The Answer To Your Cash Needs
What is a CCJ?
County Court judgments (CCJs) are legal decisions handed down by the County Court. Judgments for monetary sums are entered on the statutory Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines, which is checked by credit reference agencies to assess the credit-worthiness of individuals.
An alleged debtor is sent postal notification of an impending County Court case, and has fourteen days to respond, by paying the money, admitting owing a smaller sum, denying owing it, or going to a court hearing. If there is no response judgement will be granted against the debtor.
If the debtor does not make payment in response to a CCJ, the creditor may apply for a charging order, which would secure the debt on a property. Creditors can also apply for an attachment of earnings which would oblige the debtor’s employer to deduct monies from their salary and send them to the court. A third-party debt order would oblige a third party who holds money belonging to the debtor (for example a bank) to pay the debt. It is also possible to have the court appoint a County Court bailiff to collect the debt. A bailiff is an official of the court who has some powers to seize goods and sell them at auction to settle a debt.
Why Might You Receive One?
You may get a county court judgment (CCJ) or high court judgment if someone takes court action against you (saying you owe them money) and you do not respond.
You must respond to the court claim by the date on the email or letter you receive.
If you get a judgment, this means that the court has formally decided that you owe the money. The judgment 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
Records of judgments are kept for 6 years unless you pay the full amount within a month – this can make it hard to get credit.
If you do not owe the money, you can ask the court to cancel, or ‘set aside’, the judgment.
If you do owe the money, you should arrange to pay what you can afford.
You must respond to the court claim by the date on the email or letter you receive. If you get a judgment do not ignore it – you could be taken back to court and forced to pay.
How will a CCJ affect my credit profile?
If your CCJ isn’t recorded on the Register (e.g. because you paid it off immediately) it won’t appear on your credit profile – although any defaults that may have led to your CCJ will be visible. If your CCJ is recorded on the Register, it will be added to your credit profile. You can see what’s on your profile by checking your Experian Credit Report.
How long does a CCJ stay on your credit file?
A CCJ will stay on your credit profile for six years, even if you pay it off during this time. Your credit information is checked by lenders when you apply for credit, and a CCJ can negatively affect your ability to get a loan, credit card or even a bank account. Employers and letting agents may also view your credit information – and see your CCJ – before they hire you or let you rent property.
If you want to get an idea of how a CCJ is affecting your ability to get credit, check your Experian Credit Score. This is a number between 0-999 that reflects your credit information. The higher it is, the better your chances of being approved for credit.
Court Judgments for Debt in Scotland
The law is different in Scotland – read guidance from the Accountant in Bankruptcy (Scotland’s insolvency service).