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i This page applies to England, Wales and Northern Ireland

County Court judgment (CCJ)

What happens if I ignore a CCJ?

If you ignore a CCJ, it won’t go away. It’ll be recorded on your credit file for six years from the date it was issued, and you’re at risk of further action being taken to recover the debt if you don’t pay it.

Ignoring a County Court judgment (CCJ) can cause problems for you. If you ignore the instructions in the claims pack, including the N9a form you use to respond, you lose the chance to pay it off, challenge it or make affordable payments.

But if you respond quickly to letters about CCJs being raised against you, you have the opportunity to prevent them from being recorded in your credit history if you’re able to pay the full amount owed.

document iconCheck whether a letter about a CCJ is official – view an example N9a court form.

We can help you deal with CCJs and other debts you’re worried about.

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What happens if I don’t pay a CCJ?

If you don’t pay what’s owed, or you don’t make an arrangement to pay, further action can be taken to recover the money through bailiffs or an order to take instalments directly from your wages, if you’re working.

signpost iconWhen a CCJ’s raised against you, the court sends you a claims pack with information on how to respond as well as a deadline for responding. Read our guide to completing County Court forms.

The person or company you owe money to can instruct bailiffs to collect CCJ debts. Bailiffs have the legal right to visit your property and remove and sell goods to pay off debts, if they have a controlled goods agreement in place.

As well as instructing bailiffs, there are different options for recovering the money owed in a CCJ. Your creditors can:

  • Take money directly from your earnings through an attachment of earnings order
  • Freeze your bank account through a third party debt order
  • Take money from the proceeds of the sale of a property or shares through a charging order
  • If you owe more than £5,000 and fail to repay what’s owed, the creditor can apply to make you bankrupt

The court can order you to attend a court hearing to discuss your income and ways you can pay the debt. If you don’t attend this hearing, the court will find you in 'civil contempt' and you’ll be ordered to pay what’s owed immediately, or possibly receive a prison sentence – although this is a last resort and very rare.

CCJ enforcement – the County Court and bailiffs

When the bailiff contacts you, which may be on the phone or by visiting your home, they should give you another opportunity to pay what’s owed. Many bailiffs will also agree to affordable payment plans.

You don’t have to let them into your home and they can’t take goods from you without a court order (a controlled goods agreement) being issued – and this would not happen on their first visit to you.

Find out how to deal with bailiffs and their rights and powers.

If your CCJ has been raised to recover council tax arrears or child maintenance, a liability order can be granted. This means court-appointed debt collection agents can visit you. You’ll also be ordered by the court to make payments or have money taken directly from your wages.

Attachment of earnings orders and County Court judgments

An attachment of earnings order is another way the court can recover money owed. This kind of order allows them to take money from your wages.

The court will write to you about this, sending you a ‘statement of means’, N56 form, which you should use to respond.

This order will allow the court to take a fixed amount from your income.

Find out how attachment of earnings orders work.

Charging orders and CCJs

Creditors can also apply for a charging order, which secures the debt against your home or any property you own.

You should never ignore a charging order as this puts you at risk of losing your home.

If you’re worried about not being able to pay a CCJ, or other debts, contact us for free and impartial debt advice.

Find out more about charging orders.

How is my credit file affected if I ignore a CCJ?

CCJs are recorded on your credit file for six years from the date they’re issued, unless you pay them off immediately. They’re also recorded on the Register of County Court judgments.

During this time, your credit score will be significantly lower. Lenders, employers and letting agencies may check your credit report and be less willing to lend to you, offer you employment, or rent you a property.

You may need to ask someone to act as a guarantor for credit and rental agreements while a CCJ is on your credit file.

Find out more about how long a CCJ lasts.

What happens if a CCJ is still unpaid after six years?

The CCJ will be removed from the Register and your credit file after six years.

During these six years, the creditor and the court can take further action you. It’s very risky to wait for a CCJ to ‘drop off’ your credit file. In rare cases, ignoring demands to pay a CCJ can lead to imprisonment.

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