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I have a Judgment, Now What?

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

One of the hardest things to explain to clients is that once they get their judgment, they might need to do something else to enforce it. If you have an order of the Landlord and Tenant Board, or Small Claims Court judgment, there are many different ways to try to make someone pay. Which one you choose should be based on two questions:

1) How much do they owe you?

2) What are the odds they can pay you, or have something worth seizing?

These are important from a purely practical standpoint. A paralegal will charge by the hour where a collections agent will charge on commission (an average is 50% of the recovered sum). If they owe less than the cost of the enforcement, or they don't have a job, it's probably better to pay the commission and avoid "spending good money after bad."

With that said, the most common Small Claims Court enforcement options are:

1) Judgment Debtor Exam (or Examination Hearing) - This is where you serve the debtor and they must attend in court to answer questions about anything they own or owe, where they work, where they bank, etc. This often leads to a payment schedule or detailed information on what can be garnished or seized.

2) Garnishment - This is a process where the court can have an employer deduct portions of a debtor's wages to pay the order. According to the Ontario Wages Act, s.7(2) (link below) up to 20% can be garnished from wages for a Small Claims Court judgment or Landlord Tenant Board order. You can also garnish bank accounts.

3) Seizure and Sale of Property -The costs of requesting a writ of seizure can be rather high. The creditor has to risk paying these costs with no guarantee of recovery. If the debtor doesn't have any property (or equity) worth seizing and selling, the creditor would lose the additional costs they have paid. This is often thought of as a back up plan if all other enforcement remedies fail.

As always, remember that this blog should not be taken as legal advice and is no substitute for a consult about your specific facts. If you have questions, call Jon today at 519-564-3242.


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