We know how stressful it is dealing with debt from Judge & Priestley or any other debt collection agency. However, when you strip away the mystery from debt collectors, you’ll see that they really don’t have as much power as they make out.
There are a lot of methods you can take, from debt management plans to government-approved insolvency schemes, to get debt-free and stop creditor contact for good.
Any legitimate debt collection company in the UK has to be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), including Judge & Priestley. The FCA set out a long list of rules for debt collectors designed to protect you from unfair or abusive behaviour.
In this article, we’ll going to explore exactly how to deal with Judge & Priestley debt collectors so that you can get your finances under control and enjoy a future free of debt.
How can I deal with debt from Judge & Priestley?
You can deal with debt from Judge & Priestley by checking if you actually have to pay the debt, knowing your rights against Judge & Priestley, requesting a breathing space from creditor contact if it’s appropriate, refusing to take on more loans and budgeting carefully to pay off your debts.
You can also practice tactics for paying off debt like the debt snowball and debt avalanche method. Make sure you pay your priority bills and debts first, and see if you can get a refund on your debt, if a creditor was irresponsible in giving you a loan.
9 steps to deal with debt from Judge & Priestley
Check if you actually have to pay the debt
Before you pay any money to Judge & Priestley, check whether you actually owe the debt. Sometimes, debt collectors contact you because you’re living at the address of the previous debtor, or they’ve confused your name with the actual debtor. If you’re unsure whether you owe the debt or not, send the debt collector a ‘prove it’ letter. This is just a letter asking for proof of the debt. Don’t acknowledge or deny the debt at all, just ask for a copy of the original credit agreement and details of the account, which should help you ascertain quickly whose debt it is.
If your debt is over 6 years old, and you haven’t acknowledged it or made any payments towards it in 6 years, you might not have to pay it. This is called a ‘statute barred’ debt, and it means that your debt is too old to be legally recovered in court. Although debt collectors like Judge & Priestley can technically still contact you, there’s nothing they can do to actually enforce the debt.
Know your rights against Judge & Priestley debt collectors
Debt collectors in the UK are not allowed to:
- Call you at work, unless you’ve given them express permission to do so.
- Let your employer, family, friends or colleagues know that you owe a debt or that they are a debt collector.
- Contact you on social media websites, such as Twitter and Facebook.
- Contact you outside of 8am-9pm on working days, or at all on weekends and holidays.
- Persistently contact you either by phone, letter or in person
- Add more than 0.8% interest per day to the original debt.
- Make false allegations against you, or pretend that they have powers which they don’t
- Imply that legal action can be taken against you when it can’t, for example, suggesting that they can access your salary to pay your debt without a court order
- Threaten to send you to prison (debt collectors don’t have the power to do this, and you can’t go to prison for most debts in the UK).
- Provide falsified documents or impersonate bailiffs or legal authorities.
- Use jargon or complicated language to confuse you
- Pressure you to sell your home to pay off the debts
- Pressure you to take out more credit to pay off the debt
- Try to embarrass you in public
- Operate in a way that is considered threatening or abusive.
- Enter your home without permission.
See the full list of your rights against debt collectors and what debt collectors in the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) handbook. If a debt collector breaches any of the above rules, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), who have the power to make debt collection agencies put things right, for example, refunding you the interest on your debt.
Getting a handle on your budget is one of the best ways to get debt-free for good. A useful budgeting tactic is the Three Accounts System, created by debt charity Christians Against Poverty.
The Three Accounts System encourages you to take out three separate accounts for your money.
The first account is for your direct debits (such as rent, insurance and debt repayments), the second is for your weekly spending and the third is for saving. Each month you work out your income (salary, benefits, child benefit, child maintenance payments etc.) and your outgoings (how much money has to go towards debt repayments, mortgage and rent, for example).
You then take your income for the month, and separate it into these three different pots. In the first pot – your direct debit account – you put the all the money you need for your direct debits, whether that is rent or your monthly phone bill. In the second account, put the money you’ve budgeted for your weekly spend, for example, groceries or any other weekly expenses (don’t forget to add a few treats if you can afford them, as this makes the budgeting process more enjoyable, as you won’t feel deprived). Any money left over is for your savings account, and it’s a good idea to plan regular amounts to put aside each month, for example, for birthdays, school trips or emergencies.
