What Is A County Court Judgement (CCJ)
A CCJ is a judgment that a county court issues telling you that you have to repay a debt. It is a legal step taken by someone you owe money to as part of their debt collection process. And is often a simple way for creditors that to claim back money from individuals that they are entitled to.
The court will then make the decision whether or not there really is a debt to pay. If they do find that there is an outstanding debt due they will then issue a CCJ which will outline how the debt should then be paid.
How long do you have to respond to a CCJ
If you receive a County Court claim form through the post it is imperative that you complete and return it within 14 days.
The judgement will explain how much you owe, how to pay, your deadline to make the payment and who you will make your payments to.
If you fail to supply all relevant information at this time then the court could decide a repayment schedule that you may not be able to afford and in turn lead to further action and enforcements.
Letter of claim
Before your creditor can instigate the CCJ they must send you all details of the claim made against you including details of the debt.
If you don’t reply to this letter then your creditor can begin court action without you.
It will include a form that you must complete in response to your creditor. You have 30 days in which to reply.
You should complete all details regarding your financial state giving realistic information about how you can repay your debt. If you are seeking advice about repaying your debts then you should also make this information known.
At this stage there is still a chance to organise a mutually beneficial arrangement so that court action can be avoided.
Recognising forms sent by the court
If your debt is regulated by the Consumer Credit Act then your creditor must have already defaulted your initial agreement prior to commencing court action and you should have been notified of this by post.
If you have received forms through the post it is important to check that they are a County Court claim pack. They will include the following:
- N1 Claim Form
- N9 Response Pack
- N9A Admission
- N9B Defence and counterclaim
Each form will have the title printed across the top and the form number in the bottom right corner.
Your forms will show the name of the court you will be held accountable to, your name, your creditors name and account or reference number, and a claim number that is used to identify your case.
Your claim form will show the amount and full details of the debt.
If any of the forms or details are missing you should contact your creditor or the court and have those matters rectified as soon as possible.
Completing forms N9A and N9B
You have 14 days to complete and return forms N9A and N9B to your creditor. If you find you do not have the appropriate time to complete these forms then there are options to apply for an extension using the acknowledgement of service form. Alternately you may often be able to reply online to meet your deadline.
The next stage in the process is that you will be notified of the amount that the court believes you can afford to pay in monthly intervals based on the information you have supplied. If you make your new payments on time and without issue then your creditor will need no reason to contact you again.
If you are a homeowner your creditor can apply for a charging order forcing you to use your home as security against the debt. This is the only action they can take against you in securing repayments.
How long does a CCJ last?
A CCJ will last for six years on your credit report. This will seriously affect your ability to gain credit from other lenders. After six years it will be removed and you can take steps to repair and improve your credit score. There is a lot of advice available regarding the ways you can do this.
As well as being added to your credit report your CCJ will be added to the Registry Trust database of Judgements, Orders and Fines, which hold all details of new CCJs.
Always keep a record of your payments. You will be responsible for directly paying your creditor or their solicitors so ask for a receipt as proof of payment each time you do so.
You can set up a standing order with your bank or building society that will help you maintain your payment plan and also provide proof of payment in case the need is ever required. Alternately send a cheque or postal order via registered post. This is another failsafe way of retaining proof of payment.
Further late payments could result in being taken back to court where additional fines and costs may be incurred.
To change payments you will need the N245 Application form and to disclose all details of your income and spending along with what you feel you can afford to pay. This can also cost an additional £50 court fee.
Failing to make your CCJ repayments
If you struggle to make your repayments because of a change in circumstances, failing to return your claim forms in time, or by being asked to make unsuitable repayments then you can apply to the court to change your payment terms.
Alternately you can apply to have the CCJ cancelled or set aside if you believe that it should not have been carried out in the first place. Reasons could be because you never received your forms or the debt discussed was not yours to repay. You will have to attend a private hearing and it could cost a fee of £255.
Use of bailiffs
Your creditors may choose to use bailiffs to retrieve the debt. They will have to apply for a court order or a warrant giving bailiffs the right to visit your home or workplace to collect money that is owed. You will be given at least 7 days notice that the bailiffs can visit you to collect the debt. To avoid the bailiffs’ visits you must keep up with your allocated repayments.
Additional CCJs or debts
If you have multiple CCJs or debts you can arrange to pay them all together in one place and utilising a single weekly or monthly payment. This will prevent any further action from all creditors and any bailiff visits as long as you keep up with your payments. You can only group your debts together if the total amount is less than £5,000 and will need to complete the N92 Application For An Administration Order form.
What is the CCJ Register?
CCJs in England and Wales are listed on the Register of Judgements, Orders and Fines – otherwise known as the ‘CCJ Register’. This is a public register which contains the details of people who have had County Court Judgements issued against them.
Most CCJs will appear on the register, but there are some that don’t. To be eligible to be registered the judgement must either have been issued in default (i.e. a judgement without trial where no defence was entered) or else defended and payment is by instalment order or where enforcement action is being taken.
What’s on the CCJ Register?
The register contains the following information for each entry:
- The name and address of the defendant
- The court and case number
- The date and amount of the judgement
- Once the case has been resolved, it will be updated to include this info
The regulations require judgements registered against individuals to include, where known, the defendant’s date of birth. A postcode must be provided unless leave of the court is obtained. The register does not hold any information on the claimant. This is only available to the defendant, via the court that issued the judgement.
How long are CCJs recorded?
Unless set aside or cancelled, a judgement remains on the register for a period of six years from its registration date. Judgement registrations are only before six years if they were entered in error, paid before the court action, or paid within one calendar month from the date of judgement.
The courts are required to notify the Registry Trust of any amendments to the register, including when the judgement is satisfied or when a judgement is set aside. Details of judgements are also sent to credit reference agencies. This means that lenders will see them on your credit report when you apply for credit.
Once the CCJ has been paid in full, it is possible to obtain a “certificate of satisfaction”. This will not remove details of the CCJ from the register, but it will prove that is has been paid off.
Who can access the CCJ Register?
The register can be accessed by anyone via the Registry Trust Limited website. This allows you to search the details of other people or check your own record of CCJs. In order to search the register you will have to pay a small fee – each search costs between £4 and £10.
It is worthwhile to search the register to check your own details, either to verify that all information is correct or if you are planning on applying for credit. If the information on the register is wrong, contact Trust Online, who will check the details with the court. Their contact details are:
020 7380 0133