person who could have paid the amount due or recoverable on foot of a judgment, or an instalment, but has refused or neglected to do so (and the court may treat an application for an order of committal under that Article as an application for an attachment of earnings order).

Making of attachment of earnings orderN.I.

99.—(1) Where it appears to the court that a debtor is a person to whom earnings fall to be paid, the court may make an attachment of earnings order requiring the person to whom the order is directed to make out of those earnings, or part thereof, such payments as may be specified in the order.

(2) An attachment of earnings order may be made—

(a)otherwise than for the enforcement of a maintenance order, on the application of the creditor;

(b)for the enforcement of a maintenance[F12 order, in accordance with Article 96A(1) or (3).]

(3) The person to whom an attachment of earnings order is directed shall be a person who appears to the court to have the debtor in his employment; and the order shall operate as an instruction to that person—

(a)to make periodical deductions from the debtor's earnings in accordance with Part I of Schedule 1; and

(b)at such times as the order may require, or as the court may allow, to pay the amounts deducted to the person entitled to the payments for which the order to be enforced provides, as specified in the order.

(4) An attachment of earnings order shall contain particulars prescribed by rules of court enabling the debtor to be identified by the employer.

(5) Except where an attachment of earnings order is made to secure payments under a maintenance order, the order shall specify the whole amount recoverable on foot of the relevant judgment (or so much of that amount as remains unpaid).

(6) The order shall specify—

(a)the normal deduction rate, that is to say, the rate (expressed as a sum of money per week, month or other period) at which the court thinks it reasonable for the debtor's earnings to be applied to meeting his liability under the relevant judgment; and

(b)the protected earnings rate, that is to say the rate (so expressed) below which, having regard to the debtor's resources and needs (including the needs of any person for whom he must, or reasonably may, provide), the court thinks it reasonable that the earnings actually paid to him should not be reduced;

so however that, where the order is, or is to be, made to secure payments under a maintenance order, the normal deduction rate for the purposes of sub-paragraph ( a)—

(i)shall be determined after taking account of any right or liability of the debtor to deduct income tax when making the payments, and

(ii)shall not exceed the rate which appears to the court necessary for the purposes of securing payment of the sums falling due from time to time under the maintenance order and securing payment within a reasonable period of any sums already due and unpaid under the maintenance order.

(7) Where an attachment of earnings order has been made by the court to secure the payment of any money no proceedings for committal or distress by reason of failure to pay that money which were begun before the making of the order shall be continued.

Compliance with order by employerN.I.

100.—(1) Where an attachment of earnings order has been made, the employer shall, if he has been served with the order, comply with it; but he shall be under no liability for non-compliance before seven days have elapsed since the service.

(2) Where a person is served with an attachment of earnings order directed to him and he has not the debtor in his employment, or the debtor subsequently ceases to be in his employment, he shall (in either case), within 10 days from the date of service or, as the case may be, the cesser, give notice in writing of that fact to such officer of the court as may be prescribed by rules of court.

(3) Part II of Schedule 1 shall have effect with respect to the priority to be accorded as between two or more attachment of earnings orders directed to a person either by the Office and a court, or by a court, (including, in either case, a court of summary jurisdiction) in respect of the same debtor.

(4) Where an attachment of earnings order is made to secure payments under a maintenance order any sums paid by the employer under the order shall be treated as sums paid by the person liable to make payments under the maintenance order.

(5) On any occasion when the employer makes, in compliance with the order, a deduction from the debtor's earnings—

(a)he shall be entitled to deduct, in addition, 50p or such other sum as may be prescribed by rules towards his clerical and administrative costs; and

(b)he shall give to the debtor a statement in writing of the total amount of the deduction.

(6) Any sum deducted by the employer from the debtor's earnings in compliance with the order, but not yet paid to the person entitled to the payments for which the order to be enforced provides, shall in the bankruptcy or winding-up of the employer be treated as money held by the employer on trust for that person.

Persons employed under the CrownN.I.

101.—(1) The fact that an attachment of earnings order is made at the suit of the Crown shall not prevent its operation at any time when the debtor is in the employment of the Crown.

(2) Where a debtor is in the employment of the Crown and an attachment of earnings order is made in respect of him, then for the purposes of Articles 99, 100 and 102 to 105 and Schedule 1—

(a)the chief officer for the time being of the government department, office or other body in which the debtor is employed shall be treated as having the debtor in his employment (any transfer of the debtor from one department, office or body to another being treated as a change of employment); and

(b)any earnings paid by the Crown, a Minister of the Crown or a government department, or out of the public revenue of the United Kingdom or Northern Ireland, shall be treated as paid by the said chief officer.

