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What Is A Judgment (Debt/ Money) Register Search? – An Ellis & Ellis Explainer

What is a Judgment (Debt/ Money)?

When monies are owed by a person or a legal entity the courts may issue a ruling stating that the creditor (or other plaintiff) is entitled to a certain amount of money. Once the creditor has obtained a judgment, the creditor can employ a host of methods to collect the money that are otherwise unavailable without a
judgment.

Why should the purchasing solicitor/ conveyancer search for a Judgment (Debt/ Money) when investigating title in a property/ right/ interest purchase?

By registering the debt in the Judgment (Debt/ Money) register maintained by the Central Office of the High Court, the creditor makes it public that there is a Judgment (Debt/ Money) against the person or entity affected. Debt judgments from the District Court, the Circuit Court and the High Court may all be
registered.

For the purchasing solicitor/ conveyancer an entry appearing in the Judgment (Debt/ Money) Register can alert them to the potential parsing of the judgment into a judgment mortgage against the sale property, and the inconvenience of the premises possibly being saleable only under court supervision.

Note: Judgments of the Superior Courts (Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and High Court) and of the Circuit Court for a liquidated sum [i.e., judgments which require the payment of a sum of money] are capable of being registered as judgment mortgages. Additionally, a decree of the District Court for a liquidated sum is also capable of being registered as a judgment mortgage (Section 24 of the Courts Act, 1981).

How and what to search for on the Judgment (Debt/ Money) register?

Seller Names: In practical terms, Judgment (Debt/ Money) register searches are typically conducted against the names of the individuals (and/ or entities) selling the property (or an interest/ right).

Purchasers Names: When there is an undertaking by the solicitor to protect the interest of a lender/ lending institute where there is a mortgage to be issued, searches are normally also conducted against the names of those persons or entities purchasing the property/ right/ interest.

The rationale for doing so is that it forms part of a lender’s ‘Review of Security’ and could impact on the lenders’ willingness to provide a mortgage, etc.

Are addresses required to be provided as part of the searching instruction?

The short answer is that addresses are not required. 

Ultimately, the Judgment (Debt/ Money) register is a register of names/ parties against whom a Judgment (Debt/ Money) has been recorded. As such any searches are strictly confined to the names provided in the searching instruction.

What will the Ellis & Ellis Judgment (Debt/ Money) register result show me?

Specifically, as the Ellis & Ellis search will be against the bearers of the names provided, a result will be produced for any matching names, irrespective of address. This could mean that several matches of that name, with varying addresses could be returned.

If no matching names are identified, then that too will be stated in our certified result.

For positive results some of the headers will include the address of the affected party (at the time of judgment), the judgment date, the amount ruled to be owed, comments (re partial payments, etc.), notes of costs, plaintiff details, debtors occupation, the date of registration in the Judgment (Debt/ Money) register itself, and status.

Normally this ‘status’ field for entries will be blank. If latterly the register entry has subsequently been satisfied, vacated or cancelled, that changed status will then be displayed once those details are formally established.

What details will the Judgment (Debt/ Money) register search result NOT inform me about judgments rulings?


As stated above, when a ruling is given that monies are owed by a person or a legal entity, those details can be recorded in the Judgment (Debt/ Money) register maintained by the Central Office of the High Court.

While one might assume that such judgment details are automatically recorded therein, this is simply not the case. For a judgment to be entered it takes the active involvement of a creditor to register same in the official register, or for that matter in any other register where it could potentially be recorded, e.g., the Civil Sheriff’s register.

However, it is noteworthy that since October 2010 the Court Services have withdrawn access to third parties who wish to collect Judgment (Debt/ Money) information that was not formally registered in the Judgment (Debt/ Money) register. Subsequent legal challenges to that decision have also failed to surmount the GDPR underpinnings of the original ruling.

At the time of the Court Services’ decision some sources estimated that unregistered judgments could account for between 50 and 80 percent of all Judgments (Debt/ Money) made. However, the current number of unregistered judgments are not verifiable at the time of writing.

In light of the above, it is not uncommon for a judgment mortgage or affidavit of Judgment to be recorded in the Land Registry of Registry of Deeds respectively even if no record of the original judgment has ever been registered in the Judgment (Debt/ Money) register.

So how will I know if a ‘hit’ on the Judgment (Debt/ Money) register is the seller or my client?

Given that search results return bearers of a name irrespective of their address, it may not be clear if a person that has been recorded on the Judgment (Debt/ Money) register is your person of interest or not. This is particularly true if the associated addresses do not match the address on title.

The explanation for the above statement is that the person might have been recorded at the time of the Judgment (Debt/ Money) at a different address to the current property being conveyed. Alternatively, the property being conveyed is just one of many owned by the seller.

As such, if any such ‘hits’ are identified, as the purchasing solicitor/ conveyancer the matter can be raised with the selling solicitor/ conveyancer to show or provide acceptable declarations that this is or is not their client who bears a similar name, albeit at a different current address.

The same assurances can be sought from the mortgagee if a namesake is identified in a report; particularly if the mortgagee currently lives at a different address to the premises being conveyed.

So how long does a Judgment (Debt/ Money) entry last on the register?

The authority inherent in a Judgment (Debt/ Money) to allow creditors seek enforcement orders last 12 years from the date of the judgment. Nonetheless, in the intervening period, an entry may subsequently be recorded as satisfied, vacated or cancelled on foot of a court order on consent or by way of Notice of
Motion. 

However, unless annulled or otherwise struck off, any entry for a judgment (Debt/ Money) will remain on the registers in perpetuity and thus may still appear as a by-product of having conducted a search on the register irrespective of how old the entry is.

Use a trusted Law Search provider

Given the critical implications set out above of either not conducting a search at all, or worse, conducting an inadequate or erroneous Judgment (Debt/ Money) search; it is imperative that purchasing solicitors/ conveyancers use a trusted law search provider such as Ellis & Ellis.

With our blend of a quick and easy-to-use ordering platform at  www.ellis.ie, over 130 years of professional know-how, and a quality after-sales experience, we provide clients with a superior searching service. 

For added peace of mind Ellis & Ellis provide substantial Professional Indemnity Cover.

Why not join the 1000’s of users who trust Ellis & Ellis to deliver them a competitive edge?

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