Area of Law: Small Claims Court
Answer # 562
Collecting a judgmentRegion: Ontario Answer # 562
Even if you win in court and have a judgment that says the debtor owes you money, it may be hard to get the debtor to pay. If the debtor does not pay you, it is up to you to take steps to collect the money. The staff at the court can provide information and forms to assist you in collecting the money. If you do not want to collect the money on your own, you may hire a private collection company, a lawyer or a paralegal to do it for you. However, before you spend time and money trying to collect on a judgment, you should determine if the debtor has assets and is likely to pay.
To collect the debt by enforcing the judgment, you will need to know about the debtor’s finances. This includes where the debtor works, where the debtor has bank accounts, if the debtor is owed money by tenants, what personal property the debtor owns, and if the debtor owns land.
Obtaining the debtor’s financial information
If you do not know financial information about the debtor, you can request a special meeting called an Examination Hearing. At the hearing you are allowed to ask the debtor (or other person to be examined, such as an employer) questions about the debtor’s finances. To request an Examination Hearing, the creditor must file a Notice of Examination with the court and serve it on all the parties to be involved in the Examination Hearing. View topic 564 Examination Hearings for more information.
Since it may take months to arrange a Hearing, you may want to negotiate with the debtor about entering into a settlement agreement and possibly settle for less money but get paid right away.
Enforcing a judgment
Generally, there are three ways to enforce a judgment through the court. First, the court can help you with garnishment by collecting money from a person who owes money to the debtor, such as an employer or a tenant. Second, the court can help you have the debtor’s personal property sold and collect the money that is received from the sale of the property. This is called Writ of Seizure and Sale of Personal Property. Third, the court can help you collect your judgment by selling or putting a lien on the debtor’s land. To do this, you will complete a Writ of Seizure and Sale of Land.
Sometimes, a judgment says that the defendant has to return the plaintiff’s personal property. If the defendant does not return the property, the plaintiff can ask the court for permission to take the property back. This is called a Writ of Delivery.
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For legal advice and assistance with collecting a judgment, or for any Small Claims Court matter, contact our preferred experts, George Brown Professional Corporation .
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