Court orders and judgment

Court orders and judgment

A court will make an order if it agrees you owe a debt, even if you do not go to court. Once an order is made a creditor can apply for enforcement orders to make you pay a debt.

You still have options once a court order is made.

Once the court has made an order against you, your debt plus costs and interest becomes a judgment debt. A creditor has 15 years to take action on a judgment debt.

This judgment gives the creditor the right to apply to the court for the following enforcement orders, which are orders to make you pay:

  • summons for oral examination
  • instalment order
  • attachment of earnings
  • attachment of debt
  • warrants of seizure and sale
  • warrant to sell your house
  • creditor’s petition for bankruptcy (sequestration order) if you owe more than $5000.

See Creditors’ options for details.

Your options once an order is made

You still have options. For example, you can negotiate to pay the debt, ask the court for instalment orders, or apply for bankruptcy yourself if the creditor is threatening this. You can get help to do any of these things.

Can I get a court order reversed?

To reverse the court order you will need to ask for a re-hearing. This process can be expensive. It is very important that you get legal advice before asking for a re-hearing. You must fill in the re-hearing court form and:

  • write a sworn statement (affidavit) that shows that you have a defence
  • explain in the affidavit why you did not enter a defence or go to court, and why it has taken you until now to apply to the court
  • show that the creditor will not be worse off by having the first court order cancelled.

Unless the creditor was at fault you will have to pay the creditor’s legal costs.

You might also be able to appeal against the decision. This is rare, and you have limited time if you want to appeal. You would need to show that the first court made a mistake in applying the law. Get legal help about this. It is likely to be complicated and will be expensive.

Get help

Find out how you can get help with debt and financial issues.