Enforcement of Judgement
You won your case and obtained a Judgement or Order from the Tribunal in your favour. To your dismay, the business refuses to pay you the monies owed. What do you do next?
There are two methods in which you can enforce the judgement – 1) writ of seizure and sale; and 2) garnishee proceedings.
1. Writ of Seizure and Sale (“WSS”)
A writ of seizure and sale is a request by the consumer (Judgment Creditor) for the Court to seize and sell moveable property belonging to the business (Judgment Debtor) to pay the judgment debt should the business fail to pay within the time ordered by the Tribunal and Court.
Before proceeding with a WSS, you should consider:
  • The creditworthiness of the business. E.g. the business may have a low paid-up capital (i.e. $2 dollar company)
  • Whether there are other enforcement actions are pending against the business
  • Whether the business is in the process of being wound up, already wound up or bankrupt. For such businesses, consumers should instead approach the Insolvency and Public Trustee’s Office (IPTO) to file a proof of debt against the business.
These are some indications that the business may not have assets that are worth seizing.
However, where the business is owned by a sole proprietor (as opposed to incorporation under a limited liability structure), the creditworthiness of the individual owner (i.e. the assets of the individual) can also provide an additional route for enforcing your judgment. The same is not applicable where the business is incorporated under a company structure (i.e. limited liability) as generally, shareholders and directors of the company are not personally liable for any debts that the company incur.
Procedure for a WSS
To apply for a WSS, you must either engage a lawyer or file the necessary documents from one of the two CrimsonLogic Service Bureau located in the Supreme Court or near the State Courts.
If your documents are in order, the Bailiff will inform you by way of an Appointment Letter of the date fixed for execution. (You will need to be present on the date or appoint a representative to attend on your behalf.)
On the day of execution, the bailiff will enter the business’s premise and may seize any items identified by you or your representative by marking them accordingly. If the premises are locked, the bailiff may as its discretion require you to engage the services of a locksmith at your cost. In practice, this is only done at the second attempt of execution.
The business then has seven days to settle all sums owing. If the business fails to do so, the consumer may proceed with an auction sale of the seized items. Further fees are required to cover the expenses of the auctioneer. A valuation report of all the seized items may also be required.
After the entire process, any expenses incurred in relation to the WSS may be recovered if the execution is successful (i.e. the proceeds from the sale of the seized items are sufficient to cover any amounts owing to you and the expenses incurred). Any shortfall however will be deducted from your deposit with the bailiff’s office.
There is no guarantee that a WSS will be successfully executed and that you will recover the amount owing to you and the expenses you have incurred in the execution.
2. Garnishee Proceedings
A garnishee is someone who owes the business (i.e. Judgment Debtor) monies. Where the consumer (i.e. the Judgment Creditor) garnishes the debt, the garnishee must pay money owed to the consumer instead of the business.
Broadly, the consumer must first apply for a provisional garnishee order which is to be filed ex-parte (with no other parties involved). Subsequently, at the show cause proceedings, if the garnishee confirms that there are monies due and owing to the Judgment Debtor, the Registrar hearing the matter may make a final garnishee order and the garnishee must pay the consumer instead of the business.
There are several instances where a business may be owed monies. One example is where a business has monies in a bank. Under the law, there is a creditor-debtor relationship between the bank and the business (i.e. the business is owed the sum of monies that it had previously deposited in the bank). Consumers however cannot garnish monies contained in an overdraft account as those are monies by the business to the bank. Another example is where the business renders services to another consumer and the consumer agrees to pay in credit terms. Again, a creditor-debtor relationship exists between the parties.
Readers are advised to refer to the Singapore State Courts website (https://www.statecourts.gov.sg/) for further details and procedures of the two proceedings above. For further advice or assistance in enforcing your Order or Judgement, please consult a lawyer.
This website's content is Copyright © CASE | Website Designed and Maintained By Elves Lab | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy