Once a creditor has a judgment the debtor often pays the full amount of the judgment. If the debtor cannot pay, the creditor and debtor may agree upon a payment schedule. If the debt is not paid and no payment plan is agreed upon the creditor may take steps to collect on the judgment.
If the judgment is a Small Claims Court judgment the creditor must wait 30 days from the date of the judgment before using other legal means to collect. This 30-day period gives the debtor time to appeal. If the debtor does not file an appeal, the creditor can then take steps to collect the amount of the judgment. A Certificate of Judgment from Small Claims Court must first be filed at the Court of Queen's Bench.
If the judgment is from the Court of Queen's Bench, there is no 30-day waiting period before the creditor can enforce the judgment.
A creditor can collect on a judgment by having the Sheriff seize assets of the debtor such as money in a bank account, wages or assets such as a car or boat. The Sheriff's Office is in charge of the seizure process and creditors pay fees for their services. Creditors may be able to recover the enforcement costs by adding them to what the debtor already owes them. Once the Sheriff has seized assets they can be used to satisfy the judgment. The creditor must complete certain steps before these actions can be taken.
The first step in enforcing a judgment is to register the judgment. Once the creditor registers the judgment with the Judgment Registry they can use legal processes to collect on the judgment and also share in any money that is collected on behalf of other creditors who have registered judgments against the same debtor.
If a creditor wants the option to possibly enforce the judgments against land the debtor owns, the judgment must also be registered with the Lands Titles Registry.
Once a creditor has registered their judgment they give the Sheriff enforcement instructions. This can be a general statement that they want the Sheriff to collect from the debtor's wages, personal goods and lands. However, more specific instructions that include things like the name of the debtor's employer or the name and branch of a bank where the debtor has an account are often provided. Creditors must also provide a list of all property the debtor owns and its location, to the best of their knowledge. Other documents such as a certified copy of the judgment and the results of Land Titles and ISC Personal Property Registry searches must also be included.
A creditor who has a judgment against a debtor can send a questionnaire to the debtor to find out what money and property the debtor has that could be accessed to pay the judgment. The debtor must complete the questionnaire and return it to the creditor within 10 days of receiving it.
If the debtor does not complete the questionnaire the creditor can ask the Sheriff to serve a notice on the debtor requiring the debtor to provide information about what money and property they have within 10 days of receiving the notice. This notice must be served on the debtor in person.
If the debtor still does not provide the required information the creditor can ask the Sheriff to issue a Notice for an Appointment for Examination of the debtor. This is a meeting that the debtor must attend to answer questions under oath. A judge is not at the meeting but a court reporter is. The creditor can ask the debtor any questions about their assets and finances. Questions may include...
The court reporter records the creditor's questions and the debtor's answers.
Creditors can ask the Sheriff to collect a judgment debt out of the debtor's wages or salary, bank accounts, or personal and real property.
Debtors have certain protections to ensure that they are not left completely penniless after a judgment against them.
More than one creditor may be entitled to a share of the proceeds from property seized by the Sheriff.