Responding to a claim

A claim must be acknowledged within 14 days of service. The date of service is calculated by adding five days to the date on the claim. Most claims can be acknowledged online on the MCOL (Money Claim Online) website website, using the password provided on the form. If you do not acknowledge the claim, the claimant can apply for default judgment against you and you will have a CCJ.




Receiving a claim
Your options

When you receive a claim, you have the following options:

Ignore it
If you do nothing, the claimant can obtain default judgment and you will end up with a CCJ, even if the debt could have been successfully defended.

  • A claim should never be ignored.
  • If you do not respond to the claim within 14 days, the claimant can request default judgment.
Pay it in full
If you agree with the amount claimed and are able to make payment in full, you should contact the claimant within 14 days to arrange payment.

  • You will not get a CCJ if you pay within 14 days.
Admit it in full
If you agree with the claim but are unable to pay in full, you can ask for more time to pay or to pay in installments. See admissions.

  • A full admission allows the claimant to request judgment for the full amount.
Admit it in part
If you admit the debt but disagree with the amount claimed, you can admit the claim in part. See admissions.

  • A part admission allows the claimant to request judgment for the amount admitted.
Defend in full

If you don’t think you are liable for the debt or the claimant has not followed the appropriate process, complied with their obligations, etc, you can defend the claim in full. See defending a claim.

  • If you are successful, you will not get a CCJ.
  • If you are unsuccessful, you may end up with a CCJ unless you settle before the trial.
  • You have 14 days to submit your defence unless you acknowledge service to start with, which gives you an extra 14 days.
Counter-claim
If you think the claimant owes you money that should be offset from their claim, you can counter-claim at the time of submitting your defence.

  • You will have to pay a fee to file a counter-claim.
  • You have 14 days to submit your defence and counter-claim unless you acknowledge service to start with, which gives you an extra 14 days.
It is often a good idea to acknowledge service and say that you intend to defend the whole claim upon receipt of the form. You can always make arrangements to settle later on if you don’t have a viable defence. See Settlement and ADR. Alternatively, you can enter into a Tomlin order to avoid a CCJ on record. See Consent and Tomlin orders.
Because the claim form is deemed to be served five days after the date of issue, you have five extra days allowed for service, from the date printed on the claim form, in addition to the 14 days to acknowledge or defend and a further 14 days to submit a defence if you acknowledge. This gives you a total of 33 days (14+14+5 extra for service).

5.7 The claim form will be deemed to be served on the fifth day after the claim was issued irrespective of whether that day is a business day or not. ‘Business day’ has the same meaning as in rule 6.2(b).

Diagram
Acknowledging service

Online acknowledgment

If you acknowledge the claim and state your intention to defend it in full, you will have a total of 28 days from date of service to submit a defence. Even if you don’t think can defend, you can acknowledge to buy some time, to request information and documents from the claimant. You can still negotiate with the claimant and make an offer of repayment if you do not think you will be able to defend successfully.

To be able to respond online, you need to register on the MCOL (Money Claim Online) website.

The MCOL process
  1. Click on Register as an Individual.
  2. Fill in the online form to register for a Government Gateway account. When you’re done, click Submit.
  3. Make a note of your Government Gateway user ID. You may want to print and/or screen print the page. You will also receive your ID in the post in the next seven days.
  4. Click on Return to Money Claim online.
  5. Print, screen print or write down your MCOL Customer Number. Click Continue.
  6. Once your have logged in, you will be presented with two boxes, one to begin a claim and one to respond to a claim. Enter your claim number and password as printed on the claim form.
  7. Fill in your details under acknowledgment of service.
  8. When you come to the box labelled Intention, state you intend to defend all of the claim. You can always make arrangements to settle later on if appropriate.
You may already have a Government Gateway account, for example, if you’ve registered for self-assessment. In that case you can try to use those details.
Do not submit a defence at this stage, acknowledging the claim will give you an extra 14 days to do so.
Do not tick the box that says “I intend to contest jurisdiction” unless you are not in England or Wales. Jurisdiction does no refer to the specific geographical location of the court.
The Northampton Court is just the processing centre for money claims submitted electronically. If the case progresses to the point where a hearing is required, the claim will be transferred to your local court. You will not have to travel to Northampton.

Step-by-step guide

Go to the MCOL home page. Navigate to the box labelled Register as an Individual. Click on Register.

MCOL Home

Use your Government Gateway details to enrol with MCOL as below. Under the Address heading, start by filling in your postcode in the box at the bottom and click Lookup. You should get a list of house numbers, pick the one where you live and the rest of the address fields should be filled in for you. Click on Enrol.

MCOL Enrol

Your next screen should be the confirmation of your enrolment and your details including your customer number. You should print or screen print this page for future reference. Once you’ve done that, click Continue.

MCOL Confirmation

Now you have registered, you can log in using your credentials. To respond to a claim, go to the bottom right hand side box headed Respond to a claim made against you and enter your claim number and password. These details should be printed on your claim form. The password will be the one on the claim rather than your general MCOL password.

