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Being served with a court document is always a nerve-wracking experience, especially if it says you must appear in court on a certain date. An examination order is a New South Wales (NSW) court order that requires a person or company representative to attend court to give information about how they will be able to pay a judgment debt. A judgment debt is a debt a court has ordered to be paid. Receiving an examination order means that you, or a company of which you are a director, owe money to another person or company. Failing to turn up to a court examination can result in an arrest warrant being issued against you, so it is essential that you respond to an examination order. This article will explain everything you need to know when served with an examination order, including: 

  • what you need to bring; 
  • how the examination process works; and
  • what to do if you cannot make the court date. 

What Is an Examination Order?

An examination order forms part of the NSW court process for people owed money under a court order (called ‘judgment creditors’) to receive the money they are owed. The examination order is part of an examination process designed to give judgment creditors more information about the person or company that owes them money. This allows them to work out the most effective way to enforce the judgment debt

There are two steps to the examination process: 

  1. examination notice: the judgment creditor sends the person or company that owes them money (the judgment debtor) an examination notice, which is a questionnaire-style document that asks for information about assets, liabilities, income and expenditure, and request copies of relevant documents, such as pay-slips and bank account statements. 
  2. examination order: if you do not respond to an examination notice within 28 days, the judgment creditor can apply to the court for an examination order.  is a court order that requires you to attend court to provide any requested information about your financial status. 

An examination order must be personally served on you. Typically, a professional ‘process server’ or person who serves court documents will serve the order. The examination order will include all details about when you need to attend court, including the time, date and address of the court. 

Can I Pay the Debt? 

Yes. If you pay the judgment debtor the full debt owed, including any costs and interest owed and included in the final judgment debt, you will not need to attend the examination. 

What if I Am Unable to Attend the Examination? 

If you cannot make the examination date, you should notify the judgment creditor who issued the examination order and suggest an alternative date. The judgment creditor’s contact details, or the contact details of their solicitor if they have legal representation, will be on the examination order. If the judgment creditor agrees to another date, you should notify the court by joint email and request the examination be re-listed for a new date. If the judgment creditor does not agree, you should contact the court and request the examination is adjourned or re-listed. You will need to provide your reason. Depending on the response from the judgment creditor, the court may or may not agree. 

What Happens at the Examination?

The examination is an informal process, rather than a formal interrogation by a judge in open court. It is usually conducted by: 

  • the judgment creditor; 
  • the judgment creditor’s solicitor; or
  • a court officer called a registrar.

The examination will take place in a meeting room or a common area of the court. The other party will ask you:

  • questions about your or the company’s financial circumstances; and
  • to provide copies of any documents requested in the examination order.

If you do not bring the requested documents, the other party may ask the court to adjourn, meaning that the examination will be re-listed on another day so you can provide the documents. Likewise, if you try and hide information or refuse to answer questions, the judgment creditor may ask for an adjournment and for the registrar to order that you produce certain documents. 

What Information Will I Need to Give at the Examination? 

The information you need to give, and any documents you need to bring, will be detailed in the examination order. You should read this carefully before attending court. Generally, you will need to bring information about: 

  • profits earned by you or the company; 
  • your employer (if you have an employer);
  • bank accounts in your or the company’s name; 
  • details of any assets owned by you or the company, including real estate, motor vehicles, other equipment or household contents; and
  • details of any current liabilities (such as mortgages, credit cards, personal loans or other debts). 

You may also need to bring along copies of: 

  • income tax returns; 
  • any profit and loss statements or balance sheets; 
  • bank statements; 
  • loan agreements or mortgage documents; and
  • documents relating to motor vehicle ownership (such as registration papers). 

What if I Do Not Attend the Examination? 

If you do not turn up at the examination, and the other party can prove that you received a copy of the examination order, the court will typically write to you and give you 14 days to: 

  • pay the debt; or 
  • go to court for the examination. 

If you fail to attend, the court can issue a warrant for you to attend court for the next examination. The court will also order that you pay the other party’s costs of the examination and attending court. 

Key Takeaways

It is essential that you: 

  • do not ignore an examination order; and 
  • respond quickly if you can not make the court date. 

The best way to deal with an examination order is to pay the debt you owe. If this is not possible, you should attend court on the date and give all the information requested by the other party. Failing to do so could mean that you risk receiving an arrest warrant and paying even more costs to the other party. If you have any questions about an examination order or need assistance with a dispute, please contact LegalVision’s litigation lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.  

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