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Tackling your debts

How to dispute a County Court Judgment (CCJ)

Posted 07 March 2013

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What are your options if a CCJ has been made against you? Can you get it put aside?

 

If you have unmanageable debts, one of the ways your creditors can try to recover some of what you owe them, is to apply for a County Court Judgement, or CCJ, against you.

If you’re starting to struggle with your debts, you may have already been advised that your creditors are thinking of taking you to court. This isn’t something they do lightly, and they should have already tried on several occasions to contact you, to give you every opportunity to make arrangements to pay, before resorting to court action. But, if it gets to the stage where a CCJ is awarded against you, what, if anything, can you do about it?      

Make sure it’s a CCJ

This may sound a little strange, but the first thing we’d advise you to do, if you receive something that talks about CCJs, is make sure it’s not just a warning that the creditor is thinking of taking you to court, rather than an actual CCJ claim form. We say this because lots of letters can look like CCJs, but they’re not, so it’s best to make sure first.

Just to give you a little bit of background on what happens before you can be issued with a CCJ, it’s useful to know that your creditor must have issued you with an official default letter first. This will tell you what payments you’ve missed, how much you have to pay to bring yourself back up-to-date and it’ll inform you that you have 14 days to pay the amount owing.  

If you’re not able to pay the whole amount in full before the court date, and you don’t speak to the creditor either, they can proceed with the CCJ. If they do, you’ll receive the paperwork shown in the picture below. These will usually be light blue in colour and they’ll have an official crest on the top. It’s called an N1 and will detail the following:

·         how much you need to pay

·         how you can make your payment

·         when the payment needs to be made by

·         who you should make your payment to

It will look like this:

Other forms in the pack

Also included in the pack you receive from the court will be an N9a and an N9b form. Which of these you fill in depends on whether you agree with the amount you’re being asked to pay or not:

If you owe the money and can pay in full…

If you agree that you owe the money, and you can pay the amount owing in full, you can simply fill in an N9a Admission form. If you do this and send your payment, in full, to the court before the 14 days is up, there will be no CCJ awarded against you.

You should complete this form, including how much of the claim you admit to owing, your personal details, offer of payment and then sign and date the declaration box. This is what it looks like. 

 

If you owe the money, but can’t pay in full…

If you think you owe the money, but you can’t pay it all in one go, you can ask to be allowed to pay in instalments. You’d need to fill in section 11 – offer of payment on the N9a with the amount you think you’ll be able to afford each month. 

If you don’t think the CCJ is right…

If you receive a CCJ, but you don’t agree with it, you can dispute it. You can either dispute the whole amount or just part of the amount, which is called a Part Admission. You do this by filling in the N9b form that comes in your response pack. There’s a box you can fill in to say how much of the debt you agree to owing and, if there’s a portion you are not willing to accept, your reasons why. There are a number of reasons why you may dispute a CCJ, including:

·         the debt has been paid

·         the debt is not yours

·         the amount is wrong

·         you have been declared bankrupt, you’re entering into a DRO or you have decided to use an IVA for your problem debts

·         the debt is already statute barred, meaning the creditor can no longer chase you for it

·         you have a counterclaim, which could be for goods or services that you never received

If any of these apply to you, you should fill in a defence form and send it back to the court within 14 days of receiving the paperwork advising you of the CCJ. It looks like this:

 

If you receive the CCJ forms and wish to dispute the claim, but want more time to sort everything out, you can fill in the Acknowledgement of Service section on the N9a form. Once this is submitted you’ll have 28 days from when you received the form to send it back, along with your completed defence form.   

Once you’ve completed the relevant sections on the response pack, you should send it back to the:

·         court – if you wish to dispute the claim

·         ‘Address for Payment’ – if you wish to admit the claim and pay

As a precaution, we’d advise that you take a copy of any of the forms you send. You can do this by photocopying, scanning or taking a photo of the completed documents before sending them. You may also want to send your documents recorded delivery, so that you have a means of checking when they arrived at the address specified.

We hope that this has given you more of an idea about what you should do if you receive a CCJ claim form. If you are still unsure about this process or you just want to talk over your current financial situation with a debt advisor, now would be a good time. We have trained advisors who can help you find the best way toward a debt free future.   

by Shelley Bowers

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.