Enforcement of civil debt
In a civil matter, a judicial officer may make a decision, known as a judgment, telling one party - the debtor - to pay the other party - the creditor - money. If the debtor does not pay, the creditor can apply to the Magistrates’ Court to enforce the debt.
You can only apply for enforcement if an order has been made in your favour.
The Magistrates’ Court does not automatically enforce civil judgments. If you are the creditor and want to enforce a judgment, you must apply first.
Court can be a complex and costly process and you should seek legal advice before starting an enforcement action. You may also wish to speak to the other party and try to resolve the dispute.
There are five civil enforcement actions that can be applied for in the Magistrates’ Court:
- summons for oral examination
- warrant to seize property
- attachment of debt
- attachment of earnings order
- instalment order.
A judgement from another jurisdiction must be registered with the Magistrates’ Court before enforcement can start.
See the registration of interstate judgments and registration of VCAT monetary orders pages for more information.
All court fees paid for enforcement action may be added to a debt and is recoverable from the debtor.
Penalty interest rates
The Parliament of Victoria fixes an interest rate on all outstanding civil judgments enforced in the Magistrates’ Court.
The interest rate is calculated on the money ordered to be paid, usually backdated to the date the complaint was filed.
Interest will apply until the outstanding debt is paid in full.
This is not a full list of legislation associated with this topic. See the Victorian Government's legislation website for more information.