Many legal minds making NZ LAW work

We are an association of independent legal practices, proactively sharing ideas and expertise for the benefit of our clients.

How to Recover Undisputed Debts

Published: 7th September 2017

Author: Emily Sutton, Breaden McCardle Lawyers

Published in: Commercial e.Speaking | #47

When the court makes a decision that an individual or business is owed a debt, it issues a judgment order telling the debtor that they must pay the creditor. However, often creditors are left wondering what happens if the debtor doesn’t pay. Find out how the court can assist you in recovering an undisputed civil debt.

Collecting civil debt

The process of collecting civil debt if the debtor doesn’t pay is called ‘civil enforcement’. A creditor can only initiate civil enforcement where a court or tribunal has ordered a debtor to pay a civil debt. The court doesn’t enforce judgment orders automatically; a creditor must select the appropriate enforcement actions and manage the process independently, or with the assistance of a lawyer. When you make an enforcement application, you can claim interest on civil debt that’s more than $3,000. If your order is more than six years old, you may need the court’s approval before taking enforcement action.

You must know a debtor’s correct address before the court can take some enforcement actions on your behalf. If you don’t have the debtor’s address, you can:

  • Try to find the address yourself
  • Make a confidential address information request with the Ministry of Justice, or
  • Enquire with a government agency under the Official Information Act 1982.

Enforcement process

There are a number of ways that the court can help you to enforce a civil debt. These include:

  • Assess the debtor’s finances on paper: a financial statement for the debtor can be completed by you or by the debtor, if you have sufficient information about the debtor. This can be useful if the debtor doesn’t have a phone, English is not their first language or they cannot attend a hearing
  • Assess the debtor’s finances over the phone: if you have the debtor’s telephone number, you can apply for a registrar to telephone the debtor to ascertain their ability to pay. This can be useful if you don’t have the debtor’s address, you don’t want to attend a hearing or the debtor has not completed a financial statement, or
  • Summon the debtor to a financial assessment hearing: if you have an address for the debtor, you can apply for a hearing to ascertain the debtor’s financial situation. You can serve a summons to the hearing on the debtor, or request a court-appointed bailiff to do so. If service is unable to be completed, you must provide a new address for the debtor. Where service is completed, but the debtor fails to attend the hearing, a warrant for the debtor’s arrest may be issued.

 Enforcement actions

You can make multiple applications to enforce civil debt:

  • If you know who pays the debtor (salary, wages or benefit), you can apply for an attachment order, which tells an employer or Work and Income to transfer money from the debtor’s wages or benefit to you. This arrangement can be set up either at a hearing if the parties agree, or after
  • the judgment order has been made
  • For a debtor who has valuable assets, you can apply to the court for a warrant to seize property. You must provide evidence that the debtor owns the property
  • If someone else owes the debtor money, you can apply to the court for garnishee proceedings to have that money paid to you instead, and/or
  • For a debtor that owns property, you can apply for a charging order to make it difficult for them to sell that property until the debt is paid.

Fees

There are fees associated with civil enforcement. You can, however, add the cost of fees to the amount owed by the debtor to be recovered when the debt is paid. A list of current fees can be found here.

Forms

You must complete an application form for each debtor. A list of civil enforcement forms can be found here.

 

 

 

Related Articles

  • Auckland
  • Bay of Plenty
  • Canterbury
  • Central Otago
  • Coromandel
  • Gisborne
  • Hawke's Bay
  • Kapiti Coast
  • Manawatu - Wanganui
  • Marlborough
  • Nelson
  • North Otago
  • Northland
  • Otago
  • Southland
  • Taranaki
  • Waikato
  • Wairarapa
  • Wellington
  • West Coast

Simpson Western

Simpson Western is a leading law firm in Auckland North, with offices in Takapuna and Silverdale.

The firm has ten partners, supported by a team of specialist lawyers, legal executives and a general manager, together with a team of excellent support staff.

