What is a County Court Judgement?
A County Court Judgement, also known as a CCJ, is a court order that can be issued against you if you fall behind on payments or cannot reach an agreement to pay back the money owed. CCJ’s are used by creditors to reclaim the money owed. They can only be used in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. In Scotland, they use a different form of debt collection called ‘enforcing a debt by diligence’.
A County Court Judgement for credit arrangements must follow a warning letter sent to you, such as a default notice or letter before action, at least 14 days before any action is taken. This letter should outline the steps you should undertake to resolve the issue, and clearly state what could potentially happen if left unresolved. You will normally have two weeks to respond to this and to try and reach an agreement with the creditors.
How should I respond to a CCJ Claim?
- Defend the judgement, if you disagree with the amount owed
- Admitting the claim if you agree you owe the money your creditors are claiming
- Submitting an acknowledgment of service if you intend to defend the claim but need longer than the 2 weeks to prepare your defence
If you can’t afford your payment plan because your situation has changed, your creditor might agree to reduce the amount you need to pay each month. If the creditor rejects your repayment offer, or if you ignore the warning, the CCJ will be issued. You must get advice straight away. If you ignore the warning the court will not have heard your side of the story.
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What should you do when you receive a CCJ?
Receiving a County Court Judgement can be quite unsettling but responding quickly and effectively may help the situation. If you get a judgement, this means that the court has formally decided that you owe the money.
The judgement will come in the post and will explain:
- How much you owe
- How to pay (in full or in instalments)
- The deadline for paying
- Who to pay
If you’ve admitted the claim and offered to pay in monthly instalments, you’ll receive a judgment by instalments where the court will set the monthly repayments, based on the information you provided.
If you didn’t respond to the claim, the court will issue you with a judgement in default and might be judgement by instalments or a judgement forthwith.
When issued with a judgement, you normally have two weeks to respond. It’s important you don’t ignore it. You can ask the court to look at it again if you feel you can’t afford the repayments.
What happens after the CCJ has been issued?
If you don’t stick to the terms of the arrangement, the creditor may ask the court to take further action. These may include:
Warrant of Execution – This is where the creditor asks the court to send bailiffs to collect the money owed or any goods that could potentially be sold to clear the amount owed. The court will issue the Warrant, however, you can appeal it to stop the Warrant being issued to allow you to repay the debt.
Attachment of Earnings – The creditor may ask for money to be taken directly from your wages to repay the debt.
Charging Order – The debt may be secured against your property, which they could seize if too many repayments are missed.
How CCJ Affects Credit Rating
If you paid off your County Court Judgement within a month, it won’t appear on your credit file. Although it must be noted, any defaults that led to your CCJ will still be visible on your credit report. It will be recorded on your Credit Profile if the it’s recorded on the register.
They serve as an indicator of poor financial behaviour. This can make it hard to get credit as lenders may look at past performance when assessing future credit or loan applications.
How long will a CCJ Stay on My Credit File?
Records are kept on your Credit Profile for 6 years. This will be the case even if you pay it off during this time.
Will a CCJ affect a mortgage application?
Many mortgage lenders will reject your mortgage application outright if you have a CCJ. As a result, those who have had them may find it extremely difficult to find a mortgage.
Can I Remove a CCJ from My Credit Report?
You can potentially contact one of the main Credit Reference Agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) to remove your CCJ. You must prove:
- Somebody else was responsible for the debt i.e. an insurance company
- You queried it and it was cancelled by the court
- You paid the full amount within one calendar month of the CCJ being displayed
- It’s been six years since it was issued
How can I avoid Avoid CCJs?
Make repayments on money owed in full on time, every month. This will improve your credit score and show creditors you are financially responsible. You should check your credit score regularly. If you do run into financial difficulty it is important to get advice.
What does it mean to have a judgement set-aside?
This means that the judgement proceedings will go back to the claim stage, and enforcement action will be cancelled. You will have another chance to reply to the claim form and either make an offer of payment or put in a defence.
If the County Court Judgement is set aside, this means that the judgement process will go back the claims stage, and any enforcement action will be cancelled
How can I check if I have a CCJ?
If you have had one issued in your name, it will appear on your Credit Report which can be accessed through the main credit reference agencies. If you have a CCJ, your Credit Report will show you: –
- The date it was issued against your name
- The unique court reference number
- The full amount of money owed
- The status of the CCJ, whether it is active or satisfied
- If the County Court Judgment was disputed by you
- When it will be removed from your Credit File
- Which Credit Reference Agencies are referencing it
Another option is to check the Registry Trust for County Court Judgements in your name, or somebody else.
If you have county court action against you can be daunting and a worrying time. Failing to repay your outstanding debts can lead to attachment of earnings or even bailiff action to recover the debt owed.
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