What is a CCJ?
A CCJ – County Court Judgement – is one of the ways that a creditor can try to get their money back from you. It’s a court order which tells you to pay the money you owe.
Letter of claim
Before a creditor can start a claim against you, they need to send you a ‘letter of claim’. This will provide details of the debt such as the amount you owe, whether interest and charges are being applied, details about the original contract/agreement, and whether there’s a repayment arrangement in place.
The creditor should also send you a statement for the debt, financial statement and a reply form.
If you don’t think you owe the money, this is your chance to tell the creditor, and to explain why. For example, a utility bill from before you moved into the property, or a debt that was included in insolvency proceedings like bankruptcy. If you do owe the debt, or you’re not sure, you might still need to get debt advice and to ask for more information about the debt.
You should also fill in the financial statement to show the creditor what you can afford to pay. Again, you may want to seek debt advice if you’re not sure how to approach this.
You have 30 days to respond to the letter of claim. This is your opportunity to sort out the debt with your creditor so there’s no need for the courts to get involved.
If you don’t respond, the next letter you receive is likely to be a claim form.
You will have 2 weeks to respond to a claim form.
If you don’t think you owe the money or the amount they’re claiming isn’t right, you can dispute it using form N9B, but you will need to provide evidence and possibly attend a hearing. You could also incur more costs if your defence is rejected.
If you owe the money but you can’t afford to pay it all in one go, you can ask to repay the debt in instalments using the N9A form. You’ll need to provide details of your income and outgoings so the creditor can decide if your offer is reasonable. If they don’t agree, the court will make the final decision.
If you don’t send the forms back, or if you miss the deadline, the creditor can ask the court to set the payment at an amount they choose. This is usually payment in full.
Once you have a CCJ
After a CCJ has been granted, it’s important that you pay it as agreed. As long as you keep up the payments, the creditor has limited options for further action they can take. If you’re a homeowner, they may apply to secure the debt against your property (a charging order) but they can’t do anything else.
You can’t afford to pay your CCJ
If your situation has changed and you’re no longer able to meet the repayments to your CCJ, you will need to request a ‘variation’ to your repayments. You’ll have to pay a fee of £14 for a variation, unless you’re on a low income, in which case you may be able to get it for free.
You’ll need to send a form N245 to the court and they will send it to the creditor to see if the creditor agrees. If they don’t, the court will decide on a reasonable payment.
You should maintain the payments – if possible – until the court agrees a new payment.