Our UK CCJ Removal Solicitors Discuss the Basics

CCJ Removal Solicitors

Today our London CCJ removal solicitors discuss the prevention and removal of CCJ’s.

The total value of County Court Judgments (CCJs) against consumers in 2016 was £1.7 billion. This demonstrates a large increase of 24% from 2015. What are CCJs, what do they mean for individual consumers and what is the process for removing a CCJ or setting aside a CCJ?

A CCJ means that a court has formally ordered that an individual or other legal entity – commonly referred to as the ‘judgment debtor’, has a debt to pay. The CCJ is entered in a Register of Judgments which is publicly searchable and thus can seriously affect an individual’s ability to get loans, mortgages and credit cards.

Many individuals with a County Court Judgment registered against their names only become aware of the fact when it is too late, for example when a failed attempt is made to obtain a mortgage. The cause of a CCJ may be as innocent as an overpayment of a few hundred pounds by a previous employer, but the impact may be devastating.

Preventing a CCJ

Commonly CCJ’s are entered as default judgments. A default judgment is made after a civil claim is commenced and served on a defendant, but the defendant fails to respond to the claim or file a defence within the required time (usually 14 or 28 days). It is therefore important that, when warning letters or court documents are received, they are not ignored. In many cases warning letters are incorrectly sent by companies or their debt collection agents, so CCJ’s may be prevented by simply responding to the letter in writing disputing the debt on the grounds that (for example):

  • the sum has already been paid;
  • the sum asked for is the wrong amount;
  • the warning or demand has been sent to the wrong person; ie. it is not yours to pay; or
  • you dispute paying the sum because the goods or services it relates to were not delivered, not provided as agreed or were defective or sub-standard.

Where the warning letters have ended and an actual civil claim has been served, then it is crucial to respond to the claim within the applicable deadlines set by the rules of court. Failure to respond at all will most likely result in a default judgment and a CCJ being registered against your name.

Removing CCJ’s

If for whatever reason a CCJ has been made against you and entered against your name in the public register, you will want to see it removed to prevent unwanted consequences – such as having applications for credit declined when they would otherwise have been approved. CCJ removal options include:

  • paying the debt in full within a month of the CCJ being entered;
  • paying the debt in full at a later point and the obtaining a certificate of satisfaction in relation to the judgment; and
  • setting aside the CCJ (see below);

Setting aside CCJ’s

Most often, our CCJ specialist solicitors will be asked to act for individuals or companies seeking to set aside a default judgment obtained against them.

In summary, the courts can order that default judgments be set aside where:

  • the defendant has a real prospect of successfully defending the claim; or
  • it appears to the court that there is some other good reason why:
  • the judgement should be set aside or varied; or
  • the defendant should be allowed to defend the claim

To demonstrate to the court that you have a real prospect of successfully defending the claim, you do not have to prove your defence completely, in the way you would at a trial. There is a lower hurdle in relation to proving your defence at the set aside application stage. Defendants seeking to set aside CCJ’s will normally just need to show that they have a genuine factual dispute about whether the judgment sum is owed.

Act promptly

In considering whether to allow a defendant’s application to set aside a CCJ the court must have to whether the application was made promptly. The requirement to act promptly means that those seeking CCJ removal should take action as soon as the default judgment is discovered. Often a cause of delay in applying to have a CCJ set aside is that the defendant simply didn’t know about the matter; perhaps they had moved house and the warning letters and court documents simply did not come to their attention. In any case, if there is undue delay which has not been properly explained to the court, the set aside application may well fail.

Consumers were hit hard in 2016 with a record 912,389 County Court Judgments registered in England and Wales. If you require advice and representation in relation to a default judgment entered against you, you should contact one of our CCJ removal solicitors for a confidential discussion.