Methods for Enforcing Civil Judgments in Ontario

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Abstract:

Obtaining a judgment against a defendant in a subrogated action may often be only the first step in a long process - obtaining a judgment is no guarantee of obtaining payment. When a court issues a judgment, it is not concerned with whether the unsuccessful party will ever actually pay the amount. It is up to the subrogating insurer, being the nominal plaintiff, to take this initiative. This situation is the same in cases where a criminal court orders that a defendant pay restitution, and the order is later converted to a civil judgment.

Nonetheless, Ontario's civil court system does provide the successful insurer (the "judgment creditor") with mechanisms to assist in collecting payment from the unsuccessful defendant (the "judgment debtor"). The two most common mechanisms for this purpose are (1) a writ of seizure and sale, and (2) a garnishment of debts, such as wages, owing to the debtor. In practice, however, these mechanisms can become quite complicated and are often inefficient. This article canvasses the advantages and limits of these enforcement mechanisms.

Keywords: enforcement, civil, judgment, writ, seizure, sale, garnishment, debts, liability, subrogation, litigation, action

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