CCJ stands for ‘county court judgement’, and is an order by a judge to pay a creditor that you have borrowed money from and for some reason have stopped paying back as agreed. Lots of people in the UK have them and the quickest way to check if you do is to access your free credit report trial.
The register of judgements, orders and fines
All judgements against you are recorded on the Register of Judgements, Orders and Fines for England and Wales. This list is managed by a not for profit company, Trust Online, on behalf of the Ministry of Justice. Trust Online provide a website that enables organisations to search to see if there is a county court judgement against you.
How long do CCJs stay on your credit report
They remain on public record and your credit report for 6 years, unless you pay it off within a month of the judgement. If you don't pay it, it is a very negative factor on your credit report and will lower your credit score for the 6 year period. It will become less of a factor as the years wear on, but as it will be hard to obtain quality credit after the record is made, and rebuilding your credit rating will be difficult. If you can in any way pay the required amount, you absolutely should. Maybe ask a family member to help.
Can you get a CCJ without knowing about it?
The short answer is no you can’t. The reason is that in order to receive one in the first place, you must have had an existing credit agreement with a creditor that you have defaulted on. Then before getting it concreted into public record, you would have received a County Court Claim form allowing you 30 days to rectify the situation once and for all. It's only if you fail to act at this stage, that things get made official and irrevocable. However people do often forget that they have one from years ago, or just get out of touch with when it was and how much longer it will run.
How to Remove a County Court Judgement
If you believe that one you have is unjust (and you have a very good case) you are able to appeal. The forms and advice on how to do this are on the Direct Gov Website. If however, it is legit, then removing it is impossible until the 6 years has run its course.
What is a County Court Claim (CCC)
A CCC is a claim through a county court, by the creditor that you owe money to. The claim will outline what you owe and request payment. At this point you have a few options. First, if you do have the money you can and should pay in full. We can't stress this enough, if you can pay do it straight away. If you don’t have the money, you can respond to the court explaining your situation, in an effort to agree a new repayment schedule that you can stick to.
So a CCC won't affect my credit score?
No. The reason is that no public record is made of the CCC. It is only if you fail to pay the outstanding amount within the 30 day period, that the CCJ is entered onto the Register of County Court Judgments for a period of six years. This is the record that Experian, Equifax and other organizations have access to, and use to build your credit report to help potential creditors understand your history.
How to Satisfy a CCC
When you first receive the County Court Claim, you are then able to come to a new agreement with the creditor (through the court) of a new repayment schedule. If an agreement cannot be reach, the court will stipulate its own ruling on how much you must pay and when. Regardless, the final decision or agreement will be sent to you and you have 30 days to make the payment or commence the repayment schedule. Failure to do this is what gets a CCJ recorded in the register. Make no mistake this will seriously affect your credit score, and your ability to obtain new credit.
Advice if you do have a CCJ
If you have a CCJ on record, there is nothing you can do about it now. However, all is not entirely lost. First things first, we recommend signing up to get your free credit reports straight away to get details of what is recorded, and how it has affected your credit score. A score of below 600 is quite poor with Experian, but varies from bureau to bureau. A good way of taking your credit reports all in one place is using Check My File's multi agency credit report. It gives you a heap of data as well as access to some credit scoring, and it's cheap for what you get. We'd then read through our section on improving your credit score start putting things in to practice right now. The sooner you start the better.
County Court Forms
- N1 CPC claim form - says how much a creditor says you owe them.
- N9 Acknowledgment of service - use to extend period by 14 days to file a defence.
- N9A Admission form - If you require more time to pay, allows you to submit income and expenditure details.
- N9B Defence form - used to defend against the claim
- N 244 Stay of Judgement - used to stop the judgement being enforced.
- N245 Application for Suspension of a warrant and/or variation of an order - if you cannot afford to pay all that you have been ordered to pay, this is used to lower the amounts requested by the court.
- EX160 Application for a fee remission - asks the court not to charge you a fee.
You are going to have to work twice as hard to improve your credit score, but it is possible!