The Three Accounts system means that you always know where your money is going, how much you have to save and how much you have to spend. Rather than playing ‘cash machine roulette’ every time you go to an ATM and wondering if you have any money left in your account as you punch in your pin, you’ll have the joyous certainty of knowing exactly what is in there to spend, and that your bills and debts are all getting paid on time.
It’s also a good idea to look at your expenses, and see where you can save money to pay off your debt faster. Use sites like Uswitch.com to see whether you can find a cheaper electricity, phone or broadband company, and ignore the branded items in supermarkets.
Request a breathing space
It is your right in the UK to request a ‘breathing space’ from creditors and debt collectors like Judge & Priestley. Creditor contact and debt collector contact can be stressful, and sometimes you just need a bit of space to organise a proper repayment plan. Most debt collection companies will allow you 30 days of ‘breathing space’, when they are not allowed to contact you.
Due to the Covid-19 crisis, the government is introducing more support for those struggling to deal with debts, including a 60-day breathing space from May 2021. During the 60 day period, you’ll receive professional debt advice to sort out your debt issues long-term, and your creditors will not be allowed to get in touch.
To request breathing space for your debt, you should:
- Contact your creditor(s) to say that you’re having financial difficulties, and that you want a 30 day breathing space to seek support from a debt advice charity. Make sure you approach a charity such as StepChange, National DebtLine or Christians Against Poverty, as they can help you with free debt management plans and expert debt advice.
- Offer some proof to your creditor that you are seeking debt problems, as some creditors will require this before starting a breathing space. For example, if you’ve contacted a debt charity, you can send your creditor a reference number, or the date that you contacted them. You can also ask the charity to provide you with proof of contact.
You can also request a mental health crisis breathing space, if you’re receiving mental health crisis treatment. This breathing space lasts for the whole time you’re receiving treatment and for 30 days after, no matter how long treatment is.
Refuse to take on more loans
Dealing with debt is undeniably stressful, and we understand the temptation to reach for another loan when you’re being chased by debt collectors for the first one. However, there is free support available out there which you can access, rather than taking on more expensive debt.
For example, you may be eligible for government benefits to top up your finances. If you earn below a certain amount or are unemployed, you could be entitled to benefits like Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit or Universal Credit. Check if you’re entitled to income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA), which you can claim alongside Universal Credit. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help you with the following:
- A Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) from your council, to help you pay rent if you’re struggling financially.
- Getting your benefits paid early.
- Getting an interest-free loan or benefit advance from the government (you will have to pay this back)
- Welfare assistance from your local council, for example, vouchers to pay for furniture or household appliances. This could be a lifesaver if your fridge breaks and your only other option for getting one would be taking out a loan.
- Grants to help with different expenses. Make sure you check out the charity Turn2Us which has a Grant calculator, and shows what grants you can get in your local area.
Always pay your priority bills first
There are certain bills and debts which have a more serious effect on your life than others, so it’s important that you focus on paying these first. You may have debts on several credit cards, but if Judge & Priestley are chasing you for council tax arrears, you need to try and pay these first, as you can end up in court more quickly if you owe council tax.
Priority bill and debts include:
- Mortgage, rent and any loans which are secured against your home (meaning you could lose your home if you don’t pay them). Paying these debts keeps a roof over your head.
- Council Tax. Make sure you pay your Council Tax, as it is one of the few debts that can result in imprisonment (of up to 3 months) if you deliberately refuse to pay when you have money to do so.
- Child Maintenance (this is one of the very few debts that can be taken directly from your bank account if you don’t pay, without the need for court involvement)
- Gas and electricity bills, to avoid your vital utilities being shut off
- Income Tax, National Insurance and VAT
- Hire purchase agreements, if you need to use the equipment you’ve bought on hire purchase for work or other vital activities
- Benefit overpayments debts or social fund overpayment debts
- Court fines
Debt is as much a psychological issue as a financial one, and the debt snowball method helps motivate you emotionally to pay off your debt. You start by paying off your smallest debt first, while making the minimum repayments on your other debts. You’ll get the endorphin rush of paying off a debt much earlier, which will spur you on to repay the rest. When you’ve paid off your smallest debt, you then focus on your next smallest and so on until they are all paid off.
The debt avalanche may work better for you than the debt snowball method if you have a lot of high-interest loans. With the debt avalanche method, you focus on paying off the debt that is costing you the most interest first, saving yourself more money in the long run. Then, you focus on the debt that has the highest interest after that, until all your debts are paid off.
