A Court Order is not just a piece of paper, it is enforceable against you!/法庭令不仅仅是一张纸,它是可以对你执行!

A Court Order is not just a piece of paper, it is enforceable against you!

**可以在下方查看本文章的华文版本

Court Order Obtained in Matrimonial Proceedings

No one gets married with an intention to divorce. Unfortunately, there are multiple factors which lead to a breakdown of a marriage. According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia, the number of divorce cases in 2018 for both Muslim and non-Muslim household was 50,356 cases.

In usual civil divorce proceedings, (Muslims will have to apply to the Shariah Courts for a divorce) the parties will obtain a Decree Nisi from Court ordering the dissolution of the marriage. At times, the Court will concurrently issue a separate Court Order stating all the terms of the divorce. For example, the Court Order would include one or all of the following:-

  1. the custody, care and control of the children;
  1. the access to the children;
  1. the spousal and/or children maintenance; and
  1. the division of matrimonial assets.

Once the Court Order is sealed by the Court, a copy of it will be delivered to every party and/or the solicitors. What happens if despite having a copy of the Court Order, the person knowing its content refuses to follow it?

Enforcement of the Court Order

A Court Order may be enforced/executed against the non-complying party through the following modes:-

Order for payment of money

First, determine the amount that is due and owing. Then, file the affidavit verifying the amount against the ‘the violator’ pursuant to Rule 72(1) Divorce and Matrimonial Proceedings Rules 1980 (“the DMPR”).

A. Judgment Summons

This is where the debtor is being summoned to Court to settle the arrears. Pursuant to Rule 73(5)(b) of the DMPR and the Debtors Act 1957, the Judge will examine the debtor’s financials and may make an order of commitment to settle the outstanding amount together with costs within a specified time or by instalments. If the debtor fails to do so, he or she may be arrested, especially if there is a possibility that he will likely leave Malaysia, to be brought to Court to explain on the default of the order of commitment. He or she could remain in prison until the hearing date.

If the debtor is unable to provide a satisfactory answer to the Court on the default of the order of commitment, he or she can be imprisoned for up to 6 weeks. However, serving the imprisonment term does not mean the debt has been paid or satisfied. The creditor can still apply for other modes of the execution to recuperate the debt.

In the case of Wong Kam Fung v Chin Chen Kong [2015] 10 MLJ 661, the respondent failed to strictly comply with certain maintenance orders of the court so the petitioner took out a judgment summons against the respondent for payment of arrears. Due to the respondent’s failure in attending the hearing of the judgment summons, the petitioner successfully applied for, inter alia, the respondent’s legal and beneficial interest in the properties to be transferred to her absolutely in order to satisfy the debt.

The procedures for applying for a judgment summons are set out in Rules 72 and 73 of the DPMR and it is a useful mode of execution if it is known that the debtor has the means to pay but deliberately refuses or delays to do so.

B. Garnishee Proceedings

A Garnishee Order is an order which allows the creditor to recover the debt by taking the money through a third party. A simple example would be ordering the bank to release the money in the debtor’s account to pay the creditor. In the context of matrimonial proceedings, the default usually happens when the debtor fails to pay spousal and/or children maintenance or willfully keeps the proceeds from the sale of the matrimonial assets.

(a) Bank account

As mentioned above, the creditor may apply to Court for an order to extract the funds from the debtor’s bank account provided that the creditor has knowledge of the debtor’s bank account details.

(b) Wages

If the debtor is under employment, a Garnishee Order can be issued to the debtor’s employer. In this situation, the employer will deduct the ordered amount from the salary to pay the creditor.

Order requiring a person to do or abstain from doing an act

C. Committal Proceedings

Committal Proceedings for contempt of court may be commenced against any person who deliberately disobeys a Court Order. A more in depth look on committal in matrimonial proceedings is found in the previous article; “Committal in the Family Court”

How to Avoid Execution: Variation Order

If there are factors which make it difficult to comply with the Court Order, the person should apply to Court for a variation order to avoid any of the execution proceedings stated above from being imposed on them.

The Court has the powers under Section 83 and 96 of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 to vary, rescind or substitute maintenance and custody orders respectively. In order to do so, the applicant is required to prove that the Court Order was obtained based on one of these 3 grounds:-

(a) misrepresentation of fact;

(b) mistake of fact; or

(c) where there has been any material change in the circumstances

Misrepresentation of fact

Hayatul Akmal JC (as she then was) held in Malcolm Fernandez v Melissa Marie Albert [2018] 1 LNS 1092:-

(i)    Misrepresentation can either be innocent which entitle to rescission, or fraudulent which allows for repudiation (see Lee Cheong Fah v. Soo Man Yoke [1996] 2 BLJ 356; [1996] 2 MLJ 627);..”

