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16/10/2020

How to check if you have a County Court Judgement (CCJ)

16/10/2020

How to check if you have a County Court Judgement (CCJ)

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If you are in debt, there are various techniques the court can use to force you to pay back what you owe. One of these techniques is a County Court Judgement (CCJ). 

This article looks in detail at County Court Judgements; what they are, how long they last, how to find out if you have one against you, and how you might get rid of one if you do. 

What is a County Court Judgement?

A County Court Judgement is a court order that can be deployed by the courts in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. 

The main purpose of a CCJ is as a means of forcing an individual to repay money they owe. If you are in debt and have failed to settle those debts – or the parties you owe money to think you’re unlikely to pay – a CCJ might be taken against you as a way of forcing your hand. 

The CCJ will usually be brought against you by one of your creditors (the people you owe money to), who will send an application to the courts laying out the reasons why they believe the CCJ is necessary.

Which type of debt concerns you?

Credit Card

Personal Loan

Pay Day Loan

Council Tax

Catalogue & Store Cards

Overdrafts

How do you find out what a CCJ is for?

A CCJ is usually delivered through the post. The letter should outline the fact that you have a CCJ against you, how you can respond to the CCJ, and what action the court can take against you if you fail to respond to the CCJ. 

If you begin to suspect you have a CCJ against, but don’t know for sure, you can find out via the public Register of Judgements, Orders and Fines. 

If you do have a CCJ against you, the register will tell you:

  • The date of the judgement against you
  • The amount of money you owe 
  • The name of the court who issued the judgement against you

Because the register won’t list the name of the creditor who has taken the CCJ against you, you may have to follow up with the court listed and request details of the creditor involved in order to determine what exactly the CCJ is for. 

How long will a CCJ last?

How long a CCJ lasts depends on how quickly you deal with it. When you first receive the CCJ in the post, you will be given the option to:

  • Pay back the full amount immediately 
  • Pay later, or in installments
  • Dispute the claim (You will need to have a strong case that the claim is wrong)
  • Claim against the creditor (If you think that the creditor actually owes you money)

If you choose to pay back the full amount within one calendar month, the CCJ won’t be recorded on the Register of Judgements, Orders and Fines. If you don’t pay within a month, it will be recorded on the register – and whatever’s recorded on the register will then be reflected in your credit report. 

A CCJ will stay on your credit report for six years, no matter whether you pay it off in that period or not. Because a CCJ demonstrates an inability to pay back what you owe, it will negatively affect your credit score, which in turn will make it harder for you to get credit in future. 

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Who can see your CCJs?

The Register of Judgements, Orders and Fines is a public register, so in theory anyone who requests access will be able to see the details of your CCJ for a small fee. The information they will be able to view includes:

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • The case number
  • The court who issued the CCJ against you
  • The amount of money you owe

In reality, the only people likely to see your CCJ are lenders (when you apply for credit), letting agencies (if you are looking to rent a home), or certain employers – particularly if they are involved in financial services. 

It’s important to remember that a CCJ will have a negative impact on your credit rating, so actions like getting a loan, applying for a credit card, or even opening a bank account will become more difficult. 

How to find CCJs on your credit file

The easiest and quickest way to find any CCJs that may have been taken against you is by requesting a copy of your credit report from any of the three main credit agencies: Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion

Checking your credit report will give you an overview of all of your debts, balances, any creditors you owe money to, and any CCJs that may have been taken against you. 

How to check for CCJs online

As an alternative to requesting your credit report from one of the credit reference agencies, you can also check the Registry Trust online for information on CCJs related to yourself, someone else, or a business. This information includes:

  • Names
  • Addresses
  • Court reference numbers
  • The date of the judgement
  • Whether the CCJ is marked as ‘satisfied’

There is a cost attached to searching through the Registry Trust – you’ll be charged £4 for every search you conduct, however there are no free ways to find information on CCJs.

Can I get a CCJ without knowing?

Unfortunately, there are instances where rogue creditors and bad actors will seek to issue claims against you in the knowledge that you will likely be completely unaware of them – i.e. issuing a claim to your previous address.

In circumstances like these, the court can issue a CCJ against you by default – you can’t respond to a claim you didn’t know you received, so they might conclude you’re willfully ignoring your CCJ. For many people, the first time they realise they have a CCJ against them is when they apply for credit and are suddenly rejected. 

While there are many cases of legal firms successfully defending clients who have had CCJs taken out against them without their knowledge, the best way to defend against this is to regularly check your credit report for any claims that may be outstanding. 

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Can I remove a CCJ?

If you’re looking to remove a CCJ from your file, the chances are you’re taking that action because you’re wary of the negative effect a CCJ can have on your credit rating, and thus your ability to borrow in the future. 

While it’s very rare that a CCJ will be removed from your credit file before the six year period has elapsed, there are certain actions you can take against a County Court Judgement. These include:

  • Paying the CCJ in full within a month

          Ensures the CCJ will not be reflected in your credit report.

  • Paying the CCJ in full after 30 days

          Your CCJ will be marked as ‘satisfied’, meaning you’re viewed more favourably by creditors.

  • Setting aside the judgement

          You can take court action against the CCJ, but would have to be certain the action taken against you was incorrect or unfair.

  • Waiting six years

           Not so much an ‘action’, but your CCJ is guaranteed to be removed from your file once six years has elapsed.

To find out more about removing CCJs from your credit report, take a look at our blog on the subject