Having a County Court Judgement (CCJ) on your credit file can cause problems for your finances now and well into the future.
This can make it difficult to make important financial decisions, such as purchasing a home or getting married, for several years.
Like most court orders, it’s important to act as soon as possible if you think you have been issued a CCJ in error or have the means to repay it as this can lead to it being removed from your credit file promptly.
What is a CCJ?
A County Court Judgment (CCJ) is a type of court order that may be issued against you in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland if you have failed to make agreed repayments towards a debt.
In Scotland, County Court Judgments are known as Decrees.
Your creditor might apply to the court for a CCJ if they have given you multiple chances to repay the debt and don’t believe you will make up for missed repayments or repay the full amount without legal action.
However, a CCJ should never come as a shock and the court should always give you a chance to repay the debt first. This is known as a default judgment.
It will then be up to the court to hold a court hearing to determine if there is a debt to repay.
If the court decides there is an outstanding debt to pay, they will issue a CCJ against you outlining how much you owe and how it should be paid (in full or in instalments).
In most cases, you will also have to attend court.
How long will a CCJ stay on my credit file?
If you have received a CCJ, it will stay on your credit file for six years from the date it was issued regardless of whether you’ve repaid it.
During this time, your credit rating will be lowered and you will struggle to get a mortgage, loan, or phone contract.
However, if you have the means to do so, repaying the debt in regular instalments will gradually reduce the impact it has on your credit score.
Lenders may also see you as less of a risk if you can prove you are making regular payments towards a debt.
CCJs are also recorded on a public register known as the Register of Judgments, Orders, and Fines operated by the Registry Trust.
This information is publicly available but is usually only viewed by lenders when deciding whether to approve you for credit.
Can I get a CCJ removed from my credit record?
There are several instances where you can get a CCJ removed from your credit record.
Pay the full amount within one month
The quickest way to get a CCJ removed from your credit record is to pay the full amount within one month of receiving the judgment.
This will also remove the CCJ from the Register of Judgments, Orders, and Fines and the relevant credit reference agencies will be informed, making it easier for you to be approved for credit.
If you repay the full amount after the one-month deadline has passed, it will remain on your credit record for six years but will be marked as ‘satisfied’ to let lenders know you have repaid the debt.
Successfully apply to have it ‘set aside’
There are several instances in which you can apply to have a CCJ set aside (cancelled). For example, if you don’t believe you owe the money, didn’t receive or respond to the original claim form, or there was a delay in you receiving the court documents.
If you have evidence to prove this, you can fill out and return an application notice (form n244) to the court alongside a fee of £275.
However, simply filling in the form and paying the court fee doesn’t guarantee the judgment will be set aside.
It is up to the court to assess the information you have provided and make a decision.
Take out an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA)
Entering into a debt solution, such as an IVA, will immediately cancel any CCJs in your name.
This will also allow you to repay the debt at an affordable rate and in a way that suits you with an IVA comprised of a series of monthly repayments that usually lasts five years.
Wait six years
The final option is to wait six years until the CCJ is automatically removed from your credit file.
It will be removed after the six-year period is up regardless of whether you have repaid the debt in full, partially, or not at all.
Some debtors also enlist the legal services of CCJ removal solicitors regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) when trying to get a CCJ removed from their credit report.
Using a CCJ removal solicitor doesn’t guarantee your CCJ will be removed but it can help you with the legalities of the CCJ removal process.
How will I know my CCJ has been removed from my credit record?
If a CCJ has been paid within one month, the court will notify the Registry Trust.
The Registry Trust will then inform the relevant credit reference agencies who will remove any evidence of the CCJ from your credit record.
If the creditor hasn’t informed the court that the debt has been repaid, you can apply for a certificate of satisfaction or certificate of cancellation by filling in an n443 form for a fee of £14.
This is a certificate proving that you made the necessary payments and no longer owe money.
When you apply for a certificate of satisfaction, you will be asked to provide proof of payment.
This can be in the form of a receipt from the creditor or a copy of your bank statement.
The court will then confirm with the creditor that you have in fact repaid the debt. If the creditor confirms that you have settled the debt or fails to respond, the court will accept that you have repaid the debt and update the Registry Trust.