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Enforcing a Judgment in Victoria

When a plaintiff succeeds in obtaining judgment against a defendant, payment of that judgment will not always happen immediately. If a judgment debtor is unwilling to pay a judgment debt in Victoria, there are several ways of enforcing the judgment. This page deals with the enforcement of judgments in Victoria.

Instalment Orders

An instalment order allows a judgment debtor to pay off a judgment in instalments over a set period of time. In Victoria, instalment orders are governed by the Judgment Debt Recovery Act 1984.

An instalment order cam be applied for either by the judgment creditor or the judgment debtor under the Act.

A court can require a judgment debtor be orally examined prior to making a decision. This means that the judgment debtor will be required to attend court and answer questions about their situation.

A party can request that an instalment order be cancelled or varied on either of two grounds. Firstly, this application can be made on the basis that the property or the income of the debtor has increased significantly. Secondly, it can be made on the basis that the information provided in support of the application was inaccurate.

Parties may also come to a private agreement about payment of the judgment debt in instalments.

Warrants to seize property and warrants for delivery

The courts may issue warrants when enforcing a judgment in Victoria. These include warrants to seize property and warrants for delivery.

A warrant for delivery is issued when a judgment has ordered that items belonging to a party be returned to that party. The warrant authorises the delivery of the named items to the party that owns them.

A warrant to seize property allows for certain property owned by the judgment debtor to be seized and then sold to fund the payment of the judgment debt.

When a court issues a warrant to seize property, the warrant (and the Sheriff) will generally give the debtor an opportunity to pay the debt. If the debt remains unpaid, the Sheriff’s Office will seize and sell specified items belonging to the debtor to pay the amount owing, as well as the creditor’s court costs and the Sheriff’s costs.

Under the Sheriff Act 2009, when executing a warrant to seize property, the Sheriff must ask for the debtor’s consent to enter the premises, and must have a reasonable suspicion that the goods listed in the warrant are located in the premises. If the debtor refuses to allow the Sheriff entry, the Sheriff may use reasonable force to carry out the warrant.

Some items cannot be seized from a judgment debtor. These include basic personal items, including the principal means of transport, work-related items and basic household goods and furniture as well as items that are not solely the property of the debtor. If jointly owned items are seized, the non-responsible owner can apply to the court for the return of these items, along with costs.

In the County and Supreme Courts, warrants can also be issued for the sale of land and/or real estate.

Attachment of earnings/debts orders

Order for the attachment of earnings or the attachment of debts compel third parties to pay the judgment creditor on behalf of the debtor.

Attachment of debts orders generally refer to any debt which is payable to the debtor on the day that the order is made, regardless of whether the money has been deposited into the debtor’s bank account. The third party is referred to as a “garnishee”.

Attachment of earnings orders compel the debtor’s employer to deduct amounts from salaries and wages in instalments. Debtors will be required to provide information in relation to their earnings. It is an offence to withhold or provide false information in relation to earnings.

Process for enforcing judgments

In order to apply for an order enforcing a judgment, a party must complete and file the correct summons. The forms can be found on the Magistrates Court, CountyCourt and the Supreme Court websites.

While there is no time limit for enforcing judgments, the Supreme Court Rules do make it more difficult to obtain a warrant after six years.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.


Michelle Makela

Michelle Makela is a Legal Practice Director at Go To Court Lawyers. She holds a Juris Doctor, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master of Criminology. She was admitted to practice in 2006. Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. 

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