(3) In accordance with Article 3(2), the reference in paragraph (2)( a) to the department, office or other body in which the debtor is employed shall, in the case of a debtor who is not employed for the purposes of, but whose earnings are paid in the capacity of principal by, such a body, be construed as a reference to the department, office or other body by which any earnings of his are paid in that capacity.

(4) If any question arises, in proceedings for or arising out of an attachment of earnings order, as to what department, office or other body is concerned for the purposes of this Article, or as to who for those purposes is the chief officer thereof, the question shall be referred to and determined by the Department of the Civil Service or, as the case may require, the Minister for the Civil Service; but the Department or Minister shall not be under any obligation to consider a reference under this paragraph unless it is made by the court.

(5) A document purporting to set out a determination of the Department of the Civil Service under paragraph (4) and to be signed by an officer of that Department, or to set out a determination of the Minister for the Civil Service under that paragraph and to be signed on behalf of the Minister shall, in any such proceedings as are mentioned in that paragraph, be admissible in evidence and be deemed to contain an accurate statement of such a determination unless the contrary is shown.

(6) In this Article “government department” includes a department of the Government of the United Kingdom.

Variation, lapse, discharge and termination of ordersN.I.

102.—(1) The court may make an order varying (including suspending or reviving) or discharging an attachment of earnings order.

(2) Where an attachment of earnings order is varied, the employer shall if he has been served with notice of the variation, comply with the order as varied; but he shall be under no liability for non-compliance before seven days have elapsed since the service.

(3) Where an attachment of earnings order is discharged, the employer shall be under no liability in consequence of his treating the order as still in force at any time before the expiration of seven days from the date on which notice of the discharging order is served on him.

(4) Rules of court may make provision as to circumstances in which an attachment of earnings order may be varied or discharged by the court of its own motion.

(5) Where an attachment of earnings order has been made and the person to whom it is directed ceases to have the debtor in his employment, the order shall lapse (except as respects deduction from earnings paid after the cesser and payment to the person entitled to the payments for which the order to be enforced provides of amounts deducted at any time) and be of no effect unless and until the court revives it by again directing it to a person (whether the same as before or another) who appears to the court to have the debtor in his employment.

(6) The lapse of an order under paragraph (5) shall not prevent its being treated as remaining in force for other purposes.

(7) An attachment of earnings order made by a court to secure the payment of any money shall cease to have effect upon the making of an order of committal or the issue of a warrant of distress in respect of that money.

(8) An attachment of earnings order made by a court to secure payments under a maintenance order shall cease to have effect—

(a)upon the grant of an application for registration of the maintenance order in a court of summary jurisdiction under Part II of the Maintenance and Affiliation Orders Act (Northern Ireland) 1966 [1966 c.35] (whether or not the grant subsequently becomes void under section 11(2) of that Act);

(b)where the maintenance order is registered under the said Part II, upon the giving of notice with respect to it under section 14 of that Act of 1966 with a view to cancellation of its registration;

(c)upon the rescission or revocation of the maintenance order, or upon its being discharged while it is not registered under the said Part II, unless the court otherwise orders with a view to recovering arrears under the maintenance order;

(d)upon the maintenance order ceasing to be registered in a court in Northern Ireland, or becoming registered in a court in another part of the United Kingdom, under Part II of the Maintenance Orders Act 1950 [1950 c.37] .

(9) Where an attachment of earnings order ceases to have effect under paragraph (7) or (8), such officer of such court as may be prescribed by rules of court shall give notice of the cesser to the employer.

(10) Where an attachment of earnings order ceases to have effect under paragraph (7) or (8), paragraph (3) shall apply as it applies in a case where such an order is discharged.

(11) Except where the attachment of earnings order is made to secure payments under a maintenance order, where the whole amount recoverable on foot of the relevant judgment has been paid the court shall give notice to the employer that no further compliance witht the attachment of earnings order is required.

Statement of earnings, etc.N.I.

103.—(1) Where an attachment of earnings order is about to be made or revived the court may at any time before making or reviving the order—

(a)direct the debtor to furnish within a specified period a statement signed by him of—

(i)the name and address of any person by whom earnings are paid to him;

(ii)specified particulars of his earnings and anticipated earnings, and of his resources and needs (including the needs of any person for whom he must, or reasonably may, provide);

(iii)specified particulars of any matters which are, or may be, relevant under Article 99(6) to the determination of the normal deduction rate and the protected earnings rate to be specified in the order;

(iv)specified particulars for the purpose of enabling the debtor to be identified by any employer of his;

(b)direct any person appearing to the court to be an employer of the debtor to furnish within a specified period a statement signed by him or on his behalf of specified particulars of the debtor's earnings and anticipated earnings.

