How long does a CCJ last?

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This article will cover CCJs in more detail, including how long a CCJ stays visible on your credit report and what happens when you ignore a CCJ.

One of the most common questions among people with County Court Judgements (CCJs) is how long they last. Most CCJs last six years from the date they were issued but there are some exceptions to this rule.

What is a CCJ?

A County Court Judgment (CCJ) is a type of court order that your creditor can apply for to make you repay a debt.

Put simply, if you’ve received a CCJ, it means the court has formally decided that there is a debt to pay and you must pay it according to their terms.

They will either issue you with a judgment forthwith (where the full amount is due immediately) or a judgment in instalments (where you make monthly payments until your debt is cleared).

CCJs are usually only issued after other methods of debt recovery have been unsuccessful and the creditor has gone to court to help them retrieve payment.

How does a CCJ work?

There are several steps involved in the CCJ process. We’ve outlined each stage in more detail below:

Letter of claim

The first you’ll be informed of a CCJ made against you is when you’re sent a letter of claim outlining how much you owe, how to make payment, the deadline for paying, and to whom payment should be made.

The attached reply form, which asks for details of your income and expenditure and other debts, must be completed and returned to the court within 30 days.

Even if you know you can’t afford to repay the debt, you must respond and let the court know as ignoring a letter of claim will result in further legal action being brought against you.

Default notice

Not responding to a CCJ claim form or failing to come to an agreement within 30 days will result in you being served with a default notice.

This is essentially a letter warning you that your account is at risk of defaulting and legal action will commence if you don’t make up for the missed payments within the next 14 days.

The 14-day period after receiving a default notice will likely be your last chance to negotiate repayment of the debt before a CCJ is officially issued.

Claim form

The final step in the CCJ process is receiving a claim form in the post confirming that legal action has commenced and a CCJ will be issued.

The claim form will come with a number of other forms enclosed, which must be completed and returned to the court within 14 days. This is to give you a chance to approve or challenge the amount being claimed.

Judgment

The final step in the CCJ process is being issued with a judgment which will instruct you to repay the debt in full or in monthly instalments.

If you responded to the claim form and made a realistic offer of payment, the court will know how much you’re able to pay towards the debt and will set your payments at a rate you can afford.

How long does a CCJ last?

Once you have been issued with a CCJ, it will be visible on your credit file for six years regardless of whether you pay it or not.

During this time, you or your company’s credit score will be damaged and you’ll find it difficult to get approved for further credit as lenders will view you as high-risk.

This can make it extremely challenging to get a mortgage, personal loan, phone contract, and even a bank account.

CCJs are also added to the Register of Judgments, Orders, and Fines, which is a publicly accessible database containing information on all individuals with active court orders and judgments.

The only way to stop a CCJ from appearing anywhere is to pay the full amount owed within a month of being it being issued.

This will remove any trace of the CCJ as if it was never issued in the first place and allow you to move on with your life.

Can County Court Judgments be removed early?

Even if you repay the full amount owed at some point during the six years, the CCJ will only be removed if full payment is received within the first month.

However, if you satisfy the debt after a month, you can request a ‘certificate of satisfaction’ from the same court that issued the judgment to prove that you no longer owe the debt.

This requires proof of payment and a court fee of £14 but will show lenders and credit reference agencies that the debt has been settled and make it easier to access credit without having to wait six years.

The only other way to get a CCJ removed early (set aside) is by proving that the default judgment shouldn’t have been issued in the first place. This could be because the letter of claim was sent to the wrong address or your creditor didn’t follow the correct rules, for example.

What happens if I ignore a CCJ?

CCJs should be taken seriously and there can be severe consequences for ignoring them. We’ve outlined some of the things that could happen when you ignore a CCJ below:

Bailiffs can visit you and seize your belongings

One of the first things your creditor will do when you ignore a CCJ is instruct bailiffs or High Court enforcement officers to visit you at home and start removing your belongings.

These items will then be sold at auction with all proceeds going towards repaying your debt.

Bailiffs will usually start by asking you to repay the debt in full but, more often than not, they will be happy to accept a ‘controlled goods agreement’, which is when you agree to make small payments towards the debt in exchange for keeping your belongings.

The money owed can be forcibly taken from your wages

The next step in getting you to pay a CCJ is taking the debt straight from your earnings by deducting a set amount from your monthly wages until the debt has been fully repaid.

This is known as an ‘Attachment of Earnings Order’ and is a way of ensuring your creditor recovers the money they are owed before you have a chance to hide it from them or spend it on something other than repaying your debt.

Your funds can be frozen

Finally, the money in your bank account or building society can be frozen to stop you from withdrawing it and spending it on anything other than debt repayment.

This is called a ‘Third Party Debt Order’ and is a way of ordering a third party that owes you money (e.g. your bank or building society) to send funds directly to an individual or company that you owe.

Conclusion

A County Court Judgement (CCJ) is a way for your creditor to collect a debt that they have been unsuccessful in recovering without the help of the court.

CCJs stay on your credit file for six years regardless of whether you pay them or not. During this time, your credit rating will be lowered and you’ll struggle to get approved for further credit.

Remember, the only way to get a CCJ removed from your credit file is by paying the full amount owed within one month of receiving the judgment.

Key Takeaways

A CCJ is a type of court action your creditor can take to get you to repay money you owe
There are several steps involved in the CCJ application process and you'll be given a chance to approve or challenge the judgment
CCJs stay on your credit record and a public register for six years and can only be removed if you pay the full amount owed within a month
You can only get a CCJ set aside if you can prove it was issued in error
Ignoring a CCJ will lead to further legal action being taken against you
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

May 8 2024

Written by
Maxine McCreadie

Edited by
Ben McCormack

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