Calculating the precise amount owing on a judgment is essential during the judgment enforcement process. If the creditor’s calculation is incorrect, the court may refuse to issue a writ of execution (which is necessary to levy on the debtor’s assets). Furtherore, if the creditor successfully levies on assets, the debtor can seek to quash the levy and writ of execution if the amount stated in the writ of execution is wrong.
Whether you are a defendant needing to understand how much the true payout for the lawsuit will be, or a plaintiff waiting to collect your money, this post will help you navigate how interest is calculated on judgments.
What Is Interest on Court Judgments?
The Texas Legislature has defined “interest” as “compensation for the use, forbearance, or detention of money.” TEX. FIN. CODE § 301.002(a)(4). Many times, with civil lawsuits, you will hear such terms as “just compensation” for the plaintiff, or an award of money which is designed to “make the plaintiff whole.”
Where the plaintiff prevails in his or her lawsuit, interest is designed to make the plaintiff whole for the full value of money he or she should have had since a wrong was committed. This is known as “pre-judgment interest.”
On a related note, “post-judgment interest” covers the period from when the plaintiff wins his or her lawsuit, to when they collect their compensation. Because collecting a judgment in Texas can be difficult, most lawsuits will involve a defendant having to pay both kinds of interest – pre-judgment interest and post-judgment interest – on court judgments.
Although we discuss here mostly what happens in State courts, we want you to also be aware that there is interest applied in the federal courts. Federal statute 28 U.S.C. 1961 governs the federal post-judgment interest rate on a money judgment for civil cases in a district court (there is no specific federal judgment interest rate for pre-judgment interest, though courts have upheld such interest being added to a judgment).
In California, the amount required to satisfy a Judgment is the total amount of the Judgment as entered or renewed plus post-judgment costs; plus post-judgment interest; minus payments received. See CCP §§ 695.210; 685.090 (re: post-judgment costs); 685.010-685.030 (re: post-judgment interest).
The San Diego County Superior Court has a Judgment calculator that can be assessed online at https://ijcalc.sdcourt.ca.gov/.
Post-judgment interest accrues from the date the Judgment is entered.
The post-judgment interest rate is 10 percent per annum in California. In comparison, the federal post-judgment interest rate is set by the weekly average of 1-year Treasury yield for the preceding week in which the Judgment was entered. See 28 U.S.C. 1961. Each of the four district courts for California have links or tables regarding post-judgment interest rates on their websites.
For more information on commercial collections and Judgment enforcement, contact the Law Offices of Ronald P. Slates.