Failure of the party to make full and frank disclosure of their financial position and/or income during the divorce proceedings may amount to misrepresentation of fact. The other person, who is affected by the consequences of the misrepresentation of fact, may apply to the Court for a reassessment of the spousal/children maintenance order.

Mistake of fact 

The Judge also defined mistake of fact in Malcolm Fernandez v Melissa Marie Albert (supra), where it held:-

“(ii)    Mistake of fact is the unconscious ignorance or forgetfulness as to facts material to the contract or into believing in the existence of a thing material to the contract which do not exist while mistake of law is in coming to an erroneous conclusion as to the effects of the law from a series of known facts (see Court of Appeal’s decision in Soon Lee Huat Palm Oil Mill Sdn Bhd v. Stable-Win Sdn Bhd [2013] MLJU 257);”

The Court of Appeal in Lim Soon Heng v Tan Beng Choo (P) [2009] MLJU 261 held that the Court is satisfied that the maintenance order was based on a mistake of facts and the Learned Judge had not given due consideration to the fact that the appellant did not have the means of satisfying the maintenance order prior to November 2004 based on the following facts:-

(a) The husband was a bankrupt since 23.10.1987 and was only discharged on 2.1.1998;

(b) The husband was imprisoned from August 1995 to 1997; and

(c) The husband was only gainfully employed in November 2004.

Therefore, the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and set aside the order to pay all the arrears up to November 2004. Instead, the Court of Appeal varied the date of commencement of the maintenance payment to November 2004 because of mistake of facts.

Material Change in Circumstances 

Another ground and quite commonly used in a variation application is the material change in circumstances. Material changes are subjective but mainly due to old age, health condition or unemployment. 

In Anna Tay Siew Hong v Joseph Ng Tiong Yong [1995] MLJU 257, the court is satisfied that there was a material change in the circumstances after considering the respondent husband’s old age and poor health condition. Since the petitioner wife was being well looked after by their daughter, the Court rescinded the maintenance order. 

Conclusion

The modes of execution are to assist the parties in enforcing an order against a mischief party. The consequences for disobeying a Court Order is dire, where one could spend long period of time in prison. Therefore, the parties should strictly follow the Court order and if impossible to do so, rectify or vary the Court Order as soon as practical to do so.

By:

Joanne Leong & Lee Su Ting

DISCLAIMER: This article is for general information only and should not be relied upon as legal advice and/or legal opinion. Messrs Yeoh & Joanne accepts no liability for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in this article. 

 

法庭令不仅仅是一张纸,它是可以对你执行!

在婚姻诉讼中获得的法院命令

相信没有人结婚是为了离婚。不幸的是,有多种因素导致婚姻破裂。根据马来西亚统计局,2018年穆斯林和非穆斯林家庭的离婚案件数量为50,356起。

在通常的民事离婚诉讼中,(穆斯林必须向伊斯兰教法法院申请离婚),双方将从法院获得一份离婚法庭令(Decree Nisi)以解除婚姻。有时,法院会同时发布单独的法庭令,说明离婚的所有条件。例如,法院令将包括以下一项或全部内容:- 

  1. 子女的监护、照料和控制权;
  1. 接触儿童;
  1. 配偶及/或子女的赡养费;和
  1. 婚姻财产分配。

一旦法院盖章,法庭令的副本将送达每一方当事人和/或律师。如果尽管有法庭令的副本,但知道其内容的人拒绝遵守,会发生什么?

法庭令的执行

法庭令可以通过以下方式对不遵守的一方执行:-

付款的法庭令

首先,确定到期应付的金额。然后,根据《1980年离婚和婚姻诉讼条规》第72(1)条的规定,提交宣誓书,核实“违反者”所欠的金额。

A. 判定债务传票

这是债务人被传唤到法院解决欠款的地方。根据《1980年离婚和婚姻诉讼条规》第73(5)(b)条和《1957年债务人法令》,法官将审查债务人的财务状况,并可发出约束令,在规定时间内或以分期付款方式结清未偿金额和费用。如果债务人不这样做,他或她可能会被逮捕,特别是如果他有可能离开马来西亚,他或她可能会被带到法院,就不履行约束令作出解释。他或她可能一直呆在监狱里,直到开庭审理。

如果债务人不能就违反约束令向法院提供满意的答复,他或她可被监禁长达6周。然而,服刑并不意味着债务已经支付或清偿。债权人仍可申请其他执行方式来追偿债务。

Wong Kam Fung v Chin Chen Kong [2015] 10 MLJ 661一案中,被告未能严格遵守法院的某些赡养令,因此,原告申请判定债务传票,要求被告支付欠款。由于被告未能出席判定债务传票的听证会,除其他外,原告成功地申请了被告以转让财产中的合法和实益权益作为清偿债务的方式。

