If a lender has taken you to court for unpaid debts, such as bank loans or credit card debts, these cases are typically dealt with by a Country Court where a County Court Judgement or CCJ may be granted against you.
CCJs are made in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland operates a similar process of collecting money judgements called ‘decrees’. You can check for a decree in the same way on the Register of Judgements, Orders and Fines. You will receive notification of your CCJ by post and it will include how much you owe, how to pay, a deadline for payment, and whom you must pay.
CCJ’s and Your Credit Score
Receiving a CCJ can have serious repercussions if it’s not dealt with and removed from your credit record promptly as it will make it almost impossible to borrow and may even prevent employers from hiring you. Whether you’re applying for a bank loan, credit card, mortgage or business finance, the CCJ is going to severely hamper your ability to enter into an agreement.
That said, there are just three ways to get a CCJ removed or to prevent it being registered in the first instance in spite of the promises made by dubious credit repair agencies. Your credit score and credit report (or credit file) are utilised by any bank, business or moneylender to make a decision on whether or not you are a healthy risk when applying for credit. It could be an application for a bank, building society, or agency loan, a credit card, store or catalogue credit, car loan, mortgage or many other types of personal or business credit. If your credit-worthiness isn’t acceptable due to the information available on your credit report they will then choose to deny your application.
When a CCJ is added to your credit report it shows the sum of money involved, the case and court number and the date it was enforced. What it doesn’t show is any information about the claimant. This information will alert any possible new creditors that you have failed to pay debt in the past and this could very likely stop them from entering an agreement with you or if they do choose to they will likely offer highly elevated rates of interest.
In some cases landlords will access your credit report to check any financial implications that may suggest you will be a poor tenant. If your report shows failure to pay rent, mortgage repayments or utility bills in the past this will affect your ability to secure accommodation. Your report may also be considered by employers and businesses in order to ascertain whether you are financially reputable as a customer, new supplier or employee.
Find out if a CCJ has been made against you
It’s easy to find out if a CCJ has been made against you. You can:
search the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines
get a copy of your credit report
Search the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines
You can search the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines online. You’ll have to pay a small fee. The Register will show any CCJs you have against you.
Get a copy of your credit report
You can get a copy of your credit report from a credit reference agency to see if you have a CCJ against you. You‘ll have to pay a small fee for the report. It’s a good idea to check your credit report regularly to make sure your information is up to date.
Ways to Remove a CCJ from Your Credit Records
If you’ve received a CCJ (County Court Judgment), this could have some serious consequences for you if it’s not removed from your credit record. It can hinder you in obtaining credit, such as a mortgage or even a mobile phone contract. Depending on your line of work, it may even mean that you could lose your job.
There are however 3 ways that you can get the CCJ removed.
1. Pay the CCJ within a month
If you pay the full amount of the CCJ within one month, then it will be removed from your credit file.
The Registry Trust keeps a Register of all CCJ’s. The courts update the Registry Trust every time a CCJ is issued. When the court notifies the Registry Trust that a CCJ has been paid within a month, the CCJ is completely removed from the Register. It’s as though it was never entered in the first place.
Often, the person you’re paying (the claimant) will tell the court that you’ve paid. If they don’t do that, then the court won’t know and so they won’t update the Registry Trust. So, when you pay, you should ask the claimant to confirm that they have actually told the court. Otherwise, the CCJ will remain on the Register.
If the claimant doesn’t tell the court, you can tell the court yourself. You could simply write to the court, let them know that it’s paid and provide evidence of payment.
However, in most cases it’s better to ask for a formal certificate of cancellation. You can do that by completing an application for a certificate of cancellation. You will need to send proof of payment and will have to pay a fee of £15. The court may check with the claimant whether they have in fact received full payment.
Even if you dispute the CCJ, it may still be better to pay it within a month, particularly if it is only for a small amount (such as a parking fine). This is because the consequences of having the CCJ on your credit record could be disastrous. It may be advisable to pay it but let the claimant know that:
- you’re only paying it to get it removed from your credit record and/or
- you intend to take action to claim the money back from them once the CCJ has been removed.
If you wait more than a month before paying it, this won’t remove the CCJ from your credit record. It will however mean that the CCJ is marked as ‘satisfied’, which will make it slightly easier for you to obtain credit. The CCJ will still be on the Register, but credit checks will also show that you paid it, albeit not on time. You will still experience many of the problems associated with having an unpaid CCJ on your credit file but they won’t be so severe.
2. You can apply for the judgment to be set aside
If the CCJ is a “default judgment”. A default judgment is a judgment made when you (the defendant) fails to acknowledge the claim or put in a defence. In these circumstances, judges have discretion to set aside the CCJ i.e. to declare the judgment as unenforceable. If you receive a County Court judgment (CCJ) you don’t agree with, you may be able to apply to cancel it by completing an N244 form and returning it to the court. This is known as ‘setting aside’ a CCJ.
To successfully set aside a judgment, you must make the application promptly and be able to show that you have a real prospect of successfully defending the claim or, that there is some other good reason why you should be allowed to defend the claim. This could be because, for example, the claim form was sent to the wrong address.
The court can also set a judgment made at a hearing that you did not attend, but only if you can prove that you had good reasons for your non-attendance.
If the judgment is set aside, the CCJ will be removed from register and it will be as though it never existed.
You can wait six years for the CCJ to be automatically cleared from the register. Once it has been removed, it will then be too late for a creditor to enforce the judgment.
This may occur if you’ve moved house and creditors haven’t been informed of your change of address. Therefore, it can be a bit of a shock to find a CCJ you knew nothing about on your doormat. In fact, many only discover the fact when they get turned down when applying for new credit or (and this doesn’t often happen) cases when a bailiff comes knocking at the door. If this happens to you, you could set the CCJ aside, but this is only worth it if you dispute the amount the creditor is demanding. If the judgement is correct, but you’re unable to pay it, ‘varying’ a judgment is your best alternative. This means asking the court to set affordable monthly payments.
So, if you are served with an unknown CCJ, firstly, check by whom it was issued by consulting the court forms you receive by post. If there are no forms, call the court to discover who the creditor is. Once you are fully informed you can then verify if the amount is correct and make a decision on your best option
3. Wait six years
From the date of the judgment, the CCJ remains on the register for a period of 6 years. Once the six years have passed, the judgment is automatically removed from your credit record – even if it is not paid.
This may sound appealing, letting the CCJ die out, but do you really want to have a poor credit rating behind you for six years? Consider the consequences, can you afford the risk.
Once your CCJ has been paid, it should appear on your credit report as satisfied. If this does not happen, then get in touch with the relevant credit reference agencies to have them update your report. The CCJ will show future creditors that the debt is settled and you no longer owe money. However, bear in mind that it may still affect your ability to obtain credit.
You can also ask for a Certificate of Satisfaction. You’ll need to apply to the court for this and pay a £14 fee. This allows you to provide evidence if a creditor should start chasing you again for payment, or if another creditor wants to see proof of your finished CCJ before accepting you.
How does a CCJ show on your credit report?
A CCJ will be marked against the credit product it relates to. So, let’s say you have a credit card from a high street bank. You have missed payments on this for four months, each of these missed payments is marked in red on your credit report and numbered with each month you have not paid.
Once the CCJ is issued, there will be a note added to the latest month. Creditors will be able to see this when they review your past history when you make any future applications for credit. When the CCJ is paid and the debt satisfied it will remain listed on your credit report as a note. These can still be viewed by creditors and so it may continue to impact you even when it has been paid.