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County Court Judgment CCJ Debt

What is County Court Judgment debt?

A County Court Judgment (CCJ) is a type of court order in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that might be registered against you if you fail to repay the money you owe. It’s a court order which tells you to pay the money you owe to a debt. It’s one of the actions your creditors can take as part of the debt collection process.

If you receive a county court claim form you have just over two weeks to respond. It’s very important to respond in the timeframe given because if you don’t, the court could order you to pay the debt back at a rate you can’t afford. This could lead to further enforcement action.

You can only receive a County Court Judgment (CCJ) in England or Wales. The court process that creditors use in Northern Ireland and Scotland works differently.

If you’ve received a county court claim form, don’t panic. If a creditor’s started court action, you need to deal with it straight away.

What to do if you have received a letter of claim?

Before a creditor can proceed with a county court claim, they must send you a ‘letter of claim’ in the post, providing details of the debt. If you receive a letter of claim, don’t panic. You have 30 days to respond with the reply form provided. However, it’s important to reply to the letter of claim within the timeframe given, as a creditor can begin court action if you don’t. Use the reply form to:
  • Respond to the creditor
  • Fill in the enclosed financial statement (if you agree you owe the debt) to make an offer of payment if you can’t afford to pay the debt in full
  • Let the creditor know you’re seeking debt advice
  • Request more information from the creditor about the debt, if you need it
If you and your creditor can agree on a repayment arrangement from your response, court action can be avoided.

Completing the county court claim forms

You have 14 days to get the completed N9A or N9B back to the creditor, but the court allows a few days extra for the claim pack to get to you. The exact deadline depends on which court issued the claim. If you don’t have time to reply by post you can usually reply online, or apply for an extension using the ‘acknowledgement of service’ form.

What happens next?

Once you’ve returned your court forms, if you’ve returned the N9A Admission form the creditor or court should agree on an amount you can afford to pay towards your CCJ, based on the information you provide on the form. The amount agreed will usually be paid in monthly instalments.

If you keep to the terms of the order by paying the right amount on time, any further action by your creditors is limited. If you’re a homeowner the creditor is allowed to apply for a charging order to secure the debt against your home, but other than this, no enforcement action can be taken against you.

If you don’t return the forms on time, or the amount the court sets is too high, you should read our advice on dealing with a CCJ to understand what your options are when dealing with a CCJ.

Other important information about a CCJ?

A creditor may apply for a County Court Judgment against you if they think you won’t repay the money you owe them. If the courts agree with the creditor, they’ll issue the judgment and tell you to pay the money back. You’ll receive information about your CCJ in the post, at which point you can choose:

  • Payback the full amount straight away
  • Ask to pay later or in instalments
  • Dispute the claim or amount owed (if you think the creditor’s claim is incorrect)
  • Claim against the creditor (if you think the creditor owes you money, e.g. for breaching a contract)

If you ignore a CCJ or don’t meet its terms, the court may take more serious action, such as taking your belongings to repay the debt.

Who will see my County Court Judgment?

Your County Court Judgment will be added to a public database called the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines. There are two exceptions to this:

  • If you pay the full amount within one calendar month of the CCJ being issued, it won’t be recorded
  • If you dispute the CCJ and prove to the courts it was issued in error, your CCJ may be cancelled or ‘set aside’, meaning it won’t be recorded

If recorded, your CCJ will remain on the register for six years. Anyone can check the public register for a small fee – they’ll be able to see your name and address, the case and court number, and the amount of money owed. This CCJ check won’t show them to who you owe the money.

How will a CCJ affect my credit profile?

If your CCJ isn’t recorded on the Register (e.g. because you paid it off immediately) it won’t appear on your credit report – although any defaults that may have led to your CCJ will be visible. If your CCJ is recorded on the Register, it will be added to your credit report.

