Why have I been issued with a County Court Judgement (CCJ)?
The CCJ claim form won’t come out of the blue. There are several steps your creditor needs to take before things get to this stage.
Here is a breakdown of the process:
- You missed a payment to your creditor
- Your creditor issues a default notice
- You have 14 days to respond to the default notice. Otherwise, it is re-registered on your credit file (for six years)
- If it is not dealt with, your creditor will then issue a Letter Before Claim (this is your last chance before court action begins)
- At this point, you have 30 days to seek advice and come up with a payment arrangement for your debts
- If you fail to do this, your creditor issues a County Court claim form, and you have 14 days to respond (you can ask for a further 14 days if needed)
- If no progress is made, the court will then issue a CCJ
How to respond to the CCJ claim
When it comes to legal action being taken against you in the form of a CCJ, we’ve broken this down into a few steps so you can understand how the process works:
- If you do not respond to any letters requesting late payment, you’d next be issued with a CCJ
- Respond to the County Court Claim form within 14 days offering a payment (this can be a minimum of £1)
- If you fail to respond in 14 days, be prepared as the whole amount could be requested and a payment offer could now come at a cost
Upon receiving the judgment, the court will issue either:
- a judgment by instalments, where you pay the debt off over time, or
- a judgment forthwith, where the whole amount you owe is due immediately.
If you don’t keep to the terms set out, the creditor can ask the court to enforce the debt through either:
This means, with permission from the court, a creditor can apply for a bailiff to collect the debt.
This means your debt could be repaid when your property is sold or mortgaged (this is an option for a creditor even if the CCJ payments are up-to-date).
Attachment of Earnings Order
This is when the money owed will be deducted from your wage.
What to do if you can’t afford to pay your CCJ
If you’ve received a CCJ, you’ll have received one of these three judgments:
- Judgment in Default
- Judgment In Acceptance, or
- Judgment After Determination
- A Judgment in Default is issued when you have not been able to complete and send back the County Court Claim form within the 14 days allowed, and so the Judge has decided on what he/she thinks you can afford to pay, and sometimes that payment isn’t affordable for you.
- A Judgment in Acceptance is issued when you have filled in the County Court Claim form and you’ve made an offer of payment on it to the creditor and the creditor has agreed with your offer, so this should be an affordable payment for you.
- A Judgment After Determination is issued when you fill in the County Court Claim form and send it back in time, but the creditor won’t accept the offer you made, so they ask the Judge in court to make a decision on what you can afford. In this situation, the Judge will have been able to see the claim form you sent back, and he/she will usually have worked out what is an affordable payment for you to pay to the CCJ.
If at any stage the payments become unaffordable, you can always request that the payments be amended to a more affordable amount, but the way in which you do this depends completely on which type of CCJ you received. To explain how you request a change, let’s go through each type of judgment and explain the process.
For a Judgment in Default
If the payments are unaffordable, you’ll need to fill in form N245 (available from the Court or you can find it online here) in which you’ll ask to vary the payments (this is known as a Variation). You’ll need to send this form back to the Court that set up the CCJ originally (usually this is Northampton County Court).
There’s a court fee of £14 to submit this form, but if your income is made up of benefits or tax credits, you can ask the court if you’re eligible to have the fee reduced or waivered completely. To do this, you need to fill in form EX160 (available from the Court or you can find it online here). The decision on how much of the £14 fee you have to pay will then be decided by the court.
The N245 is like the N9A admission form (part of the County Court Claim form pack) you were sent when your creditor started court action – you need to fill in details of your income, living costs and debts and make an offer of payment.
Here’s how a Variation works:
- You send the completed N245 form to the court with payment, or with proof that you’re exempt from payment
- The court will send the N245 form to the creditor to check if they agree with the new instalments. If the creditor doesn’t agree, the court will decide on a fair payment. Usually, this will be done without a hearing
- The court will then write to you with details of the new instalment. There’s no guarantee the CCJ instalments will be set at the new amount you’ve offered
For a Judgment in Acceptance and a Judgment After Determination
If you have either of these CCJs, and the payments become unaffordable (for example due to a change in circumstances), the form you need to fill in will be the N244 (available from the Court or online here). There’s a fee to submit this form to Court unless you’re requesting to vary the payment within 14 days of the Judgment in Acceptance or Judgment After Determination being issued.
However, if it’s been more than 14 days since either of these Judgments were issued, the fee is £275. If you’re on a low income, you can apply to the Court to ask for the fee to be reduced or waivered altogether, using form EX160, but again it’s at the discretion of the Court.
When you apply to vary the payments on either of these types of Judgment, it’s likely there will be a hearing at Court. This will allow you to put your case to the Judge so they can understand why you need to get the CCJ payments lowered to something more affordable. Any hearing would take place at your local County Court.
Firstly, you need to know what a CCJ is and what this means
I’ve received a County Court claim form – what do I do?
A CCJ – otherwise known as a County Court Judgment – is usually issued because of an underlying debt problem. Receiving a CCJ claim form, or a Court Summons can be a frightening and unsettling experience.
But it’s important to act quickly – you only have 14 days to reply
You’ll have received an Income and Expenditure form with the County Court Claim form, so as soon as you can, fill this out and send it back, along with an offer of payment if you can.
What to expect should a bailiff (enforcement agent) visit your home
An enforcement agent (or bailiff as they’re more commonly known) is someone who works on behalf of the court, acting for the creditors. Their job is to collect the outstanding debt or take your goods into control if you’ve defaulted on a payment agreement – your goods will then be sold at auction in order to make up the money you owe.
How will I know if a bailiff is coming to my house?
A bailiff should never turn up at your house unannounced and without prior warning. In fact, they should only ever come to your home seven days after they’ve issued you with a Notice of Enforcement. Bailiffs can only ever visit your house to enforce the following unpaid debts:
- Council tax
- Business rates
- County Court Judgements
- High Court Judgements
- Magistrates Court fines
- Compensation Orders
- Child support
- Income tax
- National insurance
- Business rent
What fees can bailiffs charge?
As you might imagine, different types of bailiffs will charge different fees to carry out their work. These include:
- County Court bailiff fees:
- Compliance stage £75 (plus an extra 7%)
- Enforcement Fee £235 (+7.5% if over £1500)
- Sale/Disposal Fee £110 (+7.5% if over £1500)
- High Court bailiff fees:
- Compliance £75
- First Enforcement stage £190 (+7.5% if over £1000)
- Second Enforcement stage £495
- Sale £525 (+ 7.5% if over £1000)
House Repossession Advice
The number of people whose homes are being repossessed is rising. However, the good news is that most mortgage possession claims do not result in the owner losing their home. If you have concerns about repossession, our Special Advice Team can help.
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