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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Enforcement action: county court proceedings: attachment of earnings orders (AEOs): variation or discharge of AEO by the court

In certain circumstances the court may discharge or vary the terms of an AEO of its own motion. The court must first give notice to both the judgment debtor and the creditor to allow either party an opportunity to be heard.

If you receive such a notice, make sure that you attend the hearing, taking with you any evidence as to the judgment debtor’s means. It may also be useful to confirm the judgment debtor’s current employer.

Often the outcome will not require any action, for example where the court simply redirects the AEO to a new employer, or where the court makes a consolidated order, but in some circumstances you may need to take different action as follows.


  • AEO is discharged because the person to whom it was directed is not the judgment debtor’s employer:
    • find out who is the judgment debtor’s employer
    • make a fresh application for an AEO
    • treat the fee for the original application as irrecoverable
    • if the judgment debtor is no longer an employee, consider an alternative method of enforcement
  • the court has made a subsequent priority AEO, consider an alternative method of enforcement
  • a bankruptcy order has been made against the judgment debtor, follow INS2303
  • the court has ordered the judgment debtor to provide a list of creditors, take the action shown at DMBM667610
  • the court has made an administration order, follow DMBM667820 onwards.