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Can a judgment be enforced after 6 years?

Yes it can, with the court’s permission.

Section 24 of the Limitation Act 1980 says: -

(1)        An action shall not be brought upon any judgment after the expiration of six years from the date on which the judgment became enforceable.

(2)        No arrears of interest in respect of any judgment debt shall be recovered after the expiration of six years from the date on which the interest became due.

At first glance s. 24 (1) might suggest that a judgment that is more than 6 years old cannot be enforced, however in the case of Lowsley and another v Forbes it was held that a judgment could be enforced after 6 years with the permission of the court.   In accordance with s. 24(2) interest accruing on the judgment can only be recovered up to the 6 year mark.

In making the decision the Court found that the word ‘action’ meant a ‘fresh action’ and did not include execution proceedings on a judgment, leaving it open to judgment creditors to enforce even after the 6 years had expired.

There are of course practical problems with enforcing a judgment after such a long period of time has elapsed.  For example, the judgment debtor may well have disappeared or become bankrupt since the judgment was entered.  However if a creditor can locate the debtor and establish he or she has the means to satisfy the judgment, then the judgment can still be enforced.

Written: 20/05/2014

The information and any commentary on the law contained in this article is provided free of charge for information purposes only. No responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by any member or employee of Everys Solicitors. The information and commentary does not and is not intended to amount to legal advice and is not intended to be relied upon. You are strongly advised to obtain advice from a Solicitor about your specific case or matter and not to rely on the information or comments in this article. 

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