This page explains the process of county court judgments for unpaid debt. Check what to do if you get a CCJ and how to get it set aside or change the amount you pay.
CCJ ADVICE: Using court action to recover unpaid money can result in a county court judgement.
You get a CCJ for not responding to someone's claim that you owe a debt.
County court judgments arrive by post and inform you of:
Note: If you receive a county court judgment it means a court reached a formal decision that you owe the debt. You then have 14 days to respond to a court claim for money.
As a rule, the court keeps county court judgments for debt for a period of six (6) years. Getting credit or opening a bank account can be difficult with a CCJ attached to your name. The only way to avoid this issue is by paying the full amount within one month.
You can ask the court to 'set aside' the judgment if you dispute the debt. In simple terms, that means you are asking the judge to cancel the charge because you do not owe the money. But, you should arrange to pay an amount that you can afford - if you do owe the money.
Warning: You should never ignore a court judgment. The court can force you back into court and demand a payment from you.
Note: The rules for CCJs differ in Scotland. Extra guidance is available from the insolvency service called the 'Accountant in Bankruptcy'.
What if you do not owe the money that someone claims you do? In this case you can ask the courts to cancel or 'set aside' a county court judgment or a high court judgment.
Certain rules apply to stopping a CCJ process. You must not have received or responded to the original court claim stating that you owe the money.
Download the 'Application notice N244' from HMCTS court and tribunal form finder. You will need to fill in form N244 to get a judgment set aside. Send it to the same court dealing with the case. There may be some small claims fees to pay.
Note: You will need to attend a private hearing as part of the process. The court needs to hear your explanation of why you do not owe the debt. They will reject your application if you fail to attend the hearing. That also means you still need to pay the amount stated in the judgment.
If you owe the debt to a person or a business you will have to pay them the money. In some cases you can pay their solicitor instead. The judgment form has the name and address of the person you should pay. But, do not make the payment to the court.
Always get a receipt so you can prove you paid off the debt. You can either make a bank transfer or you can send a cheque or postal order by mail. You should never send cash through the post. Make regular payments, and in good time, if you pay by installments. It is best to keep a record of all transactions.
There are several ways to pay a court judgment in installments. Often, the person or the organisation you owe the money will inform you of the method they prefer. But, in most cases setting up a standing order is easier. The money would get transferred 'directly' from your bank account.
Note: Making late payments means you can get taken back to court and made to pay extra costs.
What if you want to change how much you pay per week or per month? You can make a request to change the payment frequency using the 'application form N245'.
The form asks for details of your income and your spending. You will need to give a realistic amount of what you can afford to pay. In some cases there are court fees for this request. The court decides the amount you must pay if your offer gets rejected.
The creditor might apply to the court for a warrant to use bailiffs for debt collection. A warrant would give a bailiff the right to make a home visit or turn up at your business location. As a rule, bailiffs must give you 7 days' notice which allows you to make a payment before their visit.
Filling in the N245 application form might stop a visit by the bailiff. You would need to state how and when you can repay the money (e.g. making weekly or monthly payments). The warrant gets stopped if they accept your offer and you keep up with the payment frequency.
What if you have more than one judgment made against you? In this case you can sometimes arrange to pay all the debts to the court. As a rule, it needs to be one single weekly or one monthly payment. But, it stops people taking court action against you to recoup their money (e.g. using bailiffs).
Note: Your total debts must be under £5,000 to set up this process. Use Form N92 which is the 'application for an administration order'. Always contact the court if you are unable to maintain regular payments.
County court judgments (CCJs) and high court judgment stay on the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines for six (6) years. Loan companies and banking institutions can access the information stored on the register. They use it to decide whether your credit rating is good before they loan you money.
There is a specific process for removing a judgment from the county court judgements register. You must pay the full amount owed to your creditors within one (1) month to get it removed.
The record of the judgment gets marked as 'satisfied' in the register if you settle the debt after one month. The judgment remains on the register for six (6) years. But, if anyone searches for your details on the register they will see that you paid off the debt.
You should contact the court to inform them once you have paid. They will need to see a proof of payment and the service costs around £15.
You can make a search to see if there are any judgments recorded against your name and address. Each county court judgements search carried out on the 'Trust Online register of judgments' costs £4 per section.
For example the fee for a search in England and Wales is £4. An extra search in Scotland (e.g. 2 searches) would cost £8. Multiple searches of three or more sections costs a total of £10.
You can contact Trust Online if information stored about you on the county court judgements register is incorrect. They will then check the registered details with the appropriate court.
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County Court Judgement Process for Unpaid Debt in the United Kingdom