County court judgment forms
There are several court forms associated with county court judgments (CCJs as they are known) Here’s a quick guide.
Court forms explained
Here are the court forms you may come across
- N1 CPC claim form Shows you how much a creditor says you owe them.
- N9 Acknowledgement of service Used to ask for another 14 days to file a defence.
- N9A Admission form If you admit the claim but you want time to pay. Asks for your income and expenditure so the court can determine how much you should pay if it files against you. You can use it to make an offer to pay, or to ask for more time.
- N9B Defence form If you want to defend the claim.
- N 244 Stay of judgment You can use this to stop the judgment being enforced – if you want it set aside or you can’t afford to pay anything because your circumstances have changed.
- N245 Application for suspension of a warrant and/or variation of an order If you can’t afford to pay all that you’ve been ordered to pay (whether in full or instalments), this is used to ask the court to agree to a lower amount.
- EX160 Application for a fee remission Asks the court not to charge you a fee (you can apply retrospectively for six months).
County courts: how they work
County court cases
Most cases leading to a CCJ are between people or companies that believe the other side owes them money.
Claims are generally straightforward, and you won’t usually need a solicitor.
The county court can help you fill out the forms – but it won’t give you legal advice.
You can get that from organizations like the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. Charities like StepChange Debt Charity can also give debt advice.
It costs to go to the county court, and these fees will be added to what you owe if a CCJ is made against you.
The County Court process
The process is fairly simple:
- Receive notification As a defendant, you’ll get sent a form explaining what it’s claimed you owe.
- Fill out form You fill out the appropriate court form, depending on whether you want to dispute or admit the claim.
- Informal hearing (sometimes) In they event of a dispute, you’ll usually be asked to attend an informal hearing before a judge or district judge. This is heard in private.
Judgment After the hearing, you’re sent an order or judgment. This CCJ sets out the judge’s decision.
CCJs and credit
A CCJ will affect your chances of getting credit. So if you know you owe money, it’s best to repay it.
Despite claims by some credit repair firms, there is no way to remove CCJs once they’re on the register, unless you pay the judgment in full within one month.
If you have a judgment against you which you don't pay, the court can enforce payment.
Judgment enforcement methods
If a court has ruled that you owe money and you don’t pay all of it on time (e.g. you miss some instalments), the claimant can return to the court to enforce the order.
The claimant will have to pay a fee to do this – and this fee will be added to what you owe.
Methods the court can use to enforce judgments include:
- Attachment of earnings order Takes the money directly from your wages. The employer is forced by law to deduct money from your wages and pay it to the claimant that’s owed it.
- Charging order What’s owed is taken from the sale of your house.
- Third party debt order Freezes money held in, say, a bank account so it can be used to pay what is owed.
- Warrant of execution This results in a court bailiff attempting to seize your goods to sell to pay the money.
- Transfer to High Court This results in a High Court Enforcement Officer collecting the money or seizing your goods to sell to pay the money.
You may also receive an ‘order to obtain information’. This is an interview to discover information about your financial situation – it’s part of the judgment enforcement process.
Act before judgment enforcement is an issue
If you think you’re going to have problems meeting the repayments ordered by the court, you can ask the court to reduce the payments (there’s a court form that lets you do this).
It’s also worth speaking to a debt advice charity like the StepChange Debt Charity.
It’s far better, and cheaper, for you to stick to the terms of the original CCJ if you can.
If you don’t reply to court documents, the county court will issue a default judgment. With no evidence about what you can afford, it may order you to pay the amount in full.
Default judgments: when they happen
If someone (the claimant) thinks you owe them money, they apply to the court for a judgment. You’ll be sent a claim form, together with other court forms to complete.
You must send these back within 14 days (28 days if you apply for more time).
If you don’t, the claimant can apply to the court for a judgment in default. This means that only the claimant’s side of the story is heard.
The claimant is likely to demand the full amount plus fees and interest is ordered to be paid immediately.
A default judgment is binding – the claimant can take steps to have it enforced.
Setting aside a default judgment
You may be able to get a default judgment set aside. This may be possible if you never received the documents, or were in hospital and didn’t know they’d arrived.
You’ll be expected to prove these facts, and pay a fee.
Cases when the court must set aside a default judgment are when you’ve:
- already paid everything you owe (so no judgment is necessary);
- submitted a defence on time ;
- asked for more time to pay (within the time limit for doing so).
This doesn’t mean the case is over – it just means the court will listen to your side of the argument before deciding.
It’s far better, and cheaper, for you to reply to the forms as soon as you get them.
If you’re refused credit and think it maybe because you have a default CCJ against you, you should check the register.
Default judgment vs default notice
A default notice is different to a default judgment.
- Default notice Lenders must send you this before taking you to court over unpaid debts. It’s not a court document – it’s the final step a lender must take before going to court.
- Default judgment This is when the court rules even though it hasn’t heard your side of the story.
Removing a CCJ
It is possible to get a CCJ removed in some cases. But dubious credit repair companies make promises they can’t keep. It’s a criminal offence to lie to a court to try to get a CCJ removed.
There are some options to remove a CCJ from the Register or have the information on it corrected. These include:
- Paying the CCJ in full within a month If you do this, details of the county court judgment are removed altogether from the register.
- Paying the CCJ later You can get a certificate of satisfaction, in which case the CCJ is marked as satisfied on the register (but stays on it). Anyone who checks it will know that you have paid what you owe.
- Judgment set aside You can apply for the judgment to be set aside in some cases.
- Wait six years The register holds details of CCJs for six years. For them to be removed, you have to wait for this time limit.
- Amend details If your details on the register are wrong (e.g. the amount of the CCJ is wrong) contact us once you’ve searched the register. We will check with the court, and we’ll let you know what they say.
Credit repair companies
There are no other ways to get a CCJ removed from the register.
Some disreputable companies credit repair have claimed to do things like ‘legally remove CCJs’. These companies charge for these services, and have encouraged people to commit perjury, laying themselves open to prosecution.
If there is a mistake on the register, you can have it corrected by contacting the court.
If there is not a mistake, you can’t. And lying to the court to try to get a CCJ removed will get you in a lot of trouble.
OFT warning on credit repair
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has warned that “the information given by these companies may be wrong, misleading or guaranteed to get you into worse trouble – and ensure that you are even more out of pocket. They may also be a ‘front’ for a lender or broker who is simply trying to sell you a loan.”
As the Director General of the OFT points out “these (credit repair) companies offer nothing you cannot do for yourself. County court judgments cannot be removed from credit files unless they have been discharged (within a month) or were incorrectly granted."