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What is an attachment of earnings order?

Posted 18 September 2015

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The facts on attachments of earnings, how they can affect you and what you can do if your creditor tries to take money straight from your wages.

If you’re in serious debt, you might be worried that your lenders have the power to simply take the money that they want from your wages. This is known as an attachment of earnings order (AoE).

Now, if you’re concerned about this situation, it’s best to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible. So, we’ve put together a breakdown for when and how an AoE can happen.


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When can a lender issue an attachment of earnings order?

To issue an AoE the lender first has to go through the courts, who will decide whether the lender has a genuine claim or not.

If you have a CCJ, or another type of court order against you, it means that you have to pay the debt back, either in one go or in instalments.

If you were to go against the court order and not make any payments, the lender could try and get an attachment of earnings order.

Both secured debts, such as your mortgage, and unsecured debts, such as credit cards and loans, can result in an AoE.

How does it work?

If the lender is successful in getting an AoE against you, the money owed comes straight out of your wages, before you receive them yourself.

Your employer is instructed to give them the money and they are legally obliged to do so. The money would go from your employer to the courts, and from the courts to your lender. If they want to, your employer can also charge a £1 admin fee every time that they are asked to do this.

Does it always apply?

There are some instances were an AoE would never happen. If you are unemployed, self-employed or in the armed forces for example, your lender would not be able to apply for one at all.

Who decides how much they take

You don’t need to worry about the lenders being able to take any amount that they want from your wages. The court would work out how much you can afford and makes sure that you have enough to live on. This is called your Protected Earnings Rate. The court would only deduct money from your wages from the amount that you earn over this threshold.

If your income dips below this rate altogether, then the court would not be able to take anything from your wages at all.

If you receive an AoE

You will know if one of your lenders applies for an AoE because you will receive a form from the court called an N56. The court needs you to fill out your income details on the form, so that they can work out how much to deduct from your wages, if anything at all.

If you receive one of these forms, you really shouldn’t ignore it. If you do, you may be summoned to a court hearing to explain why. If you don’t attend the hearing then the court would be able to issue a warrant for your arrest and this could even result in a 14 day stay in prison.

Therefore, it’s definitely in your best interest to fill out the form correctly and promptly.

Can I stop an AoE order?

It is sometimes possible to stop an AoE going through. For this to happen, your lender has to agree to a payment plan for the debt. If they agree, you can then ask for a suspended attachment of earnings order, by ticking the relevant box on the N56 form.


We hope that this has shed some light on how AoEs work. Next time we’ll do a separate blog just on how an Attachment of Earnings works if you’re in arrears with your council tax. If your debt has become serious to the point that you have a CCJ against you, then it is worth considering whether any of the formal debt solutions available could help you. Don’t forget that there’s always a way out of problem debt. We want to help  you find the right solution for your needs, so why not use the contact us options at the side of the page to reach out and get some advice?



by Christine Walsh

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.