(2) Where an attachment of earnings order has been made, the court may at any time while the order is in force give any direction it is authorised by paragraph (1)( a) or ( b) to give.

(3) A document purporting to be a statement such as is mentioned in paragraph (1)( a) or ( b) shall, in proceedings before the court, be received in evidence and be deemed to be such a statement without further proof, unless the contrary is shown.

Obligation of debtor and his employers to notify changes of employment and earningsN.I.

104.—(1) While an attachment of earnings order is in force—

(a)the debtor shall notify the prescribed officer in writing of every occasion on which he leaves any employment, or becomes employed or re-employed, not later (in each case) than seven days from the date on which he did so;

(b)the debtor shall, on any occasion when he becomes employed or re-employed, include in his notification under sub-paragraph ( a) particulars of his earnings and anticipated earnings from the relevant employment; and

(c)any person who becomes the debtor's employer and knows that the order is in force and that it was made by the court shall, within seven days of his becoming the debtor's employer or of acquiring that knowledge (whichever is the later) notify the prescribed officer in writing that he is the debtor's employer, and include in his notification a statement of the debtor's earnings and anticipated earnings.

(2) In paragraph (1)( a) and ( c) “the prescribed officer” means such officer of the court as may be prescribed by rules of court.

Power of court to determine whether particular payments are earningsN.I.

105.—(1) Where an attachment of earnings order is in force the court shall, on the application of either the employer or the debtor, determine whether payments to the debtor of a particular class or description specified by the application are earnings for the purposes of the order; and the employer shall give effect to any determination for the time being in force under this Article.

(2) Where an application under this Article is made by the employer, he shall not incur any liability for non-compliance with the order as respects any payments of the class or description specified by the application which are made by him to the debtor while the application is pending; but this paragraph shall not, unless the court otherwise orders, apply as respects such payments if the employer subsequently withdraws the application.

Imprisonment for wilful defaultN.I.

Limitation on arrest and imprisonment of debtorsN.I.

106.  Save as otherwise expressly provided by Article 115 or by any other statutory provision, a person shall not be arrested or imprisoned for making default in payment of any amount due or recoverable on foot of any judgment or of any instalment thereof except in accordance with Article 107.

Committal for defaultN.I.

107.—(1) A court may, subject to this Article and in accordance with rules of court, make an order committing to prison until payment of the relevant amount, but not in any event for a term exceeding six weeks, any person who makes default—

(a)in payment of the amount due or recoverable on foot of a judgment; or

(b)in payment of any one or more than one instalment due under an instalment order under Article 30 or under paragraph (3); or

(c)in payment of an amount due under an order for the periodical payment of money made by the High Court or a F13... county court in the exercise of its matrimonial jurisdiction[F14 or by the High Court or a F13... county court in the exercise of its civil partnership jurisdiction].

(2) A person shall not be committed to prison under paragraph (1)—

(a)by a county court, where—

(i)the judgment is that of the High Court and the amount due on foot thereof exceeds[F15 £15,000;] or

(ii)the order was made by the High Court in the exercise of its matrimonial[F14 or civil partnership] jurisdiction;

(b)by a court of summary jurisdiction, where the judgment is not a judgment of such a court;

(c)by any court, where the relevant amount is due on foot of a judgment which is enforceable through the Office, unless an application has first been made for the enforcement of the judgment by the Office.

(3) Upon the hearing of an application for committal under paragraph (1), a court may make an order directing that the amount due or recoverable on foot of the judgment or any part thereof, or the instalments or any one or more than one of them, in respect of the payment of which default has been made, be paid by instalments and thereupon the court may—

(a)dismiss the application; or

(b)adjourn the hearing of the application; or

(c)make an order but stay its execution so long as the debtor complies with the order.

(4) The jurisdiction conferred by this Article may be exercised only where it is proved to the satisfaction of the court that the person making default either has or has had, or but for his act or default would have had, since the date of the judgment or of the instalment order, as the case may be, the means to pay the amount due or recoverable on foot of the judgment or any part thereof, or the instalments or any one or more than one of them, in respect of which he has made default, and has refused or neglected or refuses or neglects to pay the same.

(5) Where an attachment of earnings order is in force, an order under this Article shall not be made in respect of any failure to pay the amount recoverable on foot of the judgment in respect of which that attachment of earnings order has been made.

Proof of meansN.I.

108.—(1) The making of an instalment order under Article 30 or under Article 107 (3) (otherwise than on consent) shall, until the contrary is proved, be evidence that the debtor has the means to pay the amounts specified in the instalment order.

(2) Subject to paragraph (1), proof of the means of a person making default may be given in such manner as the court may think fit; and, for the purposes of such proof, the debtor and any witnesses may be summoned and examined on oath.