Having a CCJ on your report will significantly lower your credit score. Your credit information is checked by lenders when you apply for credit, and a CCJ can negatively affect your ability to get a loan, credit card or even a bank account. Employers and letting agents may also check your credit report – and therefore see your CCJ – before they hire you or let you rent a property.

How long does a CCJ stay on your credit report?

A CCJ will stay on your credit report for six years, even if you pay it off during this time. After six years it will no longer appear on your credit report, even if you’ve not paid it all off by then.

If you want to get an idea of how a CCJ is affecting your ability to get credit, check your credit score. This is a number between 0-999 that reflects your credit information. The higher it is, the better your chances of being approved for credit.

Can I remove a CCJ from my credit report?

You can ask us and the other two credit reference agencies to remove a CCJ from your credit report if you can prove that:
  • You paid the full amount within one calendar month of the CCJ being issued
  • It’s been six years since you received the CCJ (in this case it should be automatically removed)
  • You disputed the CCJ and it was cancelled or ‘set aside’ by the courts
  • An insurance company was responsible for the debt
If you haven’t been notified of a CCJ by post, but there’s a CCJ on your credit report, your first step should be to identify the case number and contact the court where the judgment was made.

Can lenders see my CCJ after six years?

After six years, your CCJ will be removed from your credit report, so lenders won’t be able to see it when they’re deciding whether or not to lend you money. When the CCJ is removed, your credit score should go up too – making you an all-around stronger applicant for future finance.

What happens if I ignore a CCJ?

If you’re going to struggle to make the payments on your CCJ, you might be tempted to ignore it altogether. But if you don’t respond to it, in some way at least, you could face further and more serious action. The action your lender might take if you don’t act on your CCJ could include:
  • Discuss with you an attachment of earnings, where the money you owe would come directly from your wages
  • Send High Court Enforcement officers to your home, they’d ask you to pay the debt, and if you can’t they might look for goods in your home that could be used against the debt
  • Have bailiffs visit your home, where they could ask for goods or money to be used against the amount on the CCJ
Neither High Court Enforcement Officers nor Bailiffs can force entry and push past you when they visit you for the first time, but it’s still stress and strain that’s best avoided. Even if you’re struggling, it’s best to ask if you can pay the money back in more manageable instalments, or at a later date – ignoring a CCJ completely is never a good idea.

Can I negotiate a CCJ?

When you receive your CCJ, you’ll also get a reply form included with the letter of claim. You need to send the completed reply form to the creditor within 30 days of the date the letter was sent (you’ll find this date at the top of the letter). It’s really important to do this on time, else the court won’t take your circumstances into account.

When you reply, you can either agree that you owe the debt or say that you want to dispute it. If it’s found that you do need to pay the debt in the CCJ, you can then negotiate how soon it is paid, and whether it’s possible for you to pay in instalments.

How can I rebuild my credit rating after a CCJ?

When you’ve repaid your CCJ it will be marked as ‘satisfied’ on your credit report; this looks better than an outstanding judgment, but it will still be difficult to get credit at good rates. But the good news is your credit rating should improve as your CCJ ages, so long as you manage any other credit agreements sensibly.

There are several things you can do to try and improve your credit rating:

  • Register for the electoral roll at your current address
  • Meet the repayments for your CCJ and all other credit agreements. If you think you might default on a payment, contact the lender in advance to discuss your options
  • Minimise the number of applications you make for credit. Aim for a maximum of one application every three months

Get free debt advice today

You can get free debt advice from IVA Advice. While many people may be wary of asking for help, it’s important to take responsibility for your situation. We will offer you a plan that deals with all aspects of your financial situation, including debt advice. If you feel like there’s nothing you can do to deal with your debts, and you want advice on writing them off and doing monthly payments, then contact IVA Advice. We can help you with a debt solution, debt management or IVA proposal. We’ll help you to prepare a budget and work out what options there are to deal with your debts. Call IVA Advice and chat with us, so we can understand the best way to help you.