MCOL Logged in

Technical difficulties

Acknowledgment FormIf your claim hasn’t got a password or you are unable to log in using your claim number and password combination, try ringing the Northampton bulk centre helpdesk. If you have no luck, you can send a scan of the completed acknowledgment of service form sent as an e-mail attachment to ccbcdefendants@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk with the claim number.

In the subject heading you should write: Claim No.: xxxxxx – Claimant’s Name -v- Your Name – Acknowledgment of Service. You will get a confirmation e-mail almost immediately.

You can also return the acknowledgment of service form by post, however, you should make sure to allow enough time for it to be received by the court to avoid default judgment.

Response pack

The claim form comes with a response pack containing a number of standard forms:

  1. Response packN1 – the claim itself;
  2. N009 – Acknowledgment of service and instructions;
  3. N9A – Admission form;
  4. N9B – Response and Defence/Counter Claim.
  • If you admit the claim in full, complete form N9A.
  • If you admit the claim in part, complete both N9A and N9B forms.
  • If you wish to counter-claim, complete form N9B.
  • If you are ready to defend, complete form N9B.
  • If you need more time to defend, complete form N009.

These forms offer information and guidance with regards to responding to the claim and offer an alternative if you are unable to respond online.

If you choose to use the response pack instead of responding online, make sure you allow enough time for your forms to be received by the court when sending them by post.
If you submit a full or partial admission, the claimant can request judgment against you without further proceedings.
Notification to the claimant

When the court receives the acknowledgment of service the claimant will be sent a form N10 which is a notice that acknowledgment of service has been filed. It will tell the claimant:

  • the date it was received;
  • whether you intend to defend all or part of the claim;
  • the name and address of your solicitor (if you have one acting for you); and
  • any change in the your name and address which is mentioned in the acknowledgment
This means the claimant will not be able to apply for default judgment after 14 + 5 days have elapsed.
Submitting a defence without acknowledging

You can file a defence straight away without the need for the extra 14 days. This may be an option if:

  • You are sure the debt is not yours, for example, because you never had a Mint credit card, a Shop Direct catalogue account or a T-Mobile contract. This is known as a bare denial. Get your facts straight before you deny; some companies may have changed names or the debt may have been sold to a debt collector whose name you not recognise;
  • You have already paid the debt. You will need to show proof of payment, such as receipts or bank statements if you paid by debit or credit card; or
  • The debt is statute barred. This happens when there have been no payments or written acknowledgment during the limitation period, normally 6 years in England and Wales (5 in Scotland). See statute barred debt.
As you will be making a statement to the court, it is important to be truthful and accurate in your statements.
It’s always best to acknowledge service and use the extra time to request documents and find out more about the claim.
Paying the claim
If you want to pay the amount claimed, you should ensure payment reaches the claimant within 14 days of you receiving the claim.
Once you pay, you won’t be able to dispute the claim or the amount. Do your research and explore all the options before agreeing to pay.
You can pay in full up to 28 days after a CCJ has been issued and the CCJ will be wiped off the register.

If you admit the claim but are not able to pay in full, you may ask for extra time. Fill in the N9A admission form, providing details about your income and expenditure. You may want to contact the claimant to discuss a payment proposal. Send the N9A form to the address specified on the claim form and keep a copy for yourself. If the claimant accepts your offer to pay in instalments, you have to keep up your payments.

If you make an admission, the claimant can ask for judgment by admission and you will end up with a CCJ on record. See admissions.
If you admit the debt you may want to look at settling it via a Tomlin Order to avoid a CCJ on record. See Consent and Tomlin Orders.
Disputing the amount claimed

If you disagree with the amount claimed, complete both the N9A admission form and the N9B defence and counterclaim form. Specify how much you agree you owe and explain why. You can then offer to pay the amount that you agree to in full, or ask for extra time to pay what you admit. Send both forms to the court so that they receive them within 14 days of the date that you received the particulars of claim.

If you need more time, you can file an Acknowledgment of Service using form N009 or online on the MCOL website. The court will send copies of your completed forms to the claimant asking whether your part admission is accepted and the claim can be settled, or whether they want to carry on with their claim as a defended claim. The claimant must reply to the court within 14 days of receiving your part admission.

A partial admission can result in a CCJ being recorded against you, at least for the amount admitted, unless you are able to pay in full.
Settling the claim

Settlement

The parties can reach an agreement or ‘settlement’ at any point between serving the claim form on the defendant and the case going to court for a final hearing. You can make an offer to settle part, or all, of the claim at any time. This saves time and avoids the stress and expense of going to court. You could get a full refund of the hearing fee if you notify the court in writing, at least seven days before the trial date or start of the trial week, that the case is settled or discontinued. See Settlement and ADR.

If you get a CCJ and are able to pay it in full within 28 days, the CCJ will be wiped off the register, i.e. it will disappear. Any default recorded on your credit file for this account will remain on your file for six years, just without any reference to a CCJ.