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Court claim forms and processes

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

How to respond to a CCJ County Court claim form

If a creditor has started court action, you need to deal with it straight away. However, we can help you.

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, and this could lead to further ‘enforcement’ action.

Completing a County Court claim form

The forms you need to fill in will depend on whether you agree that you owe the money or not:

  • I agree that the amount on the claim form is right

In most cases, the amount the creditor is claiming you owe will be right, but you won’t be able to pay it off in one go, so you’ll need to ask for payments in affordable instalments.

To ask for payments in instalments, you need to fill in and return the admission form. This has the title ‘Admission (specified amount)’ at the top and the form number N9A in the bottom right corner.

This form asks for details of your income, living costs, other debts and an offer of payment. Your creditor will use this information to decide if your offer of payment is reasonable. If the creditor doesn’t agree with your offer the court will make the final decision. 

The N9A must be sent back to the creditor at the address shown on the N1 claim form. Don’t send it to the court.

  • The amount on the claim form is wrong, or I don’t owe the money

Sometimes the amount a creditor claims isn’t right, or you don’t actually owe the money. For example, this happens when the debt isn’t yours, or you haven’t had any contact with the creditor for several years and they’re out of time to start court action because the debt has become statute barred.

If you don’t agree with the amount claimed you can ‘defend’ the claim by returning the ‘Defence and counterclaim’ form, marked N9B in the bottom right corner.

If you think you owe something, but the amount claimed is wrong, you can submit a 'partial defence' by completing both the N9A and N9B forms. In this case, both forms would need to be sent to the court.

Defending a claim can be complicated. You may need to provide more information, and you’ll usually have to attend a hearing with a District Judge at your local county court hearing centre. In some cases, extra costs may be added if your defence is rejected. 

You should only return the N9B if you have a genuine reason to dispute the amount claimed. We strongly recommend you get debt advice before defending a claim, so call us for help if you’re considering this.

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A step-by-step video guide to completing a County Court admission form

The video below is a step-by-step guide to completing your N9A admission form.

Remember, if you believe the amount is wrong or the debt isn’t yours, this is a more complicated situation, so contact us for advice.

As you complete your N9A admission form make sure that:

  • You listen to the video carefully, and pause and rewind it as many times as you need to
  • The information you give in the form is as clear and accurate as possible

How long do I have to return my CCJ forms?

You have 14 days to get the completed N9A 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:

  • Northampton County Court Business Centre – the deadline is 19 days from the issue date printed on the N1 claim form
  • Any other county court hearing centre – the deadline is 14 days from day you received the form. The court assumes it takes two working days for forms to arrive by post so in practice you have 16 days from the postmark on the envelope

If you’re defending the claim and you need extra time, for example to get further advice on completing the N9B form, you can return the ‘Acknowledgement of service’ form in the claim pack. As long as you send this back to the court before the original 19 or 16 day deadline you’ll get an extra 14 days.

Filling in forms online

If you don’t have time to reply by post you can usually reply online.

Check the N1 claim form, and if it includes log-in details to reply online you can do this by visiting Money Claim Online.

The deadline to reply is the same as if you were returning the forms by post. This can be useful if you’re close to the deadline and don’t have time to get your forms back to the creditor or court by post.

Returning CCJ claims forms

When you’re returning your CCJ claims forms, it’s important to remember the following:

  • Make sure you send your forms to the right place. If you’re just sending back the N9A admission form, this goes to the creditor. Send it to the ‘address for sending documents’ which appears on the N1 claim form. This could be the creditors or their solicitors. Don’t send the N9A to the court. If you’re defending the claim and sending the N9B back, your forms need to go to the court.
  • If you’ve used any additional sheets, attach these to the N9A form by stapling them. You also need to write your name and the claim number clearly at the top of each sheet. If you’ve added more than one page clearly number each one, for example ‘1 of 3’, ‘2 of 3’ and so on.
  • Photocopy the N9A form before you send it and keep the photocopy for your records.
  • Send your completed form by first class recorded delivery and keep proof of postage. Recorded delivery adds to the cost of postage, depending on the weight. There's more information on the Royal Mail website. If you can’t afford this, ask at the Post Office counter for a receipt of ‘certificate of posting’ to prove you’ve posted the form.

What happens if I miss the deadline to return my CCJ forms

If you’ve missed the deadline to return the N9A admission form, your creditor can ask the court for a CCJ with payments at a rate they choose – normally they'll ask for the full payment to be made immediately or ‘forthwith’.

If you’re only a few days late you should still complete the N9A and send it to your creditor. If they receive your form before they've contacted the court, they have to take it into account. However, some creditors will act as soon as the deadline's passed, so always aim to get your forms returned on time.

What happens next?

Once you’ve returned your N9A admission form, the creditor will decide whether to accept your offer. If they agree it’s reasonable the creditor will ask the court to set the CCJ payments at the amount you’ve offered.

If your creditor doesn’t agree with your offer, they’ll send your admission form to the court to make a decision. A court officer or District Judge will decide a reasonable rate of payment, based on the information you’ve included in your N9A admission and what rate of payment the creditor has told the court they want.