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Attachment on earnings

Duncan Lewis Litigation Solicitors – Attachment on earnings


An attachment on earnings order can be used in a wide variety of debt recovery solutions, including family debt where child support has not been paid as agreed – or even in cases where a debtor has council tax arrears, has been overpaid welfare benefits by DWP, or owes HMRC tax payments.


In order to apply to the court for an attachment of earnings order, a court judgment in favour of the creditor is necessary.


Obviously an attachment on earnings order can only apply to a debtor who is employed or has some form of income.


Under the Attachment of Earnings Act 1971, an application for an attachment of earnings order is made at the County Court nearest to the address of the debtor(s) – and the application includes details of the amount of money due under the judgment or court order, as well as the outstanding sum which remains unpaid.


Where the purpose of an attachment of earnings order is to enforce an order of a Magistrates’ Court, the application will also include:

  • A certified copy of the judgment order; and
  • A witness statement verifying the amount of money due under the judgment order – or, if payments under the order are required to be made to the Magistrates’ Court, a certificate from the Magistrates' Court stating this.

Once the application for a attachment of earnings order has been filed at the court, the date for a hearing will be set by the court.


Attachment of earnings order can be used in cases where a debtor is self- employed or a sole trader – and even if the debtor is a member of the Armed Forces.


In cases where the debtor is employed, the employer is responsible for deducting any instalments under a Direct Earnings Attachment – because of this, the employer must co-operate and make sure the monies are deducted from wages. In cases where an employer fails to make deductions or does not co-operate, the court may issue a court order against the employer.


In attachment of earnings orders, a proportion of the debtor’s wages will be protected (protected earnings rate or PER) – and the court will also assess how much of their income they need to live on before deductions can be made to repay the debt.


The monies owed to a creditor are sent automatically to a creditor until the debt has been repaid – a system called the Centralised Attachment of Earnings Payment System (CAPS) is used to pay the creditor.


An Attachment of Earnings Order can be an effective way of recovering debt where an individual debtor or more than one debtor owes money to the same creditor – but because the debt is paid in instalments according to a court judgment on how much the debtor afford to pay, recovery of the debt is likely to take longer.


Duncan Lewis advises creditors to seek debt recovery advice as soon as possible when monies are owed, as other solutions may be possible and more effective – with some debt solutions, however, there are time limits involved.


For expert legal advice on debt recovery and Attachment of Earnings Orders, call Duncan Lewis Civil Litigation Solicitors on 0333 772 0409.


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