See if you can get a refund
If you were mis-sold a loan (most likely, a payday loan) that debt collectors like Judge & Priestley are now chasing you for, you can complain to the FOS and potentially get a refund, up to thousands of pounds.
Being mis-sold a loan means that the lender didn’t properly assess your financial situation. For example, if you only earn £1000 a month but the loan is £3,000 it would be irresponsible of the company to lend you the money, as there are clear signs that you’ll struggle pay it back. If your lender failed to:
- Let you know how and when to pay back your loan
- Let you know how much your repayments would cost in total
- Cross-check your personal and financial circumstances to see if you’d be able to afford loan repayments without getting into further debt
- Include risk warnings about what would happen if you couldn’t repay in its advertising
- Inform you of how to complain
You may be entitled to a refund of the interest and late fees on your loan. However, you won’t get refunded the cost of the original loan, and will still have to pay that back, as you already benefited from the money you borrowed.
You should avoid paying a claims firm to get your refund, as they can take up to 25% of your refund. Use Resolver’s free online tool to calculate how much you may be due from a loan.
Contact a debt charity
Debt charities like Christians Against Poverty, StepChange and National Debtline offer expert, free advice on debt. You may also be able to access a Debt Management Plan (DMP) with a charity, where they can help freeze or reduce late payment fees and interest charges on your debt, so that you can focus on repaying it.
Who are Judge & Priestley Credit Solutions?
Judge & Priestley Credit Solutions (J&P CS) are a debt collection service. Part of the solicitors group Judge & Priestly, they help companies recover unpaid debts from customers.
For example, if you owe money to Scottish Power and you haven’t paid in several months, Scottish Power are likely to consider your debt a ‘bad debt’ (unlikely to be paid off, or worth the money to chase), and pass it on to a debt collection service like Judge & Priestley Credit Solutions. Judge & Priestley Credit Solutions will contact you on behalf of Scottish Power usually via letter or phone call, to try and get you to pay up.
Judge & Priestley Credit Solutions collect debts on behalf of many organisations, including local government, utilities companies and security operations. Judge & Priestley have access to legal experts in their team, as well as pre-legal debt collection (the collections process before court involvement) experts, so they know the whole spectrum of debt recovery, and what they’re entitled to do. However, this shouldn’t intimidate you. As a debt collection agency, Judge & Priestley don’t have any more legal powers than your original creditor (person or company you owed money to), and you have lots of rights when it comes to your debts and whether you have to pay them.
How can I write off debt with Judge & Priestley?
You may be dealing with a situation where you simply can’t afford to pay anything towards your debt. You may have a terminal illness or be permanently unable to work. These are really tough situations, and the last thing you want to be dealing with is debt collectors.
If you have circumstances where you just can’t pay anything towards the debt, you could ask your creditors to write off your debt. If creditors can see that they are unlikely to get repayments from you, you have no valuable assets that can be sold, and you prove that you are in a situation where it is not fair for them to keep pursuing the debt, they may agree to write off some or all of your debts.
However, you’ll need to provide evidence and proof, and creditors will only write off your debt in the most serious of situations. If you get your debts written off in full, it will be marked in your credit history as paid, which means the debt and any negative marks will drop off your credit score. If your creditor is willing to write off part of a debt if you agree to repay the remaining amount in a lump sum, this will be marked on your credit file as a partial payment. Having a partially settled debt on your credit score can lower it and hurt your chances of getting other important loans, although it will eventually drop off after six years.
If you have a mental health issue that might affect your ability to make repayments, you can let your creditors know through a debt and mental health evidence form (DMHEF). This encourages creditors to be more considerate with you, and consider different ways of communicate with you. Most creditors are likely to show more understanding if they receive a detailed DMHEF, which will take some of the pressure of you.
If you can’t get a creditor to agree to write off your debt, you can make this happen through an insolvency situation like an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA), Debt Relief Order (DRO) or Bankruptcy. However, these options all have a serious effect on your credit score, so make sure you seek free debt advice before going for one of them.
Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA)
An IVA is a government approved debt solution, which helps you write off your debt for good. With an IVA, you to pay back a small percentage of your total debt, and get the rest of it cleared. At the end of the IVA (which runs for 5-6 years), no matter how much money you have left to pay back, the debt is written off, and the IVA will drop off your credit record after it is discharged (ended). An IVA also gives you legal protection against your creditors, which means that Judge & Priestley or any other debt collector or creditor has to contact your Insolvency Practitioner (IP) about your debt, and not you. You will make small, monthly payments towards your debt, based only on what you can afford. At IVA Advice, we offer free, expert advice on IVAs, so if you think an IVA might be the right solution, feel free to give us a call.