Region: Auckland

Phone: 09 486 3058

Chris Rejthar & Associates

A long established law practice providing comprehensive and specialised legal advice and services to a diverse range of commercial and private clients.

Established in 1997 the firm has grown over the years to become a two solicitor, two legal executive firm representing both private and commercial clients.

Region: Bay of Plenty

Phone: 07 577 6565

Argyle Welsh Finnigan

Argyle Welsh Finnigan is a leading law firm in Ashburton,  the town servicing mid Canterbury, New Zealand.

The firm employs a team of over 25 legal professionals, including three Senior Associate Solicitors, three Staff Solicitors and five Legal Executives.  Our firm provides quality legal services with a commitment to our clients and to understanding their individual needs and requirements. 

With more than one hundred years of combined legal experience, we are able to offer prompt and professional advice on a wide range of legal matters.

Region: Canterbury

Phone: 03 308 8228

No firms in Central Otago

Purnell Jenkison Oliver

There is nothing as inevitable as change. Since opening for business early last century, we at Purnell Jenkison Oliver have seen many changes both in name and in the people who have made up the members of our team. We have been privileged to have served the public throughout all of these times. 

We are confident that we will continue to bring top quality legal services to our clients well into the future.

Region: Coromandel

Phone: 07 868 8680

Woodward Chrisp Lawyers

At Woodward Chrisp we strive to meet the needs of our clients by providing a wide range of high quality legal services within a supportive and collaborative environment.

Woodward Chrisp is the amalgamation of two long established Gisborne legal firms: Woodward Iles & Co and Chrisp and Chrisp. Today’s partners are Ross Revington, Adam Simperingham and Jeff Allen.

Region: Gisborne

Phone: 06 869 0900

AJ Gallagher Solicitors

Region: Hawke's Bay

Phone: 06 834 4015

Breaden McCardle Lawyers

Breaden McCardle Lawyers is the largest full service legal practice in the Kapiti Region.

We are here to help you and pride ourselves on providing practical, solutions based advice to clients in an approachable and straightforward manner.

Region: Kapiti Coast

Phone: 04 296 1105

Cullinane Steele Limited

Looking after you, your family, and the small print.

Region: Manawatu - Wanganui

Phone: 06 368 9239

Wain & Naysmith

Based in Blenheim, Wain & Naysmith Lawyers is a full service law firm, and a powerhouse for property, family and business law.

We pride ourselves in providing clear and cost effective legal solutions and practical advice for you, your family and your business.

Region: Marlborough

Phone: 03 578 4129

Knapps Lawyers

As a firm, we promise to look after you and treat you in a manner that we would expect to be treated by a professional services provider; we promise to use every available legal remedy available to us to resolve your issue and to do what you ask us to do in a timely manner.

We will hold in strict confidence all information that we acquire through our work for you and which concerns your business or personal information.  The only exceptions are where you authorise us to disclose such information or where we must do so by law.

Region: Nelson

Phone: 03 544 7888

No firms in North Otago

Law North Limited

We pride ourselves on being a "general store" for most legal issues but also have several in-house experts in specialised areas including trusts, relationship property, business and property law.  No matter what your issue is - whether you are looking for trusted legal advisers to steer you through life, or you have a one-off problem to sort out - we would be pleased to help.

Law North Ltd provides a broad range of legal services across the Far North district from our base in Kerikeri.   We have operated in the area for over 100 years and have a long-standing history of providing legal services to a diverse client base, including businesses and private clients.   Our directors and their families have been part of the Bay of Islands community for several generations and remain committed to the area and its people.  We often call upon strong local knowledge to resolve issues for clients whilst remaining vigilant about client confidentiality.

Region: Northland

Phone: 09 407 7099

Aspiring Law

As one of the leading general practice law firms in Wanaka, the wider Upper Clutha and Central Otago Lakes district, our job is to explain both of our respective roles in managing your legal matters.

