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If you have been issued with a County Court Judgment (CCJ), it’s important to be aware of the impact this could have on your finances, including how long it will stay on your credit file.
Typically, a CCJ will stay on your credit file for a total of six years from the date it was added, but there are some exceptions that could see it removed sooner.
This guide will explain how long a CCJ will stay on your credit file and the situations in which you might be able to get it removed.
A County Court Judgment (CCJ) is a type of court order in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland that may be registered against you if you fail to repay debts you owe.
County Court Judgments can negatively impact your credit score, preventing you from accessing further credit and making certain financial decisions for several years.
In most cases, a CCJ will be issued after your creditor (the individual or company you owe money to) has failed to recover the money through other means or you have failed to make agreed payments on a debt.
There are several steps creditors must take before they can apply for a CCJ. This means that you should be given a chance to make up for missed payments before being issued with a CCJ and should never receive a CCJ out of the blue.
Before a creditor can initiate court proceedings against you for a debt, they must send you a letter of claim, which is essentially a final warning giving you a chance to reach an agreement before legal action commences.
When you receive a letter of claim, you will have 30 days to respond or come to an agreement to repay what you owe.
If you don’t respond or come to an agreement within 30 days, your creditor will be free to send a default notice, which is a formal letter confirming that you are officially in arrears and your account is at risk of being closed.
For credit agreements regulated by the Consumer Credit Act, your creditor must send you a default notice at least 14 days before they take legal action against you.
If you didn’t respond to the default notice and have been unable to come to an agreement this far, your creditor will issue a claim form.
When you receive a claim form, you will have 14 days to respond. Failure to respond won’t stop the CCJ from going ahead, but it will mean your financial circumstances won’t be taken into account and you may be forced to make payments that are more than you can comfortably afford or asked to pay the full amount straightaway.
Once the court has reviewed the paperwork, a judgment will be issued and you’ll be asked to repay the debt in instalments or in full.
Typically, if you’ve admitted to owing the debt and made an offer of payment, you will receive a judgment in instalments based on the financial information provided in your admission form.
When a CCJ has been issued, it will be added to your credit file and a public register called the Register of Judgments, Orders, and Fines, where it will stay for six years.
During this time, your credit score will be negatively impacted and you will struggle to get approved for other credit agreements, such as a loan, mortgage, phone contract, and even a bank account.
Lenders will check your credit file when deciding whether to approve you for credit and having a CCJ on your credit file indicates that you have struggled to make payments in the past and could be an unreliable borrower.
Having a CCJ on your credit profile for six years will lower your credit rating, making it difficult to get approved for further credit. However, there are some steps you can take to get a CCJ removed from your credit report before six years.
If you repay the full amount owed within one calendar month of receiving a CCJ, it will be removed from your credit report and there will be no trace of it anywhere, making it seem as if it never existed.
This can be a good option if you admit to owing the money and the CCJ is for a relatively small amount of money, as it can stop the judgment in its tracks and prevent your credit score from being impacted for six years.
After six years have passed, the CCJ will be automatically removed from your credit report – even if no attempt has been made to repay during in this time.
However, it is worth remembering that your creditor can still take action to enforce the CCJ after this time with permission from the court.
This could involve sending bailiffs to your home to recover money or goods or applying for an order to take the money directly from your bank.
If you don’t agree with a CCJ, you may be able to apply to get it cancelled or ‘set aside’. There is a court fee required to get a CCJ set aside and you may need to attend a hearing.
However, this is usually only considered under certain circumstances, such as if you weren’t properly informed of the CCJ, the claim form was sent to the wrong address, your insurance company was responsible for the debt, or the creditor didn’t follow the correct procedure when issuing the CCJ.
When a CCJ is set aside, it is removed from your credit report and the Register of Judgments, Orders, and Fines.
When you apply to get a CCJ set aside, there is a certain process you must follow.
The first step to getting a CCJ set aside is completing an application notice, or Form N244, and returning it to the court.
This form, which can be downloaded from the GOV.UK website, must explain why you are applying to get the CCJ set aside (e.g. you never received a claim form).
Sending a completed Form N244 to the court requires a court fee of £275, although this may be reduced or waived if you’re on a low income.
Once the court receives your completed form, you will be required to attend a court hearing.
This may sound daunting, but in most cases, it will only be attended by you and a judge, who will remain impartial, and possibly a representative of the creditor.
The aim of a court hearing is to determine if you have good enough reason to dispute the CCJ, but a decision won’t be made at this stage.
The case will then follow the normal CCJ process for a defended claim.
Sometimes, paying a CCJ even if you don’t agree to owing the money can be the best course of action.
For example, if the CCJ is only for a small debt, such as an unpaid parking charge, paying it as soon as possible can get it removed from your credit report and the public register before it has an opportunity to impact your credit rating for six years.
However, if you choose to pay a CCJ even if you dispute it, it may be advisable to let the creditor know that you’re only paying it to get it removed from your credit record and you intend to take action to claim the money back once the CCJ has been removed.
After six years, a CCJ will be removed from your credit report, and will no longer be visible to lenders reviewing your credit history.
Once a CCJ is removed from your credit report, your credit score will also automatically improve, increasing your creditworthiness and your chance of being approved for further credit down the line.
Typically, a CCJ will be automatically removed from your credit file if it has been repaid within one calendar month, six years have passed, or it has been successfully set aside.
When a CCJ is to be removed from your credit file, the court should inform the Registry Trust, who should inform the relevant credit reference agencies.
Each credit reference agency should then update your credit file, removing any trace of the CCJ.
However, occasionally problems may arise, and your CCJ may still be visible on your credit file long after it should have been removed.
This can be frustrating, but there are steps you can take to get it removed as soon as possible.
Usually, phoning the court and asking them to update their records will be enough to trigger the removal of the CCJ from your credit file.
Absolutely fantastic team, which helped throughout the whole process and kept me updated through every step, highly recommend. Can’t believe how much better I feel the worry has been lifted."
If you dispute the debt or know you won’t be able to afford to make payments towards your CCJ, it can be tempting to ignore it altogether.
However, ignoring a CCJ will only lead to more problems, and you could end up facing further legal issues or owing more in the long run.
When you ignore a CCJ, your creditor might:
Furthermore, by ignoring a CCJ, you lose the chance to explain your financial situation to the court and potentially agree on a repayment plan that you can reasonably afford.