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Enforcement of UK Judgments Abroad – What You Need to Know

Scott Nelson Profile Picture Janine Marsh Profile Picture
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Scott
Scott Nelson Profile Picture

Scott Nelson

Managing Director

MoneyNerd’s founder, Scott Nelson, has a decade of financial industry experience, including 6 years in FCA regulated loan and credit card companies. Troubled by a lack of conscience in the industry, he founded MoneyNerd to give genuine advice to those in debt and struggling financially.

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&
Janine
Janine Marsh Profile Picture

Janine Marsh

Financial Expert

Janine Marsh is an award-winning presenter and a valuable member of the MoneyNerd team. With a wealth of experience as a financial expert, she's been featured on BBC Radio 4, BBC Local Radio, and BBC Five Live, and is a regular on Co-op Radio.

Learn more about Janine
· Feb 6th, 2024
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enforcement of uk judgments abroad

For free & impartial money advice you can visit MoneyHelper. We work with The Debt Advice Service who provide information about your options. This isn’t a full fact-find, some debt solutions may not be suitable in all circumstances, ongoing fees might apply & your credit rating may be affected.

Are you puzzled by a letter from a debt collector about a UK judgement that needs to be enforced abroad? This can be a big worry, but you have come to the right place for answers. Each month, over 170,000 people use our website to find information regarding their debt questions.

In this article, we will explain:

  • What a court order is and why you might have one.
  • How UK judgments are usually enforced.
  • If moving abroad can clear your debts.
  • How a UK court order can be enforced in other countries like France and Australia.
  • Ways to deal with too much debt.

We understand that getting a letter like this can be confusing and scary, as research shows 64% of UK adults find interactions with current debt collectors stressful1. Many of us have been in the same boat. We know the feeling of not knowing where a debt has come from and if it’s even real. We’re here to guide you through this process, make it less scary, and help you understand your options.

Let’s dive in and find out more about the enforcement of UK judgments abroad.

Could you legally write off some debt?

There are several debt solutions in the UK, choosing the right one for you could write off some of your unaffordable debt, but the wrong one may be expensive and drawn out.

Answer below to get started.

How much debt do you have?

This isn’t a full fact find. MoneyNerd doesn’t give advice. We work with The Debt Advice Service who provide information about your options.

What is a court order?

A court can issue an order to any of the parties involved in legal action. One of the most common types of court order is a County Court Judgment (CCJ). 

What is a County Court Judgment (CCJ)?

A County Court Judgment is a type of court order issued by a County Court in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. It usually orders one party to pay another party a debt or compensation. 

For example, you might have taken out a loan but were – for whatever reason – unable to repay it. The lender will try and get you to pay, but if you can’t or refuse to pay, they could start legal action. If the loan provider wins the case, a County Court judge will issue you with a CCJ to pay the debt. 

But if you can’t or don’t pay the debt after a CCJ has been issued, you could face debt enforcement action. However, there are some considerations.

Janine, our financial expert, explained that, in many cases, while debt collectors can visit your home for payments, they cannot come to your workplace, act threateningly, force payment, or discuss your finances with others. If they violate these rules, you can complain.

How are UK judgments usually enforced?

UK judgments for debt are usually enforced with:

  1. Bailiffs to come and collect the debt from your UK home. Or they take your possessions and sell them to pay off the debt. But there are some things they cannot take, such as a car on finance
  2. Attachment of Earnings (money taken from your UK income)
  3. Charging Order (preventing the sale of Uk property without first repaying the debt)

Bailiffs are one of the most commonly used methods of debt enforcement in the UK. You can learn more about your rights when dealing with bailiffs on the MoneyNerd bailiff debt page

How a debt solution could help

Some debt solutions can:

  1. Stop nasty calls from creditors
  2. Freeze interest and charges
  3. Reduce your monthly payments

A few debt solutions can even result in writing off some of your debt.

Here’s an example:


Situation

Monthly income £2,504
Monthly expenses £2,345
Total debt £32,049

Monthly debt repayments

Before £587
After £158

£429 reduction in monthly payments

If you want to learn what debt solutions are available to you, click the button below to get started.

Get Started

Can you move abroad with a CCJ?

Yes, you’re movements are not restricted when you have a CCJ debt. The court has ordered you to repay this debt, but it hasn’t stopped you from moving and living abroad. 

Does your debt get wiped when you move abroad?

No, your debts remain active and payable when you move abroad. Any outstanding CCJ will still need to be paid.

Believe it or not, the average unsecured debt amount has increased by 27% year-on-year (to £16,174)2, and it would make sense that a fraction of this comes from outstanding CCJs.

How do you enforce a judgement in another country?

If the debtor moves abroad with a CCJ, there are still ways to make them pay. The easiest is to use UK debt enforcement action that is still possible, such as placing a Charging Order on any UK property the debtor owns. 

But if that isn’t possible, you probably want to know if a UK judgment can be enforced in the new country of the debtor. 

The answer depends on what treaties are in place between the UK and other nations. For example, it was much easier to enforce a UK judgment in the EU prior to Brexit, but it can still be possible. 

A well-rounded discussion on the specifics of this topic has been published here

» TAKE ACTION NOW: Fill out the short debt form

Can a UK court order be enforced in France?

A UK judgment isn’t immediately enforceable in France, but there is a process that can be followed to make it enforceable. The process is understood to take just a few weeks.

 

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Can UK CCJ be enforced in Australia?

Yes, the UK and Australia have a reciprocal agreement to allow the enforcement of some judgments in each other’s jurisdictions. This is covered in the Foreign Judgments Act. 

How is foreign judgment enforced in the UK?

The common law doesn’t allow for the enforcement of court judgments from other countries in the UK. However, if conditions are met the court can issue a UK judgment for the debt being chased. 

This is a complex part of the law which is best discussed with a legal professional. 

Could you legally write off some debt?

Answer below to get started.

How much debt do you have?

This isn’t a full fact find, MoneyNerd doesn’t give advice. We work with The Debt Advice Service who provide information about your options.

References

  1. InDebted, Debt Collectors Survey
  2. StepChange, Scotland in the Red
The authors
Scott Nelson Profile Picture
Author
MoneyNerd’s founder, Scott Nelson, has a decade of financial industry experience, including 6 years in FCA regulated loan and credit card companies. Troubled by a lack of conscience in the industry, he founded MoneyNerd to give genuine advice to those in debt and struggling financially.
Janine Marsh Profile Picture
Debt Expert
Janine Marsh is an award-winning presenter and a valuable member of the MoneyNerd team. With a wealth of experience as a financial expert, she's been featured on BBC Radio 4, BBC Local Radio, and BBC Five Live, and is a regular on Co-op Radio.