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Other Debt

Other Debts and your Mortgage:

Other debts and loans

If you owe money for any reason and the creditor is trying to get repayment, one of the options open to the creditor is to create a judgment mortgage on your property (your home or any other property you own). A judgment mortgage has broadly the same effect as a conventional mortgage on your home and can be enforced by way of a mortgage suit.

First the creditor must get a judgement order, and then an execution order (usually a fi fa order) and if the execution order doesn’t result in payment of the debt the creditor may get a judgement mortgage on your property.

Judgement order

The creditor must first get a court to decide that you do owe them money. This is called a judgement order. To get a judgement order the creditor will take their case (make a motion) to District Court, the Circuit Court or the High Court – which court depends on the amount of money involved. This motion may, of course, be contested by you (the debtor). A judgment order is made if it is established that you (the debtor) owe the money in question.

When a judgment for the payment of money is obtained from a court, the person in whose favour the judgment is given is called a judgment creditor and the person who has to make the payment is a judgment debtor.

In general, the creditor has 12 years in which to enforce the judgment order.

Enforcing the judgment order

The legal term for enforcing the judgment is execution. Having got a judgment order, the creditor then has to get an order to execute the judgment. The execution order entitles the creditor to enforce the judgment.

A number of different execution orders are available. Generally, execution orders remain in force for a year but may be renewed.

Fi fa order

The execution order most commonly used to enforce a High Court judgment for a specific amount of money is an order of fieri facias (the literal meaning is “that you cause to be done” and the orders are generally called orders of fi fa) These orders are issued by the Central Office of the High Court.

This order entitles the creditor to direct the sheriff or County Registrar (County Registrars fulfil this function in all areas except Dublin and Cork cities and counties) to seize and sell property belonging to the debtor. If this fails because there is no property to seize, then the sheriff or County Registrar reports that no goods could be found to be seized (the legal phrase is to return the writ nulla bona).

Judgment mortgage

A judgment mortgage is frequently created when the order of fi fa fails to deliver any property. The judgment creditor may not look for a fi fa order at all and may create a judgment mortgage instead. Creating a judgment mortgage involves registering the judgment as a mortgage against your property. Effectively, the judgment is converted into a mortgage and this is registered in the Land Registry or Registry of Deeds.

Registration of the judgment mortgage does not have any automatic immediate effect until the judgment creditor decides either to force a sale or to claim entitlement to the proceeds of a sale by the judgment debtor.