We are regularly instructed by Scottish law firms to enforce judgments (decrees) awarded in Scotland against debtors who are either based in or have assets in England or Wales and need support with debt recovery.
The process of enforcing money judgments awarded in civil proceedings in one country of the UK in another country of the UK is set out in the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982, Schedule 6.
Which judgments are covered
This might be a county court or High Court judgment, a tribunal award, an arbitration award, or any document which in Scotland has been registered for execution in the Books of Council and Session or in the sheriff court books kept for any sheriffdom.
It does not, however, apply to judgments made in magistrates’ courts or those given in the exercise of jurisdiction in relation to insolvency law.
To enforce the judgment in a different UK country, the creditor will require a certificate from the original court that awarded the judgment.
In order for the certificate to be awarded, the judgment must still be valid, enforcement not currently being stayed or suspended, and either the time for bringing an appeal has expired, no appeal has been made, or if one has been made, it has been rejected.
Once the certificate has been issued, the creditor applies – within six months - to the appropriate court in the country where it is to be enforced for the certificate to be registered. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland this is the High Court, and in Scotland it is the Court of Session.
Once the certificate has been registered, it is enforced in exactly the same way as a judgment originally awarded in that country would be, by a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) or county court bailiff.
Costs and interest from the original judgment may be added to the amount recoverable on the certificate, and those costs relating to obtaining and registering the certificate may also be added. Interest will continue to accrue at the rate specified in the certificate.
There is a similar process in place for the enforcement of judgments within the EU, called the European Enforcement Order, whereby a certificate can be requested from the original court without the need for further court proceedings.
You can read more about European Enforcement Orders in this article.
David is the former CEO of The Sheriffs Office.