Debt Relief Order (DRO)
A Debt Relief Order (DRO) gives you legal protection against your creditors (they are no longer allowed to contact you about the debt), and writes off your debt after 12 months. A DRO is only available if you don’t own any valuable assets, for example, your own home, and you have less than £50 in disposable income.
Going bankrupt should be a last resort. While bankruptcy does write off your debt, it has a serious effect on your life and credit rating. You can’t be the director of a limited company during your bankruptcy, so it can affect your career if you manage a business. However, your bankruptcy will be removed from your credit file six years after it has ended. Always seek free debt advice before deciding to go bankrupt.
Can Judge & Priestley enter my house or remove my belongings?
Judge & Priestley have no right to enter your home without your permission or take any of your belongings to repay your debt. It’s important to know that debt collectors are not the same as bailiffs. Bailiffs can only be ordered to your home by the court, and there are many steps in the debt collection process before court action.
Judge & Priestley can technically send agents to your door to discuss your debt repayments. However, you’re under no obligation to let them in or answer the door. If a debt collector or creditor tries to force entry into your home, they are breaking the law, and the same goes for if they pretend they have the right to take your belongings.
Even if bailiffs do visit after a court order, they are not allowed to take essential household goods, tools or vehicles you need for work (unless they can reasonably be replaced with cheaper versions) and children’s toys and belongings. In most cases, bailiffs can also only take things from inside your home if you let them in or if they come through an unlocked door, so make sure all doors and windows are locked. If a bailiff is physically threatening you, call 999.
Can Judge & Priestley take me to court if I don’t pay my debts?
Judge & Priestley can take you to court over your debt, if you continue to ignore all contact for them or put any debt management plans in place. Although there are many steps before court, Judge & Priestley can eventually get a County Court Judgement (CCJ) against you, which demands that you pay the debt. This comes in the form of a letter and will include information about:
- how much you owe
- how to pay (in full or in instalments)
- the deadline for paying
- who you have to pay
If you don’t pay the amount ordered by the CCJ, whether that’s in full or in instalments, Judge & Priestley can apply to the court to take money from you in the following ways:
- Third Party Debt Order. This orders the person who holds your money (usually your bank) to pay it straight to the person you owe, i.e. Judge & Priestley. This order tells your bank or building society to freeze the money in your account, and you may be charged a fee for this. You’ll then get a form called an N349 Interim third party debt order which will inform you that the money in your account has been frozen. This order will tell you to attend your local County Court hearing centre. Here, the judge will decide whether to make a Final Third Party Debt Order. This means that your bank or building society must pay Judge & Priestley the frozen amount of money. Your bank is only allowed to freeze the amount of money in your account at the time of the Third Party Debt Order. Any money paid into your account after this cannot be frozen, and you can withdraw it. You can also continue to receive deposits of money while your bank account is frozen, although you can’t make payments or transfers.
- Attachment of Earnings. This is a court order which tells your employer to deduct money straight from your salary to pay off your debt. This money goes straight to the court and is then paid to Judge & Priestley .
After a CCJ, Judge & Priestley may also apply for a Charging Order against your home. This means that if you continue not to pay your debt, Judge & Priestley l can sell your home to pay it off.
As these are obviously serious consequences of not paying debt, it’s very important to take action on your debt before it gets to this stage. It costs time and money for Judge & Priestley to chase your debt all the way to the court stage, and if you arrange a debt repayment plan either with them or through the support of a charity, they are unlikely to keep bothering you.
Some formal debt solutions in the UK can overturn or neutralise the effects of a CCJ. IVAs will usually reverse a CCJ, unless you have a Charging Order against your valuable assets (where, if you don’t make the demanded repayments, your creditor can sell your assets). With DROs and Bankruptcy, the CCJ will still technically go ahead, but it can be included in your DRO or Bankruptcy, which means you won’t face legal action or have to pay the amount that you are court ordered to pay. Some debts, including benefit overpayments as a result or fraud and child maintenance arrears, can’t be protected by bankruptcy.
We’ve covered everything you need to know about dealing with debt from Judge & Priestley , and we hope you’ve found this a helpful read. Remember that there are many solutions to dealing with debt before and after it gets to the stage of going to court. The quicker you take action on your debt, the sooner you will realise how possible it is to live a life free of the stress of debt.