If you don’t pay certain debts, your creditor could threaten to take you to court and could get a county court judgment (CCJ) against you. Find out what a CCJ could mean for you and how you may be able to deal with it.
County court judgment (CCJ)
A county court judgment (CCJ) to recover money is a court order that states what you must pay towards an individual debt.
The order can specify how much and when the money should be paid, and if it can be paid in installments. County court judgments are often used as a way of recovering non-priority debts.
A creditor is the person or company you owe money to. You can defend a claim made by your creditor if you don’t agree with it or only agree with part of it. If you agree you are liable for the debt, you can make an offer to pay at an affordable rate.
You must complete an 'income and expenditure' form. This provides the court with information about your financial circumstances and allows it to decide on an affordable rate of repayment. You must make sure that you respond to the court within 14 days, otherwise the court could order you to pay the full sum immediately.
If a CCJ is granted against you and you don’t pay the amount required within a month, details are made publicly available on a court register for six years. Credit reference agencies can check this and it could affect your credit rating.
Problems with CCJ payments
If the court orders you to make regular payments to your creditor, it is the creditor's responsibility to collect them.
Make sure you keep receipts and a record of all the payments you make. Try to make the correct payments, for example if monthly payments have been agreed then you must pay these every month. If you don't, the creditor can ask the court to take further action to pay your debt and court fees.
Your creditor can also ask the court for:
- a warrant of execution – to allow court bailiffs to take and sell certain belongings
- an attachment of earnings order – allowing deductions from your wages, statutory sick pay or occupational pension (but not benefits)
- a charging order – allowing a charge against your share of a property and for interest to be charged at a rate set by the UK government
- a third party debt order – this instructs someone who owes you money (for example, a bank holding your savings account) to pay it to your creditor instead
Changes in circumstances
You can apply to the court to change the terms of your CCJ if your circumstances change.
You can do this, for example, if you can no longer afford the payments or the original decision was made without the court being aware of some important information.
Take steps to avoid a CCJ
Try to negotiate with a creditor who is threatening to take you to court. Make an offer of repayment that you can afford and that you can keep to.
A debt adviser can help you work out an affordable budget.
Use Shelter's budget calculator to help you work out how to manage your money and your debts.
You can also find more information about where to get help with debts