How do I enforce a judgment debt in NSW?

How do I enforce a judgment debt in NSW?


So a company or person owed you money and you’ve now managed to secure a judgment in a court of NSW ordering them to repay the debt (a judgment debt). What now?

When a person (the ‘judgment creditor’) obtains a court judgment ordering a person (the ‘judgment debtor’) to return goods or pay money, the judgment debtor will not always comply with the judgment. They may not have the money or resources to pay the debt or they may simply be avoiding payment.

In this situation, the judgment creditor has 12 years from the date of the judgment to enforce the judgment. This is known as an ‘enforcement’ action. Enforcing a judgment debt in New South Wales (NSW) involves a process of collecting the money that is owed to you by the judgment debtor.

Here are the general steps to enforce a judgment debt in NSW:

  1. Obtain a copy of the judgment: This can be obtained from the court that issued the judgment or from the Sheriffs’ Office. The ‘Office of the Sheriff of NSW’ is a government authority responsible for court security, administering the NSW jury system and specific law enforcement such as serving warrants and enforcing various court orders (such as a writ).
  2. Identify the judgment debtor’s assets: This can include property, bank accounts, vehicles, or wages. You will need to find out where the judgment debtor’s assets are located and how they can be accessed. You can do this through a court via an examination notice (a form the debtor must fill out responding to questions about their income, assets and liabilities) if the judgment debtor’s assets are not easy to ascertain. 
  3. Issue a Writ for Levy of Property: Once issued, this type of writ authorises the Sheriff to seize and sell at auction personal property belonging to the debtor to pay the debt. You will need to provide the Sheriffs’ Office with a copy of the writ of execution, the judgment, and a fee for their services. The writ is valid for 12 months. If there is not enough personal property to satisfy the judgment debt that is owed to you and the debt is over $20,000, you can apply for an order seeking the sale of real property (land).
  4. Issue a Writ for the Delivery of Goods: This can be used if the court ordered the judgment debtor to return certain goods to you and they haven’t been returned. It authorises the Sheriff to seize the goods and return them to you (the judgment creditor) or recover their value by seizing other property and selling it. This type of writ is also valid for 12 months.
  5. Garnishee Order: If the judgment debtor has income, such as wages or salary, you can obtain a garnishee order. A garnishee order directs the judgment debtor’s employer or other organisation that holds money for the judgment debtor to pay some or all of the money owing to you, directly to you from their bank account, salary or wages.
  6. Charging Order: In the case of a judgment debt of the District or Supreme Court of NSW, you may wish to obtain a charging order. A charging order creates security over a specific asset(s) owned by the judgment debtor to the value of the judgment debt and restrains the judgment debtor from dealing with the asset.
  7. Debtor Examination: If the judgment debtor fails to comply with an examination notice you may apply to the Court for an examination order. An examination order summons the judgment debtor to Court to provide details of their financial affairs. To obtain an examination order you must apply to the appropriate Court and then personally serve it on the judgment debtor. The judgment debtor will then be required to attend an examination hearing where they will complete a statement of financial position attaching all relevant documentation.
  8. Bankruptcy Proceedings: Where the judgment debt is greater than the statutory minimum and the judgment debtor is an individual, you may wish to serve a bankruptcy notice. The current statutory minimum for a bankruptcy notice is $10,000.00. A bankruptcy notice must be personally served on the judgment debtor. Once served with a bankruptcy notice the judgment debtor has 21 days to make payment, or otherwise enter into a suitable repayment arrangement. If the judgment debtor fails to comply with the bankruptcy notice then they have committed an “act of bankruptcy”, and you are able to present a creditor’s petition seeking a sequestration order which effectively makes them bankrupt. A trustee in bankruptcy is then appointed to investigate the debtor’s financial affairs for the benefit of creditors.


Requirement Status
Obtain a copy of the judgment
Identify the judgment debtors assets
Issue a Writ for Levy of Property
Issue a Writ for the Delivery of Goods
Garnishee Order
Charging Order
Debtor Examination
Bankruptcy Proceedings

The process of enforcing a judgment debt can be complex and time-consuming, and it may be necessary to seek the advice of a lawyer or a debt collection agency. 

Additionally, there may be limitations on the amount and types of assets that can be seized, and there are certain exemptions that apply, such as a principal place of residence and other assets with exemptions by law.

For help recovering a judgment debt, reach out to us at or call us on (02) 8318 5962 for assistance and advice from one of our experienced litigation and commercial lawyers.

Navigating the Challenges of Litigation: Strategies for Managing the Process

Navigating the Challenges of Litigation: Strategies for Managing the Process


Litigation can be a complex and challenging process for all parties involved. Whether you are a plaintiff or a defendant, the legal system can be daunting and difficult to navigate. The uncertainty and financial burden of litigation can take a toll on both individuals and businesses. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the challenges of dealing with litigation and strategies to manage the process.

Uncertain outcome

One of the most significant challenges of litigation is the uncertainty of the outcome. There is no guarantee of a favorable outcome, and even if you have a strong case, there is always the possibility of losing. This uncertainty can be emotionally and financially draining, and it can be difficult to know how to plan for the future.

For most of our lives, we have the ability to control events around us. From going to work, to socialising, we are usually in control. In litigation, however, the outcome and process is set by the rules of court procedure, the other side and other factors.


Another challenge of litigation is the cost. Litigation is expensive, and the cost can quickly spiral out of control. Even if you have a strong case, the cost of legal fees, expert witnesses, and other expenses can be prohibitive. This can be especially difficult for individuals and small businesses who may not have the financial resources to cover the cost.

When engaging a lawyer, ensure that you have a frank up front discussion about costs. They may need to give you a revised cost estimate over time and need to ensure that you know the status of your case and likely future costs.


The length of the process is also a significant challenge in dealing with litigation. Litigation can take a long time, and the process can be drawn out for months or even years. This can be frustrating, and it can make it difficult to move on with your life or your business.

Personal stress

In addition to the financial and emotional challenges, litigation can also have a significant impact on your personal and professional relationships. The legal process can be stressful, and it can put a strain on relationships with friends, family, and business partners.


Despite these challenges, there are strategies that can be used to manage the process and mitigate the negative impact of litigation. One strategy is to work with a qualified lawyer who can guide you through the process and help you understand your rights and options. A good lawyer will be able to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case and help you develop a strategy for moving forward.

Another strategy is to try to settle the case out of court. Mediation, arbitration, or settlement negotiations can be effective in resolving disputes without the need for a trial. This can save time, money and the emotional toll of the litigation. A good lawyer will be able to advise you on the best approach to take and help you reach a resolution that is in your best interests.

It is also essential to stay organized and keep detailed records of all correspondence and expenses related to the case. This will help you keep track of the progress of the case and will be helpful if you need to provide evidence in court.

A good way to manage the emotional and stress aspect of litigation, is to set expectations and create a plan to keep your work and personal life separate. This can help you avoid becoming too consumed by the case and will make it easier to focus on other important aspects of your life.

In conclusion, litigation can be a challenging and difficult process for all parties involved. The uncertainty, cost, and length of the process can take a toll on individuals and businesses. However, by working with a qualified attorney and adopting strategies such as settling out of court, staying organized and setting expectations and boundaries, it is possible to mitigate the negative impact of litigation and move forward with your life or business.

If you would like to discuss your matter, please contact us.