New rules on Attachment of Earnings and Charging Order applications
As you may be aware, from 6 April 2016 new rules will apply to Attachment of Earnings and Charging Order applications made in the County Court.
The aim is to speed up the application process by reducing the requirement for judicial input and streamlining the processes.
What will change?
• The processes will be centralised - from 6 April all applications can only be made via the County Court Money Claim Centre (CCMCC), not via individual hearing centres
• Fees can be paid via a fee account and applications can be made online
Now for the detail…..
• The application will initially be considered by a court officer, checking prescribed criteria against a list. If the criteria are met an Interim Charging Order (ICO) and Unless Order, will be issued by the court officer without referral to a District Judge (DJ).
• If the criteria are not met, the ICO will be referred to a DJ for consideration and directions. The DJ may make the ICO and/or transfer the matter to the Defendant’s home court for hearing.
• The ICO will not automatically require a hearing date. Instead, the Defendant has 28 days from service of the ICO on him within which to file an objection to the application.
• If an objection is received from the Defendant, the matter will be referred to a DJ who may list the matter for hearing in the Defendant’s local court.
• If no objection is received, and evidence of service has been filed by the Claimant, the DJ may make a Final Charging Order, discharge or modify the order, by the date set out in the ICO – no hearing required.
Attachment of Earnings
• If a completed N56, statement of means is filed by the Defendant a full or suspended attachment of earnings (AOE) Order can be made by a court officer.
• Centralised Attachment of Earnings Payment System (CAPS) will monitor payments made under a full AOE order.
• If any payments are not made, CAPS will refer the order to the debtor’s home court and not the CCMCC.
• Requests to re-issue should therefore be made where the last step in the AOE process was taken.
• But the Defendant’s local court will still deal with all other aspects of the AOE process.
There will inevitably be a few teething problems in the process and there is also a new form of charging order application (N379) which is to be used from 6 April. As is often the way the form has not yet been released to the public so we cannot yet comment on whether the new format will serve to improve the application process or just take longer to complete.
The burning question must be- will the centralised system cope with the increased workload, because if it can’t, the change is not going to deliver the promised improvements.
If you have any questions about the above changes please contact Cheryl Bates or Sally Bittner who will be happy to assist.