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County Court judgment (CCJ)

What if you can’t pay your CCJ?

If you returned your court forms on time, and the creditor or court agreed that the amount you were offering was fair, the CCJ may be set at the same amount you offered. This will usually be monthly instalments.

As long as you pay the correct amount to your CCJ on time, the further action your creditor can take is limited. If you’re a homeowner they can apply for a charging order to secure the debt against your property. But apart from this, there’s no other enforcement action they can take. 

If you don’t deal with your CCJ the creditor can begin taking further enforcement action

If you didn't return the forms in time, or you've been asked to pay more than you can afford you have two options:

  1. Apply to change the payment terms if you can’t afford them
  2. Apply to have the CCJ cancelled or ‘set aside’ if it should not have happened

These options are explained in more detail in the sections below. 

Option 1: Apply to change the payment terms if you can’t afford them

If you didn’t return your admission form on time, or if the creditor and court didn’t agree with the amount you offered to pay, you may get a CCJ which you can’t afford to pay.

This might be set with monthly instalments you can’t afford, or it might tell you to pay the whole amount straight away. The term 'forthwith' is used to describe this on the CCJ judgment letter.

In most cases, you can ask the court to reconsider but you must act quickly.

There are two ways to ask the court to reconsider the payments:

Redetermination

This process allows you ask the court to review the payments you were told to make to the CCJ and change them if they’re too high. This is free to apply for, but is only available if the following conditions are met:

  • The CCJ was a ‘judgment after determination’ – this will be stated on the judgment letter. This means you returned your paperwork on time, the creditor refused your offer and the court made a decision or ‘determination’ about the rate of payment.
  • Your application for redetermination is received by the court no later than 16 days from the date of judgment on the CCJ judgment letter.

You apply for redetermination by writing to the court and enclosing a copy of your budget showing the amount you can pay.  We have an example letter you can use to do this.

If your original CCJ payment was decided by a court officer, when you apply for redetermination a District Judge will review your case and decide what the rate of payment should be, usually without a hearing. 

But if the original CCJ payment was decided by a District Judge, you’ll be asked to attend your local County Court hearing centre for a hearing to decide the new rate of payment.

If original CCJ payments were decided by a District Judge at a hearing , you won’t be able to apply for free redetermination.  This doesn’t happen often because most CCJs are decided by court officers with no hearing.

Variation

This process asks the court to change the instalments if they’re too high.

You can apply for variation at any time if your circumstances change, but there’s a court fee of £50 for this. If you’re on a low income you may be able to get this for free using the form below.

You can apply for variation at any time if your circumstances change, but there’s a court fee of £50 for this. If you’re on a low income you may be able to get this for free by filling in this online form.

To apply for variation you need to fill in court form N245. This is similar to the N9A admission form you were sent when your creditor started court action, and you need to fill in details of your income, living costs and debts, and make an offer of payment.

You send the completed N245 form to the court with payment, or with proof that you’re exempt from payment.

The court will send the N245 form to the creditor to check if they agree with the new instalments. If the creditor doesn’t agree the court will decide a fair payment.  Usually this will be done without a hearing.

The court will then write to you with details of the new instalment. There’s no guarantee the CCJ instalments will be set at the new amount you’ve offered. 

To avoid the risk of your creditor starting further enforcement action, if you’re applying to vary the CCJ you’ll need to keep paying the instalments ordered in the original CCJ judgment letter until the court writes to you with details of the new payments. This could take a few weeks.

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Option 2: Apply to have the CCJ set aside

You may be able to get a CCJ cancelled if it should never have happened in the first place. This is known as ‘setting aside'.

If a CCJ is set aside it puts you back in the position you were in immediately before the judgment happened. This means you’ll get a chance to put forward a defence against the CCJ if you missed your opportunity to do this when the forms were first sent out.

Setting aside a CCJ is usually only possible if all of the following conditions are met:

  1. You weren’t aware of the CCJ, for example the claim form was sent to an old address
  2. You have a genuine argument against the CCJ, for example you’d already paid it off
  3. You act quickly as soon as you find out about the CCJ

There’s a £255 court fee to set aside a CCJ, and you’ll need to attend a hearing. If you’re on a low income, you may be able to get this for free using the EX160A form, which can also be completed online. We recommend you contact us first if you’re considering this.

You can apply to get help with court fees online, instead of filling out the paper EX160A form

If you don’t have a good argument to show why the CCJ should never have happened, applying to set it aside is very unlikely to work. We recommend getting further advice before you apply to set aside a CCJ.

Struggling to pay a CCJ?

If you're finding it difficult to pay your CCJ or you're not sure how much to offer towards payment, we can help. Use our free, online Debt Remedy tool or call our Helpline for expert advice on your options.