If you owe someone money and they begin court proceedings against you but you do not respond, you can be issued with a County Court Judgement (CCJ).
A CCJ is a formal acknowledgement authorised by the court that you owe money. This will arrive in the post and will confirm the amount that you owe, how and who you should pay and when the payment deadline is. You need to respond to this within 14 days of receipt; if the judgement is ignored and payment is not received, you can be summoned to court and forced to pay your debt as well as any additional court fees.
The record of your CCJ
If you receive a County Court Judgement, it will stay on the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines for 6 years.
Banks and loan companies will refer to this information if you apply to them for money, and they may reject your application based on records of CCJs on the register. This can also make it difficult for you to obtain a mortgage, credit card and even a bank account in the future.
To view the record of your CCJ you can access the register of judgements for a small fee – a simple search will incur a cost of £4.
How to remove the record of your CCJ
The easiest way to achieve removal of your CCJ record is to pay the outstanding order within a month of it being received. If you do this, the judgement will be completely removed from the Judgments, Orders and Fines register.
If you pay after the month grace period, you can request for the CCJ to be marked as “satisfied”. The order won’t be removed and will still be visible on the register, but people viewing it will be able to see that you have settled the payment. To do this you will need to contact the court to tell them that you have paid the debt, and provide proof of payment along with a £15 court fee.
However if you have received a County Court Judgement and don’t believe that you should have, you can contact the court to request that the order is “set aside” – this means that the CCJ will be cancelled and no record will be kept. This can be applied in cases where you either believe that you don’t owe the money, or didn’t receive or respond to the original claim forms sent before the CCJ was issued.
To do this, you will need to complete an N244 application form and may also be liable to pay an £80 court fee. You will also have to attend court to explain why you do not owe the money, so therefore why the CCJ should be set aside.
Alternatively, your record will automatically be removed from the register 6 years later.
Beware of companies offering to remove the record for you
The above mentioned methods are the only ways to legally remove a CCJ from the register. Some companies may claim that they can remove the records for you, but they will often charge large fees and can encourage people to commit perjury in the process, which is illegal.
The Office of Fair Trading has warned that the help given by these companies can be incorrect and misleading which can result in getting you into deeper trouble and worse debt. These companies may also operate as a front just to sell loans to vulnerable people.
If you are unsure on how to proceed when you receive a CCJ, seek professional advice before taking action.
Rosie Percy writes for a diverse range of topics and industries including education, health and finance. Rosie has written for the Guardian and other lifestyle blogs, and now lives and works in Brighton.