Enforcement action: country court proceedings: the defendant’s response to the claim: admissions where claim entered clerically
On receipt of the claim form the defendant may admit the claim in full and send you form N9A [Admission (specified amount)] together with an offer of payment.
No offer of payment made
If the defendant admits your claim but makes no offer of payment, you should apply for judgment, on form N205A or N225, with an order for immediate payment of the unpaid balance of your claim.
Offer of payment made
If the defendant needs time to pay they should complete the form N9A showing details of their means and either:
- make an offer to pay either by instalments
- specify the date when they can pay in full.
You should consider whether the offer is reasonable, based on the information on form N9A and any information you have already about the defendant’s general lifestyle, including information already held, for example, on NPS / EBS or other systems, on tax returns, or form 36A.
Take into account the length of time it will take to clear the debt, and whether future liabilities will be paid on time.
In many cases the defendant will supply figures that are a combination of weekly, monthly or even quarterly payments. It is vital that you convert these amounts to the frequency the defendant is paid. If the defendant is paid monthly all expenses should be converted to monthly to provide an accurate figure of an average month’s income and expenditure. To convert weekly figures to monthly you should multiply by 4.33, not 4.
Accepting the offer
If you accept the offer, you should:
- complete the bottom part of form N205A [Notice of issue (specified amount)] or form N225 [Request for Judgment and reply to Admission (specified amount)] in the terms of the offer and
- send the form to the court.
At the same time:
- issue a letter CCP4 to the defendant accepting the offer
- enclose a direct debit form.
If the debt is on IDMS you can monitor payments through the Instalment Arrangement function on the IDMS system.
Offer of payment unacceptable
You may have grounds for refusing the offer if the defendant’s stated income is below what is shown in their accounts or tax returns and there is no reasonable explanation for the discrepancy, or you have other good evidence about their ability to pay.
You should not reject the defendant’s offer solely because they might not be up to date with filing their tax returns. However you may wish to make it a condition that the defendant files outstanding returns before you will agree to their offer.
You should bear in mind that the court will not concern itself with other potential liabilities and will only focus on the debt in court.
Look for details of unnecessary or inflated expenditure for socialising, or excessive utility or other bills.
You should always contact the defendant, preferably by telephone, and question and clarify the figures provided before replying to the court. Your objective is to try and get the defendant to make an increased offer of payment.
If the defendant agrees to make an increased offer then you should obtain their written consent.
Rejecting the offer of payment
If you decide to reject the offer you should complete the bottom part of form N205A [Notice of issue (specified amount)] or form N225 [Request for Judgment and reply to Admission (specified amount)]. Enter the rate you want the debtor to pay, with your reasons for objecting to their proposals.
Then, send form N205A or N225, keeping a copy with your papers, and a copy of the N9A to the court. Ensure you state clearly the rate of payment you consider to be reasonable and that you include your reason for refusing the offer.
But unless you are confident you can convince the court that the defendant’s proposals are unreasonable, you should normally accept them. If you decide to reject the defendant’s proposals, the court will determine the rate of payment.
Completing forms N205A or N225
An experienced officer may sign the form under the direction of a debt manager.
If you have accepted the defendant’s proposals for payment, a court officer will enter judgment within 10 days of your request, without the need for you to attend court, and notify you and the defendant on form N30(1).
If you have rejected the proposals for payment, a court officer or a district judge will enter judgment and determine the rate and time of payment from the evidence provided. The court will notify all parties on form N30(2). Exceptionally, if there is insufficient information available to determine a rate of payment, the court will set the case down for hearing.
Challenging the rate of payment
Once the court has determined the rate of payment you (or the defendant) may challenge the determination, but you should do so only if you believe the court has overlooked important evidence, or fresh evidence has come to light.
If you have grounds to challenge the order, you should apply within 16 days, on form N244, for a re-determination of the rate of payment by a judge, without a hearing. Fee number 2.8 is payable (see DMBM668770).
You must state the reasons for your application and the rate of payment you want. Attach sufficient copies for the court and for each defendant.
If the original determination was by a court officer, the district judge may determine the case without a hearing. Otherwise the court will list the case for hearing, when you should attend and present your case.
If the defendant admits only part of your claim, you should treat it as a defence even if the defendant does not actually deliver a formal defence for the balance. The case should be reviewed following the guidance in DMBM665770 onwards.
In all cases, you should:
- write to the defendant, answering the defence if possible or advising what will be done, and asking for payment of the undisputed amount
- return form N225A to the court within 14 days rejecting the part admission
- await a hearing date or apply to have the defence struck out as appropriate.
At the defence hearing, if you cannot secure judgment for the full amount of the debt, you should ask for an order for interim payment of the amount not in dispute.