Limitations on enforcement
Produced in partnership with David Salter of Deputy High Court judge and Recorder

The following Family practice note produced in partnership with David Salter of Deputy High Court judge and Recorder provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Limitations on enforcement
  • Time limits
  • Periodical payments orders
  • Procedure
  • Approach of the courts
  • Transfer of proceedings

Limitations on enforcement

Time limits

The rules of limitation that prevent a fresh action being taken on a judgment once six years have elapsed since it became enforceable do not affect the right to take enforcement proceedings, including the appointment of a receiver, but save for bankruptcy proceedings which are considered to be a fresh action. Section 24(1) of the Limitation Act 1980 (LA 1980) restricts the time within which to bring an action to six years. Enforcement for breach of a financial order on divorce or civil partnership dissolution falls outside this provision and applications to enforce lump sum payments are proceedings by way of execution rather than a fresh action and are not statute-barred. It is prudent, however, to take action as soon as possible, as the court may not be sympathetic to a creditor who has delayed enforcing an order without good cause.

Where arrears of maintenance pending suit, interim maintenance or any financial provision order have become due more than 12 months before the commencement of enforcement proceedings, it will be necessary to seek the permission (leave) of the court to enforce those arrears. An application for permission is similarly not an action on the judgment and so no limitation issue will arise. See: Periodical payments orders.

A financial provision order for this purpose includes a foreign judgment for financial provision.

LA 1980, s 24(2)

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