A creditor may seek a judgment against a debtor in an Irish court for non-payment of a debt when such payment is overdue. Where such a judgment is awarded, interest is automatically applied at the statutory rate of 8%.
There are a number of avenues available to the creditor to have the judgment enforced. The usual first step is to register the judgment in the Judgments section of the Irish High Court. Anyone who subsequently carries out a Judgment Search in respect of the debtor will become aware of the judgment and such judgments are also published in trade gazettes such as Stubbs Gazette. There are other regular publications which may carry judgments and which are available to bank managers, credit controllers and finance houses. A purchaser of property will normally carry out a search and if any judgments are outstanding against the seller, the purchaser will insist on the judgment being satisfied before parting with the purchase money.
Where the debtor owns property, the creditor can swear an affidavit detailing the judgment and lodge this document in the Land Registry or in the Register of Deeds. If the property is being sold, the purchaser must do a search and the debt will have to be cleared from the proceeds of sale of the property. The creditor can also force the sale of the property by obtaining an Order for Sale from the Court and following the sale of the property, the debt, interest and costs are discharged from the proceeds of sale.
Other means of enforcing the judgment which may be open to the creditor include: lodging the judgment with the Sheriff, who may seize goods in discharge of the debt; obtaining a Garnishee Order from the Court against third parties who owe money to the debtor, thereby ordering them to pay the monies directly to the creditor rather than to the debtor; taking out a Mareva Injunction against the debtor, thereby freezing the debtor’s assets and preventing him or her from removing such assets from the jurisdiction or otherwise disposing of them so as to avoid discharging the Judgment debt; obtaining an Instalment Order from the Court, compelling the debtor to pay the Judgment debt on an instalment basis if he or she cannot pay it in one lump sum; applying to the court to have the debtor declared a bankrupt.