《1980年离婚和婚姻诉讼条规》第72条和第73条规定了申请判定债务传票的程序,如果知道债务人有支付能力,但故意拒绝或拖延支付,这是一种有用的执行方式。

B. 第三债务人法律程序

第三债务人法律程序令是一种允许债权人通过第三方收回债务的法庭令。一个简单的例子是命令银行释放债务人账户中的钱来支付债权人。在婚姻诉讼中,违约通常发生在债务人未能支付配偶和/或子女赡养费或故意保留出售婚姻财产的收益时。

(a)银行账户

如上所述,债权人可以向法院申请法庭令,从债务人的银行账户提取资金,条件是债权人知道债务人的银行账户细节。

(b)工资

如果债务人受雇,可以向债务人的雇主发出第三债务人法律程序令。在这种情况下,雇主将从工资中扣除规定的金额来支付给债权人。 

要求某人做或不做某一行为的命令 

C. 拘押程序

对任何故意不服从法院命令的人,可提起藐视法庭的拘押程序。前一篇文章对婚姻诉讼中的委托进行了更深入的研究;“家庭法院交付审判”

如何避免法庭令的执行:变更法庭令申请

如果有因素导致难以遵守法庭令,该人应向法院申请变更法庭令,以避免上述任何执行程序强加于他们。

根据《1976年法律改革(婚姻和离婚)法》第83条和第96条,法院有权分别更改、撤销或替代赡养费和监护令。为此,申请人必须证明法庭令是基于以下三个理由之一获得的

(a)歪曲事实;

(b)事实错误;或者

(c)情况有任何重大变化。

对事实的歪曲

Hayatul Akmal司法委员(她当时的身份)在Malcolm Fernandez v Melissa Marie Albert [2018] 1 LNS 1092陈述:-

“(i)虚假陈述如果是无意的,将可以被撤销,如是欺诈性的,则允许被否认(见:Lee Cheong Fah v. Soo Man Yoke [1996] 2 BLJ 356; [1996] 2 MLJ 627);..”

在离婚诉讼期间,一方未能充分和坦率地披露其财务状况和/或收入,可能构成对事实的歪曲。另一个人受到歪曲事实后果的影响,可以向法院申请重新评估配偶/子女赡养费令。

事实错误 

法官还在Malcolm Fernandez v Melissa Marie Albert (见上文) 一案中界定了事实错误,并认为:

“(ii)事实错误是对合同重要事实的无意识的无视或遗忘,或相信不存在的合同重要事物的存在,而法律错误是从一系列已知事实得出关于法律效力的错误结论(见上诉法院在Soon Lee Huat Palm Oil Mill Sdn Bhd v. Stable-Win Sdn Bhd [2013] MLJU 257中的判决);”

上诉法院在Lim Soon Heng v Tan Beng Choo (P) [2009] MLJU 261一案中认为,法院认为赡养令是基于一个事实错误,而法官没有根据以下事实适当考虑上诉人在2004年11月之前没有办法满足赡养令的事实

(a) 丈夫自1987年10月23日起破产,直到1998年1月2日才被解除债务;

(b)丈夫从1995年8月至1997年被监禁;和

(c) 丈夫直到2004年11月才获得有酬就业。

因此,上诉法院允许上诉,并撤销了支付截至2004年11月的所有欠款的命令。相反,由于事实错误,上诉法院将开始支付抚养费的日期改为2004年11月。

环境中的重大变化

另一个在变更法庭令申请中经常使用的基础是环境中的物质变化。物质变化是主观的,但主要是由于年老、健康状况或失业。

Anna Tay Siew Hong v Joseph Ng Tiong Yong [1995] MLJU 257一案中,法院认为,在考虑到被告丈夫的年老和健康状况不佳之后,情况发生了重大变化,和因为请愿妻子得到了女儿的良好照顾,法院撤销了该赡养令。 

结论

执行的方式是协助当事人执行针对造成损害的一方的命令。不服从法庭令的后果是严重的,人们可能会在监狱里呆很长一段时间。因此,双方应严格遵守法庭令,如果无法执行,应尽快申请纠正或更改法庭令。

文章来自于:

律师事务所合伙人梁佩欣律师(Joanne Leong)与李淑婷律师(Lee Su Ting) 

免责声明:本文仅供参考,不应作为法律建议和/或法律意见。Yeoh & Joanne律师事务所不会承担因依赖本文所含信息而产生的任何损失的责任。

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