CCJs - What You Need To Know

This page has details on how long a CCJ will stay on your credit file. It also reviews the CCJ process and looks at getting credit with a CCJ.

What is a CCJ?

A County Court Judgment, commonly referred to as a CCJ, is a court order that is registered against you when you fail to repay money that you owe. It ultimately requires you to pay the debt back in full, and, should the order not be complied with, enforcement action can be taken to recover the money

The process

With a debt regulated by the Consumer Credit Act 1974, the process starts when a creditor sends you a ‘default notice’ which relates to an unpaid or overdue debt. During this stage you can either pay the minimum amount required or clear the whole balance in order to clear any arrears  You normally have up to 14 days to do this. This must be served upon you before a County Court Claim can be brought against you.

With a debt not subject to the Consumer Credit Act 1974, service of a default notice is not required.

In order to comply with Civil Procedure Rules, a Letter before Action should be served upon the debtor, setting out on what basis the claim is made, what the Claimant wants from the Defendant, and if money, how this is calculated.

Once all of the above have been completed, and should the money still remain unpaid, or an agreement to repay reached between both parties, the Claimant (creditor) may make an application to the Court for a County Court Judgment. In turn, the court will produce a Claim Form and serve this on the Defendant (debtor).

Responding to a County Court Claim

  • A claim form will be sent to the Defendant by the Court, known as service, by way of First Class Post in most instances. However, other methods of service are available. These include but are not limited to, Personal and Solicitor Service.

Upon receipt of the Claim Form, the Defendant has 14 days from the date of service in order to respond.

There are 3 different ways in which a response can be provided and these are:

  • Admission – where there is no dispute over the details of the claim and you wish to make an offer in order to repay the debt in affordable instalments.
  • Acknowledgment of Service – where an additional 7 days is required in order to file a defence.
  • Defence – where there is a dispute regarding liability or the basis on which the claim has been brought.

What happens next?

Upon filing an Admission to the claim, the Claimant will consider the offer made and respond through the Courts confirming if the offer of payment made has been accepted. If the Claimant does not accept the offer made, the courts will make a decision based on the information provided on the Admission form.

Should an Acknowledgement of Service be filed, the Defendant would be granted and extra 7 days in which to serve a Defence. If a Defence is not entered within this time frame, judgment will be entered as if no response would have been provided.

If a Defence is entered, the Claimant will consider the points of dispute, and, should they not agree, the Claim would proceed as a Defended claim and may result in trial, where a Judge would reach a verdict in favour of one party.

If no response is made, the court will make an order in favour of the Claimant, in most circumstances, stating the full balance is payable forthwith (within 14 days).

After Judgment has been entered

If a Judgment has been entered and you are in a position to repay the balance stated on the Judgment in full within 30 days, the Judgment will be cancelled and will not show on your credit file.

Should this not be a possibility, and the terms of the Judgment are unaffordable, an application can be made to the court in order to vary the Judgment. Varying a Judgment will allow it to be broken down into monthly instalments that are affordable. This is done by completing an N245 form and serving this at the court with the appropriate fee. Fee exemptions may be applicable for some circumstances if the eligibility criteria are met. However, this is best checked with the court.

If the Judgment, or instalments, are not complied with, the Claimant will be able to enforce the Judgment. There are a number of ways in which this can happen. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Attachment of Earnings order

    This deducts money directly from your wages and pays it to the creditor. Employers are required to co-operate, by law, when such an order is served.

  • Attachment of benefits order

    Similar to an Attachment of Earnings order this deducts money directly from your benefits. The current rate/ cost of deduction is about £3.70 per week. Although this will vary between each council.

  • Charging order

    If your creditor can’t get the money owed through a CCJ they can obtain a Charging Order. This secures the debt against your property and could in extreme cases force you to sell your property.

  • Third party debt order

    Through this a creditor can apply for an order which asks your bank or building society to freeze transactions coming out of your account. Money can then be taken from your account to pay back creditors.

  • Warrant of execution

    This instructs a county court bailiff to visit your property in order to repossess goods for re-sale in order to pay off debts.

  • High Court Writ

    This results in High Court Bailiffs collecting money or repossessing your goods for re-sale. Only Judgments for debts that are over £600 and not subject to the Consumer Credit Act 1974 can be transferred to a High Court Writ.

How long does a CCJ stay on your credit file?

Six years. CCJ details will remain on the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines for this period – and this is used to assess the creditworthiness of potential borrowers by financial providers.

