If you’ve got a County Court Judgment (CCJ) on your credit report, it can cause you big financial problems. Rightly or wrongly, CCJs can be a warning sign for lenders, banks, landlords, or anyone else you might need to enter a contract or repayment plan with.
So, if you’ve got a CCJ, it makes sense to do something about it as quickly as possible.
Here, we’ll explain what a County Court Judgment is – and walk you through five ways of taking action to remove a CCJ from your credit report.
A County Court Judgment (CCJ for short) is the name given to a court order that forces you to repay a debt.
County Court Judgments don’t usually come as a surprise if you’re threatened with one – they’re usually a last-resort way of getting you to pay a debt that you’ve fallen behind on.
Usually, the companies you owe money to (creditors) will threaten you with the possibility of a CCJ long before they actually take you to court. For many people, this threat is enough – but if you can’t or won’t make the required repayments, applying for a CCJ may be their only option.
The company you owe money to will apply to the court – and you’ll receive a letter explaining what your options are. At this stage, you’ll be expected to give the court a full rundown of what you earn and what you spend – and they’ll then usually set a repayment amount that satisfies the creditor and is affordable for you. Be warned though – affordable doesn’t mean ‘comfortable’ – so you may find that the repayment amount is higher than you expect.
When the court issues a CCJ, it will be logged with credit reference agencies. These agencies keep track of everything you do that relates to credit – and when a company carries out a ‘credit check’ – they check one or more of the credit files these agencies hold.
A CCJ is bad news for your credit. Not only does it prove that you’ve fallen behind with debt repayments; it also means the company you owe has had to go to a lot of trouble to get any money back from you. As such, a CCJ will damage your credit rating – and many companies will simply refuse to offer you credit.
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If you’ve got a CCJ, you almost certainly know it makes your financial life a lot harder – so getting rid of it as quickly as possible is going to sound appealing.
If you’re looking to remove your CCJ, you’ve got five possible options. Which one you take will depend on your specific circumstances.
Chances are, you won’t be able to avoid the CCJ hitting your credit file – but if you can pay off the full amount of money you owe quickly, you can have it removed.
There’s a chance that the amount you owe your creditor will have gone up if they’ve been through the CCJ process – but if you can afford to settle the debt in full within a month, you can then ask them to remove the record from your credit file and from the ‘Register of Orders’.
The public Register of Orders is where all court judgments, orders, and fines are recorded. It’s another place lenders can look before they offer you credit or services. It’s sometimes called the public ‘Register of Judgments’.
If you do pay the CCJ, it won’t automatically be removed from the register. Instead, you’ll need to ask your creditor to do it – and make sure they inform the court. Don’t worry if they don’t though; you can apply to have it removed yourself – although it does cost £15 to do so.
Depending on how much your debt is for, you might struggle to pay it off within a month. However – from a credit score point of view – paying the CCJ off after the first 30 days is still better than letter it hang around, so if possible, getting it settled ASAP is a good idea.
If you pay the debt off after 30 days, it will not be removed completely – but it will be marked as ‘satisfied’. As such, you’ll be sent a ‘Certificate of Satisfaction’ to confirm this.
A satisfied CCJ will still appear on your credit score for six years, but lenders will be far less concerned than they would be if they saw an unsatisfied judgment – making it easier to get credit.
Since many CCJs are handed out without the debtor (the person that owes the money) actually in court, they’re sometimes issued to people who don’t deserve them.
Now, there’d have to be a legal reason why the CCJ isn’t yours – but it does happen. For example, the debt might not be yours, the details of the debt were incorrect, or you weren’t given proper notice of the CCJ. If you think the simply did not deserve a CCJ, you could apply to have it ‘set aside’.
Setting aside a CCJ isn’t always easy; you’ll have to attend a private hearing at court to prove why you don’t owe the money and possibly show proof of payment. However, if the court decides you’re right, the CCJ will be removed shortly afterwards.
There’s a court fee of £255 to pay to have the private hearing – even if you’re found to be right. If you don’t attend the hearing, the court will reject the claim and the CCJ will remain on your credit record.
If you’re feeling patient, your judgement will be removed from your credit record after six years – whether or not it’s satisfied or unsatisfied.
You won’t have to apply to have it removed – it will just disappear naturally, 6 years from the date it was issued.
In some cases, a judgment against you could be damaging your credit rating for the wrong reasons. For instance, it could have been mistakenly recorded, not removed, have the wrong address details, case number – or many other fairly simple errors.
If you notice that a CCJ has errors – it’s worth informing the lender involved and the credit referencing agency; they may be able to put it right and reduce the impact it has on your credit record.
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We’ve run through some of the things that will help remove, set aside, or adjust any judgement against you – but you may see companies offering other ways of ‘legally’ getting rid of CCJs.
Although their promises might be tempting – if they suggest anything other than the methods we’ve covered here, you should avoid them – and only seek debt advice from trustworthy companies.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has investigated lots of ‘credit repair’ companies – and found many that encourage practices that could get you into a far worse situation. Some are keen to offer high-interest loans – whereas others may even suggest simply lying to the court to avoid the judgement.
The only way to get rid of a CCJ is through the court system. If you’re facing problem debts and getting rid of your CCJ doesn’t feel possible, you should talk to a company that specialises in helping people handle their debts.
Of course, if you can avoid a CCJ, it’s always better than having one satisfied, set aside, or naturally removed from your credit file.
If you’re struggling with debt and you can’t see any way that you could deal with arrears (missed payments) before they go to court, you should make it an absolute priority to talk to a professional debt solution company – one that’s authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). In some cases, people are able to write off 80% or more of what they owe – with just one affordable monthly payment to find.
Nobody’s financial circumstances are exactly the same as another person’s – so it makes sense to seek out advice that’s right for you. Do you already have a judgment against your name? Maybe you can’t see any way of avoiding a court judgment that is looming?
The sooner you act, the sooner your CCJ will be removed and you can start rebuilding your financial life.