AN UNEMPLOYED JUDGMENT DEBTOR CAN NOT AVOID PAYMENT OF HIS DEBT
10 April 2020
In Cyprus a party who has obtained a Court judgment for the payment of any certain amount can request that the court take enforcement measures in case where the judgement debtor omits to pay.
There are many enforcement measures that a judgement creditor may take among others an application for an Order directing the judgment debtor to satisfy the judgment debt in monthly instalments. A recent decision of the Supreme Court (Civil Appeal. 271/2013 dated 09.03.2020) dealt with an appeal of a judgement debtor against whom such an Order was issued.
By the said decision the Supreme Court affirmed the first instance Court decision that when assessing the amount of the monthly sum to be paid by a judgment debtor justices are entitled to take into account not only the judgement debtor’s actual earnings but also his potential earning capacity.
In particular the first instance Court found that despite that the judgement debtor did not work he nevertheless had the capacity to find a job and to earn €800,00 per month. Among the factors that the first instance Court took into consideration was that the judgement creditor was only 44 years old, in good health and that previously had rejected job offers with monthly salaries at least €800,00.
Having in mind that the judgement debtor and his family were residing in a privately owned house, the first instance Court concluded that the judgement debtor’s five needed at least €650,00 per month to cover the usual expenses and after taking into consideration a monthly child allowance of €163,00 it finally ordered the judgement debtor to pay €500,00 per month against the Judgement debt.
The Supreme Court agreed fully with the first instance Court’s reasoning.
The said decision affords a useful illustration of the proper approach to a case of an unemployed judgement debtor but nevertheless managed by one means or another to live reasonably well. It serves to emphasise the point that the ability of a judgement debtor to pay a monthly instalment falls to be determined by an evaluation of all his circumstances and resources and that absence of regular income is not decisive.
Οn the other hand it is obvious from the Supreme Court’s decision that when exercising this power justices must not assess a sum not warranted by the direct evidence before them or by justifiable inferences from the evidence.
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