If you fail to make payments on a debt you owe, you may find the creditor has taken a County Court Judgment (CCJ) against you. This is a legal tool that can be used by creditors to force you to repay money owed, and it can be difficult to fight.
In this guide, we’ll explain what a County Court Judgment is, how CCJs work, and what happens if you discover you’ve had a CCJ taken against you.
What happens if you have CCJs?When you have a CCJ against you, the court orders you to repay any debt included in the judgment. If you don’t repay creditors, you will face further legal action.
You may get a County Court Judgment (CCJ) against you if a creditor takes court action to say that you owe them money and have refused to repay it.
A type of court order available in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, a CCJ is the court’s way of forcing you to repay money owed if they find in favour of the creditor and agree that you have refused to repay a legitimate debt.
If you get a CCJ, that means your creditor – the individual or business you owe money to – has pursued legal action and successfully persuaded the court that you owe money.
Your CCJ will be delivered by post, and will explain in detail:
Once you have received a CCJ, details of it will be held on a public record for six years. It will also remain on your credit report for six years, which will make it harder for you to obtain new lines of credit.
You shouldn’t be surprised by a CCJ – your creditor has to follow a series of steps before you will receive one:
Before they can pursue legal action against you, a creditor has to be able to prove they attempted to come to an agreement over payment.
They will typically send you a letter of claim, offering you several different repayment options. You will then have 30 days to respond, after which they can progress to the next step of the CCJ process.
If you’re unable to come to an agreement with creditors after receiving a claim form, you will receive what’s called a default notice.
A default notice is a formal warning letter – if you don’t repay the disputed amount, they will pursue legal action. The default notice should arrive at least 14 days before any legal action begins.
If you don’t respond to the default notice and still haven’t come to a payment agreement with the creditor, then you will receive a CCJ claim form.
As stated previously, a CCJ is an official court order to repay money owed to the creditor. This is the point where you should seek professional debt advice – failing to deal with a CCJ can result in serious financial consequences.
When you receive a County Court Judgment (CCJ), you will have 14 days to respond to it, unless you have requested an extension.
To repay the CCJ, you will need to fill out a CCJ reply form, where you will outline your income and expenditure. The court will then use this information to decide how much money you can afford to put towards repaying the debt.
Failing to deal with a CCJ can result in serious financial consequences
Once the court has looked at your reply form, it will come to judgment on how much you owe, and how you should pay it.
The court will reach one of two decisions:
You can increase your chances of receiving a judgment by installments by admitting to the claim made against you – using an N9A admission form – and making an offer to repay the debt through a series of monthly payments.
Even if you don’t respond to a CCJ, the court will make a judgment on the case anyway. This is known as a judgment in default.
A judgment in default might take the form of a judgment forthwith or a judgment by installments. Either way, you will still be expected to pay the debt or face further action.
If you choose not to respond to the CCJ, or refuse to repay it once a judgment has been made, you may be faced with one of the following:
When a you receive a CCJ, details of the judgment will be logged on the Register of Judgments, Orders, and Fines, a public register of judgments orders that have been handed down by UK courts. The information will remain there for six years.
Because the register is public, credit reference agencies will have access to this information and will therefore list your CCJ on your credit report. This will temporarily lower your credit rating and may make it harder for you to access new credit agreements or even a bank account.
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If you don’t agree with a CCJ, or you feel that you are actually owed money by the creditor, there is an appeal process in place.
Disputing a CCJ is known as having it ‘set aside’. To have a CCJ set aside, you need to complete an N244 form and return it to the court, including details of why you believe the CCJ is wrong.
A court will only agree to set aside a CCJ if you have good reason to believe the original judgment was wrong, and you can provide proof. If you successfully have a CCJ set aside, you won’t be asked to repay the debt and details of the judgment will be removed from your credit file.
If you receive a CCJ, don’t ignore it. Even if you’re not sure how to handle it, ignoring the judgment can have serious implications for you financial situation and your credit file.
At Your Debt Expert, we’ve worked with thousands of clients who are facing CCJs. Our expert team can help guide you through the process of responding to a judgment, and even help you come up with a debt payment plan that will satisfy your creditors.
For free guidance on CCJs or other financial issues, talk to an expert today. Contact us for free on 0800 082 8086.