CCJ removals – How to get a CCJ removed from your credit file

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Overview:

This guide will cover everything you need to know about CCJ removals, from the different ways you can get a CCJ removed to what a CCJ removal solicitor is.

If you have unpaid debt, your creditor (the individual or business you owe money to) may take you to court to force you to repay what you owe with a County Court Judgment (CCJ). This is a type of court order that instructs you to repay your debt in full or in regular instalments.

CCJs typically stay on your credit record for a total of six years before being automatically removed, but there are some situations in which it might be possible to get a CCJ removed before this time – even if you don’t believe you owe the money.

What is a CCJ?

A County Court Judgement (CCJ) is a court order that might be issued against you if you fail to make repayments on a debt and your creditor doesn’t believe they will receive the money they are owed unless the court gets involved.

Usually, your creditor will apply for a CCJ after they have failed to come to an agreement with you over how to repay the debt. They must also send you a claim form giving you a chance to make up for missed payments before officially serving you with a CCJ.

Once the court has approved your CCJ, you will either be granted a judgment forthwith (where the full balance is due immediately) or a judgment in instalments (where you pay your balance in smaller amounts.

If you ignore court papers or refuse to comply, the court will likely issue a default judgment which is when they base their decision solely on the information your creditor provided without hearing your side of the story.

How will a CCJ affect my credit score?

When your CCJ begins, it will be added to your credit file from all of the major credit reference agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and a public register called the Register of Judgments, Orders, and Fines for six years.

During this time, your credit score will be lowered and you may have difficulty obtaining credit, such as a loan, mortgage, phone contract, or bank account.

This is because a poor credit score indicates you have handled credit poorly in the past and may struggle to repay another credit agreement.

There are steps you can take to improve your credit score during and after your arrangement, and making payments in full and on time can show lenders that you are capable of sticking to the terms of a court order and taking a proactive role in repaying your debt. 

Three ways of removing a County Court Judgment

CCJ’s will usually stay on your credit record for six years regardless of whether they are paid or ignored during this time.

However, there are some situations in which you might be able to get a CCJ removed sooner, freeing you of your financial obligations and leaving you free to get on with your life.

Here are some methods of removing a CCJ:

Pay the full amount owed within 30 days

The quickest way to get a CCJ removed from your credit record is to pay the full amount owed within the first 30 days of receiving the judgment.

This will only be an option if you have the funds readily available, but it can prevent the CCJ from appearing on your credit file for six years and harming your credit score.

Once you’re repaid the full amount, you can apply to the court for a completion certificate. This can be used as proof that you’ve repaid your debt and don’t need to make any more payments.

Apply for it to be set aside

If you don’t believe you owe the debt included in the CCJ or you weren’t given a fair chance to challenge the claim, you can apply for it to be cancelled or ‘set aside’.

This won’t remove the CCJ completely, and you will still owe the money, but it will reset it back to the claim stage so you can make your argument to the court.

The process for getting a CCJ set aside is fairly straightforward. Simply complete and return an N244 form to the court that issued the original CCJ for a court fee of £275. Usually, you’ll be invited to attend a court hearing which you must attend to explain why you don’t owe the debt.

Wait six years for it to be removed

If you admit to owing the debt but don’t have the funds to repay it within 30 days, you can wait six years for it to be removed automatically.

However, remember that your creditor can take legal action against you at any time during these six years and simply waiting for a CCJ to be removed is a risky move that could lead to you being visited by bailiffs or the money being forcibly taken from your wages.

The only time you should consider waiting for a CCJ to be removed is if your judgment is quite old and you are confident your creditor has stopped pursuing you for payment.

When would the court agree to set aside the CCJ?

The court will usually agree to set aside a CCJ if:

  • Your creditor should have known you moved and didn’t make an effort to find your new address
  • You can prove that you provided your creditor with your new address before the CJJ was issued
  • Your creditor didn’t follow the right procedure when issuing you with a CCJ claim form
  • Your creditor didn’t give you enough time to challenge the CCJ 

However, when it comes to getting a CCJ set aide, the key is to act promptly and provide as much information as possible to allow the court to assess your financial situation.

Worryingly, many people don’t know they have been issued with a court claim and only find out when they go to apply for a loan or a mortgage.

Some creditors will purposely issue a CCJ to your previous address to prevent you from challenging the claim but if the court can prove this was the case, they will set aside the judgment.

What happens if I pay a CCJ after 30 days?

If you repay a CCJ after 30 days, it will still appear on your credit file and the public register for six years but it will be marked as ‘satisfied’.

This will let prospective lenders know that whilst you still have an active CCJ, you have repaid your debt and are capable of managing your financial obligations responsibly.

