What is a County Court Judgement?
CCJ stands for ‘County Court Judgement’. It is an order made by the court against someone who owes money (defendant) to another person or company (claimant). The judgment is entered on the ‘Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines’.
Organisations such as banks, building societies and credit companies use the information on the Register when someone applies for credit such as a loan or overdraft. It helps them decide whether or not that person would be able to pay the debt back to the company.
How does the person I owe money to obtain a CCJ against me?
Firstly, in order to obtain a judgment, you must owe the person or company money. Generally the collection process will start with creditors sending reminders to pay and if these are ignored the debt is often referred to a debt collection business. Some creditors have in-house collection departments who will chase you for payment. Generally they will give you a time limit to pay the debt and following which they will issue a Notice of Default (NOD) which will stay on your credit record for 6 years from the date of issue. This will affect your credit rating.
If during this process you agree to a payment plan which is acceptable to the creditor, they are likely to cease further collection action as long as you stick to the agreed plan. If you do this early enough you could avoid getting a default notice.
If for whatever reason you don’t communicate with the creditor, they will step up their collection efforts. This could include referral to a specialist debt collection business who will use e-mail, phone and letters to contact you and remind you to pay.
What should I look out for when being issued with a CCJ?
The process begins with a claim form being sent to you. This form will have been stamped by the court and is usually blue in colour (but this can vary from each court).
You will also get a response pack that will include the following forms:
Defence and Counterclaim Form (N9B) – you should complete this if you disagree with the claim.
Admission Form (N9A) – if you complete this form, you are admitting to owing the full amount or amount you specify on the claim.
Acknowledgement of Service – this form is to be used if you wish to defend the claim and require time to put together your defence.
On the Claim Form there will be specific details about the case explaining what the creditor says you owe to them, the payment deadline and the details of which you need to pay.
There is a time limit in which you will need to reply to the Claim Form. This is 14 days from the date of issue.
If you get one of these letters or notices you should try to make every effort to reach an agreement with your creditor to pay back what you owe.
At The Debt Advisor, we are able to help you negotiate with your creditors if you are in debt and are struggling to maintain your contractual payments.
Once issued with a CCJ, what are my options?
When you receive your Claim Form you need to respond within the time period given. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the claim or miss the deadline. If you do this, the company claiming against you can request a default judgment. If the default judgment is granted, the courts will set a monthly repayment, or you may be ordered to pay the money in full at once.
Pay the amount you owe within 14 days of the judgment (plus any interest and court fees shown). If you do, you don’t need to send the forms back. There won’t be a court hearing and you will not have a CCJ recorded against you.
Ask to pay the amount later or in instalments. If you do decide to offer this, you will need to complete the N9A form and set out how you would like to pay. A CCJ will still be issued.
Dispute the amount owed. If you think that you owe less than claimed, you need to send the forms back explaining why. You should pay what you think you owe straight away or alternatively ask for time to pay. The court will decide whether you or the creditor is right. If the court decides that the creditor is right, they will issue a CCJ against you.
Dispute the claim. If you don’t think you owe anything, return the Defence Form that is sent to you within the Claim Form pack to the court explaining why you are disputing the claim.
Claim against the creditor. If you think you are owed money instead (i.e. if an electrician sues you for non-payment, but you think he owes you money for breaching the contract) you’ll need to fill out the Counterclaim form included within the Claim Form pack.
How do I pay my CCJ?
The judgment form will indicate how you should repay your debt. It’s important to make sure you have proof of your payment. So you should keep a record of your payments – and make sure that you repay what you owe within the deadline.
What happens if I can't pay the CCJ?
If you can’t afford to make the payments ordered by the Court you can obtain a form from any County Court or online and make an Application to Vary an Order (N245). This allows you to tell the court how much you can reasonably afford to pay back to your creditor every month once you have taken into account every day living expenditure (i.e. bills and food). If the creditor doesn’t agree to the amount you have stated, then the court will decide how much you’ll repay.
What happens if I don't make the correct payments on time?
If you don’t make the correct payments on time, then the creditor can ask the court to enforce payment using one of the following methods:
A Warrant of Execution
This gives a county court enforcement agent the power to visit your home or business to collect the money you owe, or see whether you have any goods to the value of the money which you owe.
If your creditor has asked for a Warrant of Execution, you will usually be sent a letter explaining that if you pay the amount of the warrant to the court within seven days, the enforcement agent will not come to your home or business.
A Charging Order
This is court order placing a charge on your property, such as a house or piece of land. The charge will be for the amount owed to the creditor.
A charge on a property usually means that if the property is sold, the charge has to be paid first before any of the proceeds of the sale can be given to you. However, this charge DOES NOT force you to sell your property.
If you are struggling to make your contractual payments on time and would like to seek advice, please call us on 0800 0851 825 and one of our advisors will be happy to discuss the options with you.
How do I find out if I have a CCJ registered against me?
You can search the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines by post or in person. You can also make a request by email. There is a fee of £4.00.
You can also apply for a copy of the information held by the credit reference agency that your lender used when you applied for credit. This costs £2. Some credit reference agencies offer a superior standard of report, as well as the basic version. This might give additional information or a faster response time, but will cost more. However, if you ask them, the credit reference agency must still provide all the information that they hold about you for the basic fee of £2.
Registry of Judgments, Orders and Fines
Tel: 020 7380 0133
How does a CCJ affect my credit rating?
If you apply for credit, it may be refused and you won’t always know why. One of the reasons could be that a county court judgment (CCJ) has been made against you.
As soon as a CCJ is made, it is usually entered in the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines.
When a creditor is deciding whether to lend you money, they will usually check on your financial situation with a credit reference agency. The credit reference agency will hold details of your CCJ, taken from the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines. This may be the reason why credit was refused.
If you have been issued with a CCJ form or have a CCJ that you can’t afford to repay, please call us at The Debt Advisor on 0800 0851 824 or complete our quick contact form and one of our advisors will call you back. If you are self employed and struggling, our team at The Business Debt Advisor will help provide advice on your options. Please call them on 0800 781 0990.
All debt solutions should be very carefully considered. Fees will be charged if a solution is taken in order for us to set up your plan and maintain it – all fees will be outlined during your consultation. For further information on fees, please see the FAQ section of the different solutions available. Retained payment may place you further into arrears. The Debt Advisor complies with the Consumer Credit Act and you have the right to a cooling off period of 14 days. It is likely that your ability to obtain further credit in the short term will be affected and this may also be the case over the medium to long term. Calls to our free phone number from mobile phones and other networks may be charged.
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