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Civil Judgment Debt Attachment of Earnings Order (County Court)

The Attachment of Earnings Act 1971 (“the 1971 Act”) allows a court to order you, or your company, to make deductions from the earnings of an employee to recover unpaid civil judgment debts (county courts).

The form that the court sends you will identify which type of attachment order you are being asked to operate.

Maintenance and fines are priority orders and take ‘priority’ among themselves and other priority orders by date they were issued. 


How to Operate an AEO

An AEO tells you:

  • The total debt owed by your employee (unless the order is for ongoing maintenance)
  • The amount you should usually deduct each week or month (the NDR)
  • The amount below which you must not make a deduction (the PER).

If your employee works at a different location to your office, the work can be done by a payroll administrator or a branch manager and you can ask the court to send further correspondence to an alternative address.

  • Deduct (if possible) the amount specified in the order
  • Send the deduction to the address stated in the order
  • Pay the remainder (if there are no other deductions to be made) to your employee


Under the 1971 Act you must:

  • Write to the court (or CAPS for County Court Orders) within ten days of receiving an order if you do not employ the person named in it
  • Take all reasonable steps to comply with an order or a varied order
  • Write to the CAPS within ten days if the employee leaves your employment – a telephone call is not sufficient. An AEO lapses from the pay day coinciding with or following termination of employment.
  • Write to CAPS that made the order within seven days if you learn that a new employee has an existing order against him, giving details of your employee’s earnings and anticipated earnings.


Failing to comply with an AEO, or failing to give the required notice within the time limits, are offences under the 1971 Act, subject to a fine that can be imposed on you or yourorganisation or a term of imprisonment up to 14 days. If you have any questions relating
to the Order, or require clarification, you must contact the court or CAPS immediately.


The court will tell you in writing if it:

  • changes (varies) the NDR (Normal Deduction Rate) or PER (Protected Earnings Rate). A magistrates’ court (for a maintenance order) may vary the PER for a period of up to four weeks. You should revert to the original PER after the period stated in the order
  • discharges (cancels) the order, or if the order has been paid in full. You must stop deductions as soon as possible and certainly within seven days of receiving the notice. Any money deducted should be sent to the court at once. You should check the amount of the final deduction. It may be less than the usual deduction, for example when it completes payment of the sum due.


Attaching an Order to an Employee within BrightPay


1) Go to Payroll, and select the employee from the listing

2) Under Additions & Deductions, click the Add button

3) Select Attachment Orders…

4) Click ‘Add Attachment Order’ and select the appropriate Attachment Order from the listing.


Setting up the Civil Judgment Debt Attachment 



1) Enter a description for the Attachment Order.

2) Enter the reference number of the Attachment Order, which can be found on the documentation received.

3) Enter the date the Order was made.

4) Enter the date to apply the Order from.

5) Enter the date to stop – the Order should only be stopped once the full amount of the Order has been paid or you have received notification from the Courts to stop it.



1) Priority – tick the box provided if the Order is a priority order.

2) Periodic amount - enter the periodic amount to be deducted, as stated on the Order.

3) Protected Earnings – enter the Protected Earnings Ratefor the employee, as stated on the Order.

4) Admin Charge – tick the box provided if you, the employer, wish to deduct £1 as an administration charge for operating the Order.

5) Enter the total amount to be paid.

6) Cumulative amount paid at start - if the employee has already paid some of the attachment (for example in a previous employment) enter the amount here.

7) Enter any Year to Date deductions, if applicable

8) Click Save. 

BrightPay will now apply the Attachment Order on the employee’s payslip from the relevant period.


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