I have a CCJ – can I avoid bailiffs?

ccj - judgment for claimantIf you get a letter which says “”Judgment for Claimant” at the top, a County Court Judgment (CCJ) has been made against you. If your letter is just threatening to take you to court, read this previous  article about whether it is bluffing. If it says ‘Claim Form’ at the top, then you are being taken to court but don’t yet have a CCJ – in this case you need to respond urgently as described here.

What is a CCJ?

A CCJ is a decision by a judge that you (“the defendant”) should pay someone (“the claimant”) a sum of money, either immediately or by installments.. If you find these terms confusing, an easy way to remember them is:

  • C  = Claimant = Creditor
  • D = Defendant =Debtor.

A CCJ is not a criminal offence, you can’t get sent to prison for not being able to pay this money. However if you ignore a CCJ, your creditor may send bailiffs round to your house or try to get money deducted from your wages. If you take action speedily, these can usually be avoided. What you need to do now depends on whether you owe the money and if you can afford to pay it. This article looks at the most common scenarios using some invented cases.

Mrs Blue – owes the money and can pay it

Mrs Blue had a dispute with a builder over some work and an unpaid bill. He sued her, she defended the claim because she said it should be lower. The judge accepted this so she got a judgment for an amount that she agrees she owes. She can pay it in full.

Next steps Mrs Blue should pay the claimant the money ordered as soon as possible. She should send a cheque to the “Name and Address for Payment” on the form, or phone them to get bank details if she wants to make a transfer from her bank. If this is done within 30 days, the CCJ’s entry in the Register of Judgments, Fines and Defaults will be removed and the CCJ will not damage her credit record.

Mr Green – agrees he owes the money but can’t pay it all at once

Mr Green stopped paying a consolidation loan when his hours were cut. He didn’t reply to the Claim form because he wasn’t sure what to do. He thinks he can afford to pay £70 a month.

Next Steps If Mr Green acts fast – within 14 days of receiving the Order – he can ask for a “redetermination” of the amount he should pay. To do this, he needs to write to the court, state his case number, enclose an income and expenditure statement and ask for a redetermination. There is no charge for doing this and no court form. Sometimes the judge will make a decision on the details provided (that’s why it’s worth including an income and expenditure statement), sometimes a hearing in your local county court will be ordered.

If more than 14 days has passed, Mr Green needs to make an application to the court to pay monthly – this is sometimes called an “application for an Instalment Order” or “varying the CCJ”. To do this he has to complete Form N245 which he can get from his local county court. This will cost £50, but as Mr Green has a low income he can apply for this to be reduced.  National Debtline have a fact sheet that describes how to vary a court order. If Mr Green isn’t sure what amounts to put on the form, eg for housekeeping, or how much he can afford to pay each month, then he should call National Debtline.

Ms Red – has a lot of debts and isn’t sure what she can afford

Ms Red lost her job a year ago and since then hasn’t paid anything to her credit cards debts. She is struggling to live on JSA. Other debt collectors are also threatening CCJs.

Next Steps  Ms Red needs to get good debt advice urgently. She could make an offer of monthly repayment to the CCJ like Mr Green – her offer would be low, perhaps £5 a month. But she may have better alternatives such as a Debt Relief Order or (if her debts are less than £5,000 in total) an Administration Order. She should contact StepChange or National Debtline for help with her situation.

Dr Purple – didn’t receiver the original papers in time and disputes the debt

Dr Purple has been abroad and returned to find that a judgment has already been made.  She doesn’t agree she owes the money as she says the loan was paid in full several years ago.

Next Steps Dr Purple has a good reason to ask for the judgment to be “set aside” as it was recent, she has a reason for not having returned the original court papers and she has a defence to the claim. She needs to complete form N244, which she can get from her local court. National Debtline have a fact sheet on how to set aside a CCJ which looks at when you should do this and includes an example of a completed form. There is a fee to pay, currently £155, and Dr Purple is not on a low income so she won’t qualify for a reduction. When the judgment is set aside, the court case still exists, it is just goes back to the stage before the judgment so Dr Purple will need to submit a Defence to the Claim.

