How to deal with a county court judgment (CCJ)

posted by in Bailiffs, Debt Law

Letter with bad news

Don’t panic if you receive CCJ forms

Now that we’ve all settled back into our work routines and Christmas and New Year is a distant memory, our thoughts turn to boring but necessary duties such as maintaining our finances.

Now that the break is well and truly over, our phone lines are getting busier as people realise how much was spent over Christmas and how long there is still left before payday.

And we’re not the only ones that are busy. Northampton County Court, England’s bulk processing centre for County Court judgments (CCJs), shut for ten days over Christmas, which added to the postal delays meant that a lot of people will only just receiving these types of forms now.

If you’ve received a CCJ, you need to read about the process below, and then contact us or use our online debt counselling service Debt Remedy.

The CCJ process

With this in mind here’s a quick guide on what you should do if you receive county court paperwork, to help you.

  1. The first thing to make sure is that the paperwork you’ve received is actually from the court and not just a threat of action. Letters from debt collectors can be carefully worded and made to look like they are taking court action, when in reality they’re just trying to scare you into making extra payments to them.
  1. Before you receive any court paperwork the original creditor must have issued a default notice. This is a formal letter which tells you how much you need to pay to bring the account back up to date. You should be given at least 14 days to pay it before the account is defaulted (bringing the agreement to an end). If you pay the full amount within this time period, no further action will be taken.
  1. After the default is issued the debt is usually passed on to a debt collection agency. This isn’t always the case and a creditor can apply for a CCJ as long as they have issued a default notice.
  1. If you receive court forms coloured pale blue with a court crest on the top, your creditor has applied for a CCJ. You will receive these forms:
  • N1 (amount owed, creditor and which court is dealing with it)
  • N9A (admission form)
  • N9B (defence form)
  1. If you admit liability for the debt, you will need to complete the N1 and N9A and return them within 16 days. It’s a good idea to send it recorded delivery to make sure it arrives. It’s important that you complete all of the sections fully and make an offer of payment based on your income and expenditure. We can help you to do this.
  1. You only need the N9B if you dispute that you owe the debt. If this is the case you would also need to get detailed advice from us.
  1. The CCJ is registered once you receive a letter titled ‘Judgement for Claimant’ and this will be recorded on your credit file for 6 years. It will specify a monthly amount that you have to pay. If they aren’t happy with the offer of payment or if you don’t respond in time they can ask for the full amount immediately (called “judgement forthwith”).
  1. If they have specified a monthly amount and you maintain this no further action should be taken.
  1. If you don’t maintain the payments or they ask for a judgement forthwith which you can’t pay, the creditor can ask the courts to take further enforcement action such as bailiffs, an attachment of earnings order or a charging order.
  1. If your circumstances change further down the line, it is possible to vary the judgement by completing an N245 form with a more affordable offer of payment.
  1. It may be possible to avoid a CCJ if it would seriously affect your employment. You would need to apply for a Tomlin Order (we can advise you further on this).

Above all, it’s vital to remember that you should always act quickly to respond to any county court paperwork as you’re given a limited amount of time to deal with them.

No matter what time of year it is, don’t panic and get in touch with us straight away so we can support you throughout the whole process.

You can read more about CCJs, how to fill out CCJ forms and what to do if you can’t pay a CCJ on our website.

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Pavan Gata-Aura is a qualified debt advisor with 6 years of experience. She enjoys spending time with her two children, fundraising for charities, has spent time volunteering in Africa and takes part in organised races.

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Tags Bailiffs Debt Law
  • Lynne Burnell

    Hi Pavan
    Have received a CCJ after standing as a guarantor for someone who defaulted on the payments. When I signed I had a good job. I have since retired on ill health and cannot make the payments. All this was explained to the court in the blue papers they sent and which I returned in plenty of time. The court said they didn’t receive them until a month later! I have since filed a N245 offering what I can but it isn’t much. What happens if this is refused? I don’t want a charge put on the house.

    • moneyaware

      Hi Lynne,

      Thanks for posting. I’m sorry to hear about this situation.

      We’ve got a section on our website about what to do if you can’t afford to pay a CCJ:

      https://www.stepchange.org/debt-info/ccj/cant-pay-a-ccj.aspx

      If you’ve returned the N245 and have included a breakdown on your budget, the judge working on the case will review the information you’ve provided and will make a decision based on what they believe is fair.

      It’s normal to feel worried about further action creditors could take. Having a charging order on your home doesn’t necessarily mean you will lose your house though, you can read more about them here:

      https://www.stepchange.org/debt-info/debt-collection/charging-orders-and-my-home.aspx

      I hope this helps but if you’ve got any more questions please let us know.

      Kind regards,

      Jen

  • Gemma Johns

    hello there – ive had an agreement with restons for well over a year for 2 accounts, one i pay £30 the other £15 per month since i set this agreement with them i have paid religiously and never missed a payment however last week they have issued court docs for the £30 to go for a ccj when i called them they said its because they want to put a charge against my jointly owned house. all the money i have paid off in the last year is now irrelevant cause of the added court costs (more than what ive paid)

    can i dispute this to avoid getting the ccj (and ultimately the charge) i feel this is really unfair as never missed a payment from setting up the agreement and now my bill is higher than originally or do i just have to suck it up and accept it?

    also to add im currently in the process of working with step change – ive done the first part just waiting to speak to debt adviser but what im paying to them at the min is the most i can afford

    • moneyaware

      Hi Gemma,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      I’m sorry to hear about this situation – it must be very frustrating.

      If you’re paying less towards a debt than you originally agreed
      to, your creditor can apply for a CCJ. If a CCJ is obtained, then they can apply for a charging order against your home.

      It’s important to note that a charging order doesn’t necessarily
      mean that you’ll lose your home.

      You can read more about charging orders on our website:

      https://www.stepchange.org/debt-info/debt-collection/charging-orders-and-my-home.aspx

      If you owe the money the creditor is asking for, it’s unlikely
      you’ll be able to dispute the CCJ.

      You can read more about dealing with a CCJ here:

      https://www.stepchange.org/debt-info/ccj/dealing-with-a-ccj.aspx

      Kind regards,

      Jen