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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

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.

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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How do I use the N244 form to ask for the CCJ to be set aside?

If you want to apply to set aside a CCJ, you’ll need to fill out an N244 form (pdf). If you’re unsure about how to fill out the application form, you can use these N244 guidance notes (pdf) to help.

  • The application fee is £255, but if you’re on a low income, you can apply to get help with court fees
  • In the form, you’ll need to explain that you want to set aside the judgment and the reason why
  • If you didn’t respond to the original claim form the court sent, explain the reason for this. If you delayed applying to set aside the CCJ after you found out about it, you should also explain why
  • If you dispute the amount claimed, for example because the balance is wrong, or the debt was already statute barred before the claim was issued, explain this and include photocopies of any documents that support your argument

You need to send the completed N244 form to the court along with the fee. It’s also a good idea to let the creditor know that you’re doing this.

Do you have to attend court to set aside a CCJ?

In most cases there’ll be a court hearing about the case that you must attend.

This should be at your local hearing centre, and the court will let you know when this is. Although this may sound worrying, a hearing like this is usually 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.

A set aside hearing would normally consider whether the defendant has an ‘arguable’ defence rather than making a final decision on whether the defence is correct or not. If the court agrees there’s an arguable defence, they’ll set aside the judgment and allow you to file a defence. The case will then follow the normal CCJ process for a defended claim.

If the court thinks there’s no arguable defence, or some other reason why the judgment shouldn’t be set aside, they’ll refuse the application and the judgment will stand.

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, they’ll make another judgment at the same amount as the first one. This means you’re back in the same position.

Find out more about court action in England and Wales.

I have an upcoming court hearing, should I still go?

HM Courts and Tribunal Services have confirmed that face-to-face hearings are still going ahead with social distancing measures in place. However, if you have any coronavirus symptoms or are self-isolating, you should not go to any court buildings.

If you, or the people going to court with you do have confirmed or possible coronavirus, you should contact the court as soon as possible.

You can find more advice and guidance from HM Courts and Tribunal Services here.

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

A common reason people want to set aside a judgment is if they find out they have a CCJ they didn’t know about.

This could happen if you’ve moved house and not kept creditors up to date with your current address. This is easily done if you have old debts and you’ve not heard from the creditors in a long time.

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.

If you find out about a CCJ like this, one option is applying to set it aside. However, this is usually only worthwhile if you disagree with the amount the creditor is claiming. 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.

This means if you discover an unknown CCJ, the first step is always to check which creditor issued it. This information will appear on any court forms you receive. If you haven’t received any forms, you can ring the court to check who the creditor is. The name of the court will be shown on your credit file.

Once you know who the CCJ is from, you can check if the amount is correct and decide on the right approach to deal with it: varying or setting aside.

Are there any other reasons to apply to set aside a CCJ?

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 this could include:

  • The amount they’re asking you to pay has been worked out incorrectly
  • You paid off the debt in full before the judgment
  • The debt was statute barred before the claim was issued. This means the creditor had waited too long to take court action – usually more than six years after you last paid or contacted them

A court usually won’t agree to set aside a CCJ if you received the original claim form and replied to it in time. If you had a defence, you should have brought it up at that point. 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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