Obtaining a monetary judgment is by no means the end of the road for many litigants. It is not unusual to end up with a monetary judgment but without payment. The successful party is left with no choice but to proceed with enforcement of the judgment. The right choice of recovery options plays a key role in time and cost effective recovery.
In this 4 part series, we discuss the 4 most common means of recovery monetary judgments below the sum of FJD 10,000.00 namely:
- Writ of Fieri Facias (commonly referred to as a “Writ of FIFA”);
- Judgment Debtor Summons
- Garnishee Proceedings
- Bankruptcy Proceedings
A Writ of FIFA can be an effective enforcement mechanism that can be applied for by any party that obtains judgment in an action in the Magistrates Court or the High Court.
A Writ of FIFA is in essence causes Court Sherriff’s to seize assets of the judgment debtor and auction the same to recover the judgment sum as well as costs of enforcement. Only unencumbered assets are seized and the seizure is limited to assets which in the view of the Court Sheriff is sufficient to cover the judgment sum and costs of enforcement.
A Writ of FIFA is highly effective in cases where the judgment creditor has particulars of unencumbered assets of a judgment debtor. Whilst the Court Sheriff as part of his processes undertakes searches to compile a list of assets of the judgment debtor, providing this information tends to expedite the recovery process. Information such as location of assets, particulars of registration in cases where assets registration is a legal requirement (common examples are motor vehicles and boats) is highly useful and significantly reduces recovery time.
It is common for judgment debtors to clear the judgment sum as well as recovery costs to either prevent the seizure of assets or to secure the release subsequent to seizure. The payment by the judgment credit to avoid seizure or auction of seized assets is what makes this recovery option useful.
Judgment debtors should however exercise caution in choosing this form of recovery in the following cases:
- Where information on assets are not available or searches at registration agencies do not yield results;
- Where known assets are encumbered; or
- Where the known assets are not sufficient to cause substantial recovery – in these cases the Court Sheriff will not enforce seizure.
The process requires regular communication and coordination between the judgment creditor and the Court Sheriff. Judgment creditors (or solicitors as the case may be) should always keep this in mind.
In part 2 of this series, we will look at Judgment Debtor Summons.
For any queries on enforcing monetary judgments, please email the author at