What is an Act of Court?
An Act of Court is an official record of the decision or judgment of the Court (Royal or Magistrate's Court) and is produced in a number of different formats. The document usually contains the following information: the Plaintiff, Defendant, date of court hearing and judgment, a brief outline of the case, the judgment and in the case of debt related judgments will usually give permission to arrest assets of the debtor. It is the Act of Court that gives HM Sheriff the authority to commence enforcement action on behalf of a plaintiff.
When submitting a request for enforcement only the original Acts of Court will be accepted by HM Sheriff and this will be returned to the Plaintiff with the final report which reports what enforcement action has or will be taken.
What should you do once you have received an Act of Court?
Once you have received an Act of Court in your favour from the Greffe, in the first instance it is recommended that you first inform the defendant that you now have a court judgment recorded against them, and that you now wish them to take the appropriate action to act in accordance with the judgment (ie make arrangements to pay a debt, leave premises in the case of an eviction etc).
It is recommended that the defendant should be informed that if no suitable response is made that enforcement action will be requested from HM Sheriff which will further add to the costs to be recovered from the defendant.
What happens if the defendant makes no acceptable response?
If the defendant does not respond in a way that is satisfactory to the Plaintiff by either paying a judgment debt in full or making alternative arrangements to settle another type of matter then the Act of Court should be rendered to the Office of HM Sheriff requesting enforcement action. The original Act of Court will be required and HM Sheriff enforcement fees must be paid before enforcement action will commence. These fees like the Court fees will be recoverable from the defendant and they are illustrated at Annex A.
Can the Act of Court be rendered for enforcement as soon as it has been received without first contacting the defendant?
If necessary there is no requirement to contact the defendant first before rendering the Act of Court to HM Sheriff for enforcement. In some cases immediate enforcement action is necessary if the plaintiff considers that the defendant may take action to dispose or conceal their assets, or even leave the island before enforcement action can be commenced.