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What Happens if I Ignore a CCJ?

Written by, Marija Petkova

Updated September, 2, 2022

When you’re dealing with debt, it’s important to stay on top of things.

Ignoring a creditor’s letters or phone calls can result in court order payment, also called ‘CCJ,’ which can have some serious consequences. 

So, what happens if I ignore a CCJ exactly and how does the County Court Judgement process work?

Let’s find out. 

What Is CCJ in the UK?

A County Court Judgement (CCJ) is a judgement made by a county court in the UK.

Courts issue CCJs when an individual owes money to someone, usually a creditor, and they take legal action to recover the debt. If you’ve received a CCJ, it means that the court has essentially given the creditor a money judgement and officially ruled that you owe the money.

The CCJ will let you know, how much you owe in total, how to pay (including the CCJ minimum payments which come in the form of instalments), when you need to pay off the debt, and to whom you owe the money.

You can usually negotiate a lower monthly payment with the creditor if you can’t afford it. 

How long does a CCJ last? 

A CCJ stays on your credit report for six years. It will show on your credit file even if you pay it off sooner or if you fail to pay the full amount by the end of the six years. 

As long as a CCJ stays on your credit report, it will affect your credit ratings and will make it more difficult to obtain credit in that period. 

What Happens if You Don’t Pay a CCJ?

Ignoring a CCJ, failing to respond to the CCJ letter or making a CCJ payment plan, will only result in further action.

One County Court Judgement enforcement option is for the credit to send a bailiff (a CCJ enforcement agent) to collect the debt. The bailiff will inform you when they plan to visit your home around seven days in advance, but if you refuse to talk to them or don’t agree to pay the debt, you can end up owing more money. 

If you let the bailiff in your home and you can’t pay the debt, they can take some of your belongings to sell to pay off the debt. If you don’t let them inside, they can take things from outside the house, like your car. 

Did you know? The latest UK personal debt statistics indicate that British people owe more than £1,600 billion!

You can always talk to the bailiff and offer to make weekly/monthly payments or find a way together that will help you pay off the money you owe. 

Other options for credits include taking money directly from your monthly earnings or proceeds of a sale of property, applying to make you bankrupt (if you owe more than £5,000), or asking the court to freeze your bank accounts

What’s more, the court has the authority to order you to attend a hearing to discuss your income and alternatives for repaying the debt. If you don’t show up, the court can keep you in civil contempt and order you to pay off your debt right away, or face imprisonment.

What happens if you have unpaid CCJ after 6 years?

Your CCJ will be automatically removed from your credit report, regardless of whether you paid off your debt. During this period, the creditor and the court can take additional action against you.

If you haven’t paid your debt in six years since the CCJ was issued, the creditor will have to go back to court to ask for special permission that will allow them to continue the enforcement process. 

Who Can See and Check County Court Judgements?

A CCJ is recorded on the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines, where it usually stays for six years –the same amount of time that it will remain on your credit file. 

Anyone who can get access to your credit report or the public register (where they can do a Country Court Judgement search by name, address, and case number for a fee) can do a Country Court Judgement check. 

CCJ removals

You can have a CCJ removed from the Country Court Judgement register (and your credit file) by paying the CCJ within 30 days. To make sure a paid CCJ doesn’t end up on your credit report, you should ask the claimant to confirm that they have informed the court that the debt has been settled.

How Can You Rebuild Your Credit Rating After Paying off a CCJ?

To start rebuilding your credit rating you will have to pay off the entire debt. 

The CCJ will disappear from your credit file even if you don’t pay it off in its entirety in six years, however, mortgage lenders, banks, and anyone else can still check the public register, which will let them know that you have an unsatisfied Country Court Judgement and make it difficult to obtain a loan or good mortgage rates with a CCJ.

To improve your credit rating, you should:

  • Meet the payments for your CCJ and any other credit agreements. If you believe you may fall behind on a payment, contact the lender ahead of time to see what measures can be taken.
  • Minimise the number of times you apply for credit. Try to maintain a one-application-per-three-months maximum.
  • Make sure your credit information is correct. If you think there are errors on your credit report, you can dispute them for free with the credit reporting companies.
  • Pay all of your bills on time. This proves responsible financial behaviour.

How to avoid receiving a CCJ

If you’re having trouble repaying your debt, you should consider reaching out to a free debt counsellor. They’ll be able to talk you through your debt options and help find a solution that matches your financial situation. 

If you’ve fallen behind with payments, you should: 

  • Fill out any paperwork and respond to your creditor as soon as possible.
  • Let your lender know ahead of time if you need more time to gather important information.
  • Provide them with a financial statement so they can see how much you owe and how much money you have to pay off your debts.

If you regularly communicate with your creditor, you should be able to reach an agreement that allows you to continue making payments that you can afford and avoid court action altogether. 

Bottom Line 

CCJ is a legal document that informs an individual that the court has officially ruled that they owe money and have to pay off their debt. Ignoring a CCJ won’t make it go away– creditors have plenty of options to take further action, including asking a bailiff to come to your house and collect the debt in any way they see fit. 

My name is Marija, and I'm a financial writer at DontDisappointMe. Although finance might not be everyone's cup of tea, my 10+ years of working in one of the biggest banks in my country, and my interest in extensive research on everything finance/investment-related, have made me somewhat of an expert in the field (if I do say so myself). No longer having the passion to work in a corporate setting, I decided that I couldn't let all of this knowledge go to waste so I started writing. And, here I am! Today I try to share my knowledge with my audience in the hopes of making this topic as simple and interesting as possible. In my leisure time, I like spending time with my family and travelling to new locations.