County court judgments (CCJs)

If a creditor takes you to court and obtains judgment in their favour, this is known as a County Court Judgment or CCJ. This can happen when you ignore or do not respond to the claim, when you admit the claim, or when you defend it and lose. CCJs can affect certain aspects of your life, but they can also be dealt with.
What is a CCJ?

Scales and gavel

See news articleCreditors may decide to take you to court to recover the money they think you owe them. Their aim is to obtain judgment in their favour so they can enforce the debt. Enforcing means making you pay it back.

A creditor can obtain a CCJ in their favour if:

  • You don’t acknowledge the claim within 14 days of receiving it. This can happen because:
    • You didn’t receive the court papers, for example, because you have not updated your creditors with your new address;
    • You don’t open the post
    • You spend long periods away from home
    • The claim got lost in the post
    • You neglected/forgot to acknowledge service of the claim.
  • You failed to submit a defence within the allowed time frame;
  • You defended the claim and lost;
  • You admitted all or part of the claim, and were unable to pay in full within 28 days.
If you receive a claim and do not acknowledge it within 14 days, or acknowledge it but fail to submit a defence within 28 days, the creditor can request judgment in default against you. There is no need for a hearing or to supply documents to substantiate the claim.
If you got a CCJ in default, you may be able to have the judgment set aside provided some conditions are met. See set aside for more information.
Have you got a CCJ?

If a creditor obtained default judgment against you, you may not even be aware that you have a CCJ. Many people only find out when they receive notification that the creditor is attempting to enforce the judgment, or when looking at their credit file.

To find out whether you have a CCJ, you need to search the public record. You can do that online on the Trust Online website. The fee for a search of the England & Wales register is £4 per section. Two searches cost £8, three or more cost £10.
Unlike credit records held by the credit reference agencies, which can only be accessed by certain authorised parties, CCJs are a matter of public record, meaning anyone can search for CCJs. CCJs stay on record for 6 years.
If a CCJ is paid in full within 28 days of being obtained, it will be wiped off the record, as if you never had it. Any default associated with the debt will remain on your credit file though.
The CCJ records

Sample ReportInformation contained on the CCJ records

To view the sort of information contained on the records, Trustonline has an example search result here: www.trustonline.org.uk/images/uploads/RTL_REPORT_SAMPLE.pdf

Most CCJs will appear on the register but there are some that don’t. To be capable of being registered the judgment must either have been issued in default (i.e a judgment 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
For each entry

  • The name and address of the defendant,
  • The court and case number,
  • The date and amount of the judgment
  • Satisfaction details once RTL has been notified by the court.

To improve data accuracy, the regulations require judgments 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 only shows the original amount of the judgment and cannot be updated when part-payments are made.

Source: Trustonline.

What impact does a CCJ have?

Debts subject to judgment (CCJs) differ from debts where judgment has not been obtained in many ways:

Judgment

  1. CCJ records are public; this means anyone can pay to search the records and find out if you have any CCJs;
  2. CCJs drop off the record after 6 years but they do not go statute barred even if no payments have been made;
  3. The judgment supersedes any credit agreement, which means you no longer have the right to request a copy of your agreement, challenge its terms or the lack of a proper agreement (with the possible exception of unfair relationships arguments);
  4. Once you have a CCJ, repayments have to be arranged officially through the court rather than just informally;
  5. If you are no longer able to repay the agreed amount, you need to apply to the court for a variation order and may need to attend a hearing;
  6. You are obliged to provide full details of your income and expenditure to the court, which is optional when dealing with non-judgment creditors;
  7. Omissions or false statements may constitute contempt of court which is a criminal offence;
  8. You can be made to appear in court for an oral examinaion and a warrant for your arrest can be issued if you refuse to attend;
  9. The creditor can apply to the court to enforce the judgment by various means. See enforcement.
  10. A CCJ can affect your current and/or future employment more than a credit default. Not all employers are able to conduct credit checks but anyone can check for CCJs.
If you can no longer afford the repayments agreed with the court, you need to apply for a variation.
If you do not apply to vary the terms of the order and you fail to make the payments ordered, the creditor can take further action to enforce the judgment.
Unlike unsecured debts not subject to judgment, CCJs do not go statute barred after six years.