Discharge of debtor from custodyN.I.

109.  Any person imprisoned under Article 107 shall be discharged from custody upon a certificate, signed in such manner as may be prescribed by rules of court, to the effect that he has satisfied the amount specified in the order of committal as the sum in respect of which that order is made and the amount so specified of any costs ordered to be paid by him.

Appeal from committal orderN.I.

110.  Any person aggrieved by an order under Article 107(1) committing him to prison may appeal therefrom—

(a)where the order was made by the High Court, to the Court of Appeal; or

(b)where the order was made by a county court, to the High Court; or

(c)where the order was made by a court of summary jurisdiction, to the F16... county court;

in accordance with rules of court, and the decision of the court shall, except as provided by Article 61 or 62 of the County Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1980 [1980 NI 3] , be final and conclusive.

Sequestration and committal for contemptN.I.

Sequestration order against individual in contemptN.I.

111.—(1) Where an individual is in contempt for failing to comply with any judgment—

(a)requiring him to pay money into court, or

(b)requiring him to do an act (other than the payment of money) within a limited time,

the High Court or, where the judgment was given by a county court or a court of summary jurisdiction, a county court may make an order of sequestration ( “a sequestration order”) against him.

(2) A sequestration order may appoint one or more than one sequestrator nominated by the party seeking to enforce the judgment and shall empower any person so appointed to—

(a)enter upon any lands being the property of the party against whom the judgment has been given;

(b)receive, sequestrate and take the rents and profits of any such lands;

(c)take any other personal property of the party referred to in sub-paragraph ( a) and keep such property under sequestration in his hands until that party has complied with the judgment.

(3) Where money is to be paid under any judgment in respect of which a sequestration order has been made, the sequestrator may with the leave of the court which made the order apply towards the satisfaction of the judgment any rents and profits or other personal property taken or kept by virtue of the order.

Failure of individual to comply with sequestration orderN.I.

112.  Any person served with a copy of a sequestration order who fails to pay any rents or profits, or deliver any personal property, to a sequestrator in accordance with the order may on the application of the sequestrator be ordered to pay to him—

(a)the amount then due on foot of the judgment in respect of which the sequestration order was made, together with the costs of the application and the order made thereon; or

(b)the value of such rents, profits or property;

whichever is the less.

Sequestration order against company in contemptN.I.

113.  Where a company is in contempt for failing to comply with the judgment of a court or with any order of the Office made for the purpose of enforcing such a judgment, the High Court or, where the judgment was given by a county court or a court of summary jurisdiction, a county court may make a sequestration order against the company, and Articles 111(2) and 112 shall apply to the company as if it were an individual against whom a sequestration order had been made.

Referral to High Court of certain contempts of OfficeN.I.

114.—(1) This Article applies where—

(a)a person attending pursuant to a summons under Article 27(1) or 28(1) or (2) or an attendance order made under Article 27(2)(A) or 28(3), or brought before the Office on a warrant of arrest issued in pursuance of an order made under Article 27(2)(B) or on such a warrant issued under Article 28(4), refuses without just cause—

(i)to be sworn, or

(ii)to answer, or to answer satisfactorily, any question as to the means of the debtor, or the assets and liabilities of a debtor company or firm, properly put to him, or

(iii)to produce any book, document or thing relevant to his examination; or

(b)a person appearing before the Master or a Judicial Officer acting in discharge of functions under this Order behaves contumeliously towards him.

(2) The Master or a Judicial Officer—

(a)on the motion of the creditor, where the offence is one under paragraph (1)( a); or

(b)on his own motion, in any case,

may certify the offence and, in the case of a Judicial Officer, report it to the Master.

(3) The Master, on certifying or receiving a report of the offence in accordance with paragraph (2), may refer it to the High Court, which may, if satisfied that the offence certified has been committed, deal with the offence in any manner in which the Court could deal with it if committed in relation to the Court.

Committal for contempt in certain proceedings in courtN.I.

115.—(1) Any person who when ordered by the High Court or a county court—

(a)to pay a penalty or a sum in the nature of a penalty (other than a penalty in respect of a contract);

(b)being a trustee or person acting in a fiduciary capacity, to pay any sum of money in his possession or under his control;

(c)being a solicitor, to pay costs for misconduct as such, or to pay a sum of money payable in his capacity as an officer of the court;

makes default in such payment, shall be deemed to be in contempt of the court which made the order.

(2) Where a person is deemed to be in contempt of court under paragraph (1) the court may commit that person to prison until the expiration of such period or periods as the court may direct (but not exceeding, in the aggregate, one year) or until that person complies with the order, whichever first occurs.

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