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Information on Diligence against Earnings

Earnings arrestment, current maintenance arrestment (CMA) and conjoined arrestment orders are ways for creditors to enforce the payment of debt. These arrestments, known collectively as diligence against earnings, allow a creditor to instruct a debtor's employer to make a deduction from the debtor's earnings.

Earnings arrestment

Earnings arrestment is used to make a deduction from a debtor's earnings for enforcement of a single debt. A creditor must be in possession of a decree (or relevant document of debt) and must have issued the debtor with a Charge for Payment, which must have expired, before proceeding with diligence against earnings. However where the debt is being pursued by a Fines Enforcement Officer for an unpaid court fine, no Charge for Payment is required. Where the debtor is an individual, creditors, including Fines Enforcement Officers, must also have provided a Debt Advice and Information Package (DAIP).

Current maintenance arrestment

Current maintenance arrestment (CMA) can be used to enforce the payment of maintenance, such as a regular allowance awarded by a court on divorce, when the debtor is in default. A creditor must have a current maintenance order from the court on which the debtor has defaulted and, where the debtor is an individual, the creditor must also have provided them with a DAIP.

Conjoined arrestment order

A conjoined arrestment order is an order granted by the court to enforce payment of two or more of the same type of debts, at the same time. For example, an earnings arrestment and CMA may be in place at the same time, as they are different diligences, but two earnings arrestments must be joined together and treated as one arrestment.

Both earnings arrestment and current maintenance arrestment require the debtor's employer to deduct an amount from the debtor's net earnings (earnings after tax and national insurance), on each pay-day, and pass that deduction to the creditor. For conjoined arrestment orders, the debtor's employer is required to make a deduction and pass it to the court to distribute the funds.

Calculating deductions

The amount that can be deducted by way of earnings arrestment is calculated from deduction tables provided in updated regulations. Tables are provided for daily, weekly and monthly earnings.

The amount that will be deducted depends on the amount of earnings the debtor receives and the frequency of pay. The employer will not make a deduction if the debtor earns less than the lowest amount on the table. For current maintenance arrestment the amount deducted is calculated in accordance with section 53 of the Debtors (Scotland) Act 1987 and a minimum amount of daily earnings is protected from deduction.

Where there is an earnings arrestment and a current maintenance arrestment against the same debtor, and the debtor does not earn enough to meet both deductions, a formula is used to calculate how much should be deducted for each creditor. This formula is detailed in section 199 of the Bankruptcy and Diligence etc. (Scotland) Act 2007.

The legislation dealing with diligence against earnings is contained within Part 3 and Schedule 2 of the Debtors (Scotland) Act 1987. The deduction amounts for earnings arrestments and protected daily earnings in a CMA are updated by Regulation approximately every three years. Recent updated regulations contain the most relevant information.

This section of the website is intended to give a broad overview of diligence. It is not a full statement of the law nor does it provide a full description of each of the processes.