Mr Orange – has just found out he received a CCJ a year ago

Mr Orange moved a couple of years ago and didn’t tell his creditors his new address.  He was recently refused a new mobile contract. When he checked his credit score, he discovered he has a CCJ from one of his credit cards that he had stopped paying.

Next Steps Mr Orange wants to get rid of the CCJ as he never received the court papers. However he doesn’t have a reason to defend the claim and he should have informed his creditors when he moved.  If you don’t have a defence, there is little point in trying to set aside the judgment – this is a waste of time, money and the Court may refuse anyway. Mr Orange should work out if he can afford to pay the full debt (like Mrs Blue) or if he should apply to make a monthly payment (like Mr Green.)

More complicated situations

Your situation may not fit one of the above scenarios or there may be some extra complications, for example the debt may be a joint debt or it may be very old and you think it may be statute barred. National Debtline is an excellent source of advice on all matters relating to CCJs, so if you don’t know what to do, or you think you do but you would like to check to be sure, give them a ring on 0808 808 4000.

all about CCJs Debt Camel’s “CCJs – common questions and problems” page covers:
– worries that you may get a CCJ
– how to fill in court papers
– what to do if you can’t afford a CCJ payments
– credit record queries …
– and lots more!
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  1. CONFUSED says

    Who can legally seek the CCJ?

    a)The originator – who says they’ve sold remaining balance to debt collector who admits purchased outstanding balance but doesn’t have paperwork to show so has to go back to originator to get it (how can this be if originator has sold debt to them? Shouldn’t all the paperwork be transferred/sold in one sitting? Is file still open with originator then because technically they’re still the originator of loan?)


    b)the debt collector who’s name appears on the credit file and says only bought the rights to collect payment?

    Even though suspect you’ll answer the debt collector, what do you think is the reason why the originator didn’t seek CCJ instead of selling to a third party? Asking because the debt collector in reality is not the originator and their name does not appear on the original agreement form and yet wish to seek a CCJ for a ‘debt’ they’ve not loaned, purchased at a big big reduction and yet want full payment + court costs if successful?

    Very confusing!

    • Debt Camel says

      You aren’t alone in finding this confusing! I’ve written another post about the legal situation when a debt is sold and it answers most of your questions: http://debtcamel.co.uk/sold-to-dca/. Yes it is the debt collector that now has the right to apply for a CCJ. The paperwork isn’t transferred because the original lender needs to keep the record of the original loan so it has got a full paper trail for its auditors. The original lender didn’t go for a CCJ probably because they preferred the ‘easy’ way to get some money quickly.

  2. CONFUSED says

    Thanks for replying

    Just like PayDay ioans got a shake up, time for more transparency with debt collectors’ operations

  3. chantelle says

    Hi, I have an old ccj it was originally with a debt company and they were making payments I have since cancelled my plan with them and they won’t give me the details of this and I have no idea how to find it and so cannot make payments and I am worried I will get bailiff at the door can u help plus.

    • Sara (Debt Camel) says

      Hi Chantelle, How annoying! I suggest trying two things. First put in a formal written complaint to the debt company – their website should say how – saying that you would like a complete list of the payments that they made to your creditors and the creditor details. Add that you will put in a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman and the Financial Conduct Authority if they do not send you this.
      Second, check your credit records with all three Credit Reference Agencies (this explains how http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/loans/check-free-credit-report). If the CCJ is less than 6 years old, it will be on there. It may also help with sorting out other non-CCJ debts. Also make sure that all three CRAs have your correct address and also a record of previous addresses.

  4. gill says

    Hi, my husband got a CCJ last October and due to not being able to make any payments to the creditor the Court ordered that the debt will not be enforced without the Courts permissuon. Can you explain what this means for the future. We have not heard from the creditor since the Court case. Does this also mean there’s no CCJ. Thank you.

    • Sara (Debt Camel) says

      Hi Gill, there still is a CCJ and it will remain as CCJs don’t expire after a certain time (though it will drop off his credit file file after 6 years.) The order means what it says – the creditor will have to go back to the court to ask permission to enforce the CCJ eg though bailiffs or an attachment of earnings. Your husband will probably be asked to give the creditor new Income & Expenditure sheets every few years. Any detailed questions about these, phone National Debtline!

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