We’re a friendly group of people and our philosophy is based on three simple principles to make sure you avoid messy, lengthy, and costly legal issues:

  • Don’t leave anything to chance - certainty provides peace of mind
  • Seek expert advice - it really is the best and most cost-effective thing you can do
  • Ask for that advice early - it will be cheaper for you in the long term

Region: Otago

Phone: 03 443 0900

Sheddan Pritchard Law Ltd

Incorporating traditional values and a fresh perspective, Sheddan Pritchard Law is here to assist you with all your legal needs. 

Our friendly and team-driven approach underpins our firm’s values, recognising the importance of putting people first and allows us to connect and nurture professional relationships with new and existing clients within our local community of Gore, as well as throughout New Zealand and extending overseas.

Region: Southland

Phone: 03 209 0030

Welsh McCarthy

Welsh McCarthy practises in Hawera, South Taranaki. Predominant industries in the South Taranaki district are dairy farming, oil and gas. The South Taranaki area also has the largest one-site multi product milk processing facility in the world

We deal with company and commercial transactions, commercial and family law, farm and residential sales and purchases, estate planning and family and charitable trusts. A large part of the firm also deals in the area of family law.

Region: Taranaki

Phone: 06 278 5039

David O'Neill

Region: Waikato

Phone: 07 839 1745

Gawith Burridge

Gawith Burridge traces its history back to 1875 when Charles Gawith first set up his practice. Since then the firm has undergone many changes, including a merger between Gawith & Co and Burridge & Co in 1998 to form our current practice.

Our firm draws on the breadth of expertise available from some of the region’s most senior legal practitioners, as well as the skills of those who have moved here from larger corporate environments.

As a result, we provide clients with a comprehensive range of legal services right here in the Wairarapa. We can provide you with legal assistance whether you are an individual or a company, with everything from setting up a Will to selling your farming business. 

Region: Wairarapa

Phone: 06 370 0000

Greg Kelly Law Ltd

Greg Kelly Law Limited is a boutique Wellington law firm specialising in trust and elder law. Our practice areas are wills, estates and trusts.

We act for private and institutional clients establishing and administering trusts, wills and estates. We also provide quality advice to legal and accounting firms in New Zealand and overseas. In particular, we can assist with legal opinions, obtaining and resealing probate, and estate and trust litigation.

Region: Wellington

Phone: 04 499 5192

Hannan & Seddon

The Law Firm of Hannan & Seddon dates back to September 1867.

The firm's offices were in Werita Street from 1867 until 1982 when the firm moved to Tarapuhi Street and then to its current spacious premises at 61 Guinness Street in 1998.

The name Hannan comes from Mr Michael Hannan whose son John Hannan (Jack) joined the firm in 1908. Jack Hannan remained in partnership until he passed away in 1974 at the age of 90!

The name Seddon comes from Mr T E Y Seddon (son of Premier Richard John Seddon from Kumara) who joined the firm in the 1920's. The other prominent Solicitor at Hannan & Seddon was Cyril McGinley who joined the firm in the late 1920’s and retired as a Consultant in 1997 aged 87.

Currently we have two Partners within our firm. Tony Sullivan who has been with us for 29 years and Colin Smith, 26 years. The firm also has two long serving Legal Executives Elaine Knowles and Beverley Walsh.  

Region: West Coast

Phone: 03 768 4169

All the information published on this website, or in any article herein is true and accurate to the best of the authors' knowledge. Information on this site should not be a substitute for legal advice. No liability is assumed by NZ LAW Limited, or individual NZ LAW member firms for losses suffered by any person or organisation relying directly or indirectly on information published on this site. Views expressed in any article are the views of the authors individually and do not necessarily reflect the view of NZ LAW or their member firms. Information appearing on this site may only be reproduced with prior approval from NZ LAW Limited Head Office, and credit being given to the source. © NZ LAW Limited