As previously mentioned, if you pay the full costs associated to the CCJ within a month of the judgment date it will be removed from the register. Alternatively if the debt and associated costs are paid in full at a later date it can be marked as satisfied. Satisfied judgments may look better on your credit report than outstanding ones but it may still be viewed negatively by potential lenders.

How to check the CCJ Register, known as the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines

Details of CCJ’s in England and Wales can be found at trustonline.org.uk. Searches cost from £4. You can search for yourself or other individuals known to you.

Removing a judgment from your credit report – set aside

If the judgment is set aside (because of a mistake or other reasons) it can be removed. This doesn’t however stop the process as the creditor could begin the process again as any debts could still be outstanding.

Getting credit with a CCJ

A CCJ will affect your ability to get accepted for credit, as a CCJ on your credit file is a sign that you have had previous credit problems. This means that future creditors may be reluctant to lend you money or may do so at a higher APR.

Many people worry that having a CCJ means they won’t get accepted for credit. Any potential lender or creditor may take into consideration when the CCJ was registered, and other factors, such as how much the CCJ was for and whether it was satisfied or not.

CCJs for a lower amount of debt and/or which have been satisfied can be less of a problem for some lenders. Your overall credit history and outstanding debt levels will also be taken into consideration.

Most lenders now have products that are specifically tailored to people who have experienced problems in the past. These products are designed to help you rebuild your credit rating.  You will typically start off with a low credit limit but if you continue to maintain payments this will be reviewed and may gradually increase.

If you have been issued with a CCJ it is worthwhile checking the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines to ensure that the details are accurate.

Can I get a mortgage with a CCJ – I’ve heard of Bad Credit Mortgages?

Yes. It is still possible to be accepted for a mortgage if you have an outstanding or satisfied CCJ. There are a number of mortgage lenders who offer products to those with a bad credit history that could feature a default, late payments or a CCJ.

Naturally, as you will be deemed as a higher lending risk by the mortgage lender, you should be aware that you are more likely to be paying a higher interest rate compared to customers who don’t have an adverse credit file.

Even though details of a CCJ last for six years on the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines some mortgage lenders may ask if you have ever had a CCJ and take this in to consideration.

If you are looking to remortgage, then you might want to delay this until the CCJ is no longer on your record. This in turn may help you qualify for better mortgage deals and lower monthly payments. Though you should consider any early repayment, exit or redemption fees as part of the overall cost.

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County Court Judgment FAQs

Any unsecured debts which have not been paid by the terms of the original contract/ agreement could be lead to a CCJ.  You could also be issued a CCJ due to non-payment of debt owed to individuals or a business.

There are a number of CCJ disadvantages such as the effect on your credit rating. Any adverse credit history may have an effect on your ability to secure credit in the future. If you do not pay the CCJ then further action can be taken against you, such as the debt being secured against your home or Court bailiffs being sent to seize your possessions.

CCJ stands for County Court Judgment.

Anyone can be issued a CCJ if they have not maintained repayment of a debt at a previously agreed rate.

The amount that you will have to pay will be set by the court.  You will usually have to make this payment to the creditor who is owed the debt or the debt collection agency that is pursuing the claim.

As long as you pay the agreed amounts towards your CCJ, then you should not have to worry about house repossession.  However, if you fail to keep to the agreed repayments your creditor can apply to the court to enforce the Judgment by way of a Charging Order.  This means that the unsecured debt will become secured against your home, and failure to keep up repayments could mean that you risk being issued with an Order for Sale.

The CCJ will appear on your credit file for six years from the date of Judgment.  For a small fee you can carry out a search of the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines.

The CCJ will remain on your credit file for six years but a CCJ alone will not mean that you are refused credit.  Your credit rating may already be affected, as a CCJ means that you have not paid the contractual repayments to your creditor. This will show on your credit file, making it more difficult to get accepted for credit.

CCJs are marked as ‘satisfied’ when the debt is paid off during the six years.  However, potential lenders will still know that you had a CCJ issued against you, meaning that you are seen as more of a lending risk.

Yes. If you do not make payments then your creditor can go back to court to apply for further enforcement action to be taken against you, such as issuing a Charging Order against your home, getting the debt deducted directly from your wages, or bailiff action.

If you cannot afford to make payments to your CCJ then you should apply to Court to see if you can get the payments amount changed.  Ask your local County Court for an ‘Application to Vary an Order’ (N245). Please note that there may be a charge for this service.

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