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County Court judgment (CCJ)

i The advice on this page applies to residents in England and Wales only.

What is a County Court Judgment (CCJ)?

A County Court judgment (CCJ) is a court order which tells you to pay money you owe to a debt. It’s one of the actions your creditors can take as part of the debt collection process.

If you receive a county court claim form you have just over two weeks to respond. It’s very important to respond in the timeframe given, as if you don’t, the court could order you to pay the debt back at a rate you can’t afford. This could lead to further enforcement action.

You can only receive a CCJ in England or Wales. The court process that creditors use in Northern Ireland and Scotland works differently.

If you've received a county court claim form, don’t panic. If a creditor's started court action, you need to deal with it straight away. We can help you.

Received a County Court claim form and need advice?

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Received a letter of claim?

Before a creditor can proceed with a county court claim, they must send you a 'letter of claim' in the post, providing details of the debt.

If you receive a letter of claim, don't panic. You have 30 days to respond with the reply form provided. However, it's important to reply to the letter of claim within the timeframe given, as a creditor can begin court action if you don't.

Use the reply form to:

  • Respond to the creditor
  • Fill in the enclosed financial statement (if you agree you owe the debt) to make an offer of payment if you can't afford to pay the debt in full
  • Let the creditor know you're seeking debt help
  • Request more information from the creditor about the debt, if you need it

If you and your creditor can agree a repayment arrangement from your response, court action can be avoided.

Identifying Northampton and other county court forms

Your creditor should have written to you in advance if they plan to start court action. If the debt is regulated by the Consumer Credit Act you must have received a default notice before court action can start.

Once your creditor actually starts court action, the first you’ll usually know about it is when you receive forms in the post from the court. If this happens you need to act as soon as possible. This is why it’s important to ensure your creditors have your current address, and to open your post straight away when you get it.

If you’ve received forms in the post that appear to be from a court, check them against the following list. If they meet all of these points, you’ve received a ‘claim pack', which means your creditor has applied for a County Court judgment (CCJ).

  1. There are four forms included, with the following titles printed at the top:
  • N1 - Claim form
  • N9 - Response pack
  • N9A - Admission (specified amount)
  • N9B - Defence and counterclaim

They’re usually printed on white or blue-and-white paper, with the form name at the top and the form number in the bottom right hand corner.

  1. The claim form, admission form and defence form all have the following in the top right corner:
  • The name of a court, most commonly Northampton County Court
  • Your name
  • The creditor’s name, and usually their account number or reference number for the debt
  • A ‘claim number’ which identifies your case
  1. The N1 claim form will state what you owe and normally includes a section called ‘particulars of claim’, which explains what the debt is. Particulars of claim can sometimes be sent separately if they don't appear on the N1 form

If the forms you’ve received don’t have all these features, you should contact the creditor or the court that sent it to you and ask them about it, or contact us for advice.

Completing the county court claim forms

You have 14 days to get the completed N9A or N9B back to the creditor, but the court allows a few days extra for the claim pack to get to you. The exact deadline depends on which court issued the claim. If you don’t have time to reply by post you can usually reply online, or apply for an extension using the ‘acknowledgement of service’ form.

Our step-by-step video guide below explains how to complete the CCJ forms. You can also find additional information on our County Court claim process page.

Video: how to complete a CCJ form

What happens next?

Once you've returned your court forms, if you've returned the N9A Admission form the creditor or court should agree on an amount you can afford to pay towards your CCJ, based on the information you provide on the form. The amount agreed will usually be paid in monthly instalments.

If you keep to the terms of the order by paying the right amount on time, any further action by your creditors is limited. If you're a homeowner the creditor is allowed to apply for a charging order to secure the debt against your home, but other than this, no enforcement action can be taken against you.

If you don't return the forms on time, or the amount the court sets is too high, you should read our advice on dealing with a CCJ to understand what your options are when dealing with a CCJ.

Frequently asked questions

How does a CCJ affect me?

One of the most common questions people ask is how long a CCJ lasts.

Your CCJ will show on your credit file for six years, and will likely affect your ability to take out further credit, as lenders will be able to see that you have a CCJ.

Because of this, having a CCJ on your credit file makes it harder to take out further credit. However  the most important thing is that you get free debt advice to manage your payments. Once you're back in control, you can take steps to repair your credit file. 

Your CCJ will also be added to a database called the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines within a month. This will be removed after six years. The register is operated by a company called Registry Trust, and courts send them details of all new CCJs.

What if I can't afford my CCJ?

If you didn't return the forms in time or you've been asked to pay more than you can afford this might cause difficulties, but you still have two options available:

  • Apply to change the payment terms if you can’t afford them
  • Apply to have the CCJ 'set aside' or cancelled if it should not have happened

Both of these options are explained in our section on what to do if you can't pay a CCJ.

Can I get a CCJ while I'm on a DMP or TPP?

You can still get a CCJ if you’re on a debt management plan (DMP). But being on a payment plan shows your creditors that you’re willing to make regular, affordable payments to your debts.

If you’re on a token payment plan (TPP), your creditors will be aware that you can’t afford to make bigger payments towards your debts. Although they can still take court action against you, it’s unlikely that the court will ask you to pay any more.

If you receive forms for a CCJ, don’t panic. As long as you deal with the forms promptly, it’s a really straightforward process.

Can I get help and advice with a CCJ?

If you've received a CCJ and you're not sure what to do, we can help. We can offer expert advice on the County Court claims process and how to deal with a CCJ.

We can also recommend solutions to help you manage your debt problems and give you clear, practical advice about how to deal with your debts.

You can get free online debt advice 24/7. However, if you prefer you can call us and talk to one of our advisors.

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