Before a CCJ can be marked as satisfied, you may need to send proof of payment from your creditor so the court can confirm they have received the money.

What happens if I don’t pay a CCJ?

Once you have been served with a CCJ, you will be legally obliged to make payments as ordered by the court.

There are a number of things that can happen if you don’t pay:

Take money directly from your wages or benefits

The court has the power to instruct your employer to take money directly from your wages or benefits to repay a debt.

This can sound daunting, but there are rules preventing you from being pushed into financial hardship and you should never be left with less than 60% of your net earnings.

Freeze your bank account

If the court believes you have the money to pay the CCJ but are choosing not to, they can freeze your bank account.

The money will then be forcibly taken from your bank account to prevent you from spending it on anything other than debt repayment.

Declare you bankrupt

Although this is rare and usually only used as a last resort if you owe more than £5,000, the court has the power to initiate bankruptcy proceedings on your behalf.

This can have a catastrophic impact on your finances and make it difficult to be approved for further credit for several years, making anything from a phone contract to a mortgage impossible.

Secure the debt to your home

The court can secure a debt to your home to put pressure on you to pay it. This works a bit like a mortgage and means that, if you sell or remortgage your home before repaying the debt, any money made will go directly to your creditor to repay the debt.

Once the debt has been secured to your home, your creditor can apply for a further court order to force you to sell your home – even if you weren’t planning to.

Order bailiffs to collect the debt

One of the first things your creditor is likely to do when you don’t pay a CCJ is order bailiffs to collect the money on their behalf.

They will visit you at home (after giving seven days’ notice) and demand payment or seize goods to repay the debt.

What is a CCJ removal solicitor?

While it is entirely possible to get a CCJ removed yourself, navigating the court process can be easier with the help of a CCJ removal solicitor regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

They can advise you on the likelihood of getting your CCJ removed, walk you through the CCJ removal process, and in some cases, even represent you in court.

Before trying to get a CCJ removed yourself, consider whether you want to go through the process alone or hire a legal expert to keep you on the right track. Often, a creditor will be more willing to work with a CCJ removal solicitor than negotiate with you directly.

How can I improve my credit score after a CCJ?

Having a court order imposed against you can have a detrimental impact on your finances, but there are steps you can take to improve your credit score after a CCJ.

Here are some steps you should take to boost your credit score after successfully completing a CCJ:

Register to vote

When you register to vote, your details will be added to the electoral roll and recorded on your credit report. This can help credit reference agencies confirm your address which verifies your identity and boosts your credit score.

Make payments in full and on time

The easiest way to improve your credit rating after a CCJ is to make all payments in full and on time. From credit cards to utility bills, avoiding missed or late payments is key to maintaining a healthy credit score.

Regularly check for errors

Checking your credit report for errors on a regular basis can help you maintain a good credit score. Sometimes, human error or fraud can lead to inaccuracies on your credit report and this can unfairly drag your credit score down.

Limit your credit applications

The months after a CCJ can make or break your credit rating and credit applications should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. Making multiple credit applications within a short space of time will lower your credit score and may mean lenders are less likely to work with you.

Conclusion

County Court Judgments are usually visible on your credit report for six years from the date they were issued but depending on your circumstances, you may be able to get it removed sooner.

For example, if you repay the full balance within 30 days or can prove your creditor didn’t follow the right procedure, the court may agree to set aside the judgment.

Once a CCJ has been removed from your credit file, there will be no trace of you ever having a judgment against you and lenders won’t be able to make a decision based on your past financial problems.

Remember, if you believe you are being mistreated or harassed during the CCJ process, you have a right to complain directly to your creditor or, if this doesn’t resolve the problem, the legal ombudsman.

Key Takeaways

A CCJ will stay on your credit report for six years unless the full balance is repaid within the first 30 days
You can get a CCJ removed from your credit report if you don't believe you owe the money by applying to get it set aside
The court will agree to set aside a CCJ if the creditor sent a claim form to your old address and didn't make an effort to find your new address or ignored a change of address
Failure to pay a CCJ can lead to your creditor sending bailiffs to your address or the money being forcibly taken from your wages or benefits
After a CCJ, you can improve your credit score by registering to vote, making payments in full and on time, and limiting your credit applications
Maxine McCreadie

Maxine McCreadie

Author/Debt Expert

Maxine McCreadie, prominent personal finance writer featured in Vogue and Yahoo News, delivers practical guidance, simplifying money management and championing financial literacy.

How we reviewed this article:

HISTORY

Our debt experts continually monitor the personal finance and debt industry, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

Current Version

October 17 2023

Written by
Maxine McCreadie

Edited by
Ben McCormack

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