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County Court judgment (CCJ)

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

How to set aside a County Court judgment (CCJ)

If you receive a County Court judgment (CCJ) you don’t agree with, you may be able to apply to cancel it by completing an N244 form and returning it to the court. This is known as ‘setting aside’ a CCJ.

A County Court judgment is a court order for you to repay a debt. In some cases, if you didn’t know about the CCJ, or the creditor who applied for it didn’t follow the right process, you may be able to get it set aside.

When a CCJ is set aside, it is removed from your credit history.

Setting aside a court judgment is usually only possible if you have a good reason. There’s a fee to set aside a CCJ, and if you apply without a good reason you may end up out of pocket.

signpost iconHow to complete the court forms to set aside a CCJ

You can find out more about N244 County Court form here. Our guide explains when and how to use the forms.

Setting aside a CCJ cancels the judgment. This doesn’t mean the debt disappears or that court action automatically stops.

If the judgment is set aside, you and the creditor are put back in the position you were both in immediately before the judgment.

This means if you have an argument or ‘defence’ against the judgment which you didn’t get a chance to raise when the claim was first issued, you have a second chance to do this.

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What reasons can you give to get a CCJ set aside?

You may be able to get a CCJ set aside if the original judgment was made without your response being taken into account. This could happen if:

  • The claim form was sent to an old address
  • You didn’t receive the claim form because of problems with the post
  • You replied to the claim form on time but the creditor ignored this or asked the court for a judgment too early

On top of this, there usually needs to be some argument or ‘defence’ against the amount the creditor claimed.

Examples of defences include:

  • You don’t owe the money: You think the debt had already been paid in full before the judgment was raised
  • There is wrong information on the CCJ: You believe that the creditor has wrong information about either you or the debt or the amount they’re asking you to pay has been worked out incorrectly
  • The debt is statute barred: You believe the debt was taken out longer than six years ago, and you should no longer be liable for it
  • It doesn’t comply with the Consumer Credit Act: You’ve asked your creditor to supply you with a copy of the credit agreement and a statement of your account, and they’ve been unable or unwilling to do so

A court usually won’t agree to set aside a CCJ if you received the original claim form and replied to it without including a defence. However, there might still be cases where a court would consider setting aside a CCJ if it shouldn’t have been issued in the first place.

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Can I dispute or set aside a CCJ I didn’t know about?

It can come as a shock to discover you have a CCJ you knew nothing about. Some people only find out when they check their credit score, or they get turned down when applying for new credit. In rare cases, the first notice of a CCJ might be contact from a bailiff.

This could happen if you’ve moved house and not kept creditors up to date with your current address.

You can’t challenge a CCJ purely on the basis that you didn’t know about it. The judge looks at whether the CCJ was issued to the right person, for the right amount and for a debt that is owed to the creditor.

If you discover a CCJ you didn’t know about you need to find out who the creditor is and how much the claim is for.

You can find out by:

  • Looking at any court forms you receive
  • Calling the court, if you don’t have the court forms
  • Checking your credit file

For more information, read our guide to finding out who you owe money to.

If the CCJ is correct, but you can’t afford to pay the CCJ, it’s usually cheaper and easier to ask the court to set affordable monthly payments. This is called ‘varying’ a judgment.

Find out more about how to pay a CCJ.

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Do I have to attend court?

Yes, in most cases you will have to attend a court hearing.

This should be at your local hearing centre, the court will let you know where and when this is.

Although this may sound worrying, a hearing usually takes place in a private room with you, a judge and sometimes a representative from the creditor. The judge is impartial and will decide a fair outcome.

At a hearing to set aside a CCJ the judge would normally consider whether you have an ‘arguable’ defence. They don’t make a final decision on whether the defence is correct or not at this stage.

The case will then follow the normal CCJ process for a defended claim. You have to use the N9a Claims pack.

HM Courts and Tribunal Services have confirmed that face-to-face hearings are still going ahead with social distancing measures in place.

There's more advice and guidance from HM Courts and Tribunal Services here.

What happens if my application is rejected?

If the court thinks you don’t have enough of a defence or there’s some other reason why the judgment shouldn’t be set aside, they’ll refuse the application and the judgment will stand. They’ll make another judgment at the same amount as the first one. This means you’re back in the same position.

They wouldn’t normally make any amendments to the judgment at this stage – just either set it aside or not.

Sometimes another hearing may be needed to make a final decision if there are complicated issues to consider.

However, if the court doesn’t agree that you have a defence against the claim, the judgment will stand.

Find out more about court action in England and Wales.

Can I remove a CCJ from my credit file?

If you pay your CCJ in full within a month of the judgment

To do this, you need to apply for a ‘certificate of cancellation’ from the County Court hearing centre which issued the judgment, providing them with proof of payment. You do this using court form N443 Application (PDF) for a certificate of satisfaction / cancellation.

There’s a £14 court fee to do this, but if you’re on a low income you may be able to get this for free. You can check to see if you’re eligible and apply for help with the court fees online.

Once the court has evidence you’ve paid the CCJ within a month they’ll contact the Registry Trust to remove the judgment from the public register.

If you pay off the CCJ more than a month after the judgment

You can’t remove it from the register, so it’ll appear there for six years. During this time, if you do pay it off, you can apply to the court for a ‘certificate of satisfaction’ using the same process as above.

This won’t remove your CCJ from the public register but it’ll show anyone who checks the register that it’s been paid off or ‘satisfied’. This might make it easier to apply for credit before the CCJ drops off your credit file, six years from the date of the original court judgment.

Read our guide to CCJs and credit files.

When does a County Court judgment become statute barred?

Statute barred means that a debt was taken out a long time ago and, as a result, you may no longer be liable for it.

A CCJ never becomes fully statute barred. However, if your creditor hasn’t taken any enforcement action against you for six years, they’ll need to apply to the court for permission if they want to use bailiffs to enforce the debt.

If you think the CCJ was ordered after the six year limitation period passed, you can ask the court to set aside the CCJ by putting in a Limitation Act defence./p>

Find out more about statute barred debt.

Get help with County Court judgments and other debts

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