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i The advice on this page applies to residents of Northern Ireland only.

Court action in Northern Ireland to collect debt

If you can’t pay your creditors they may decide to take legal or court action against you to recover the amount you owe. This is only done as a last resort.

If legal action is undertaken, most types of unsecured debt, such as credit cards, personal loans and store cards, will be dealt with through the County Court. If your debt is less than £3,000 your creditor may use the County Court's small claim process.

However, there are some exceptions. For example, debts over £30,000 or mortgage proceedings will usually be dealt with in the High Court.

Civil bills and County Court judgments

If your creditor wants to obtain a County Court judgment (CCJ) against you, the first step they’ll take is to issue you with a civil bill. The bill outlines the amount owed and reason for the claim.

Once you've received a bill, you'll need to respond as quickly as possible by either paying in full, or contacting your creditor and arranging time to pay.

What happens if I can’t pay?

If you do nothing, the creditor can pass the CCJ onto the Enforcement of Judgement Office (EJO) to collect the money. The EJO has several ways they can collect the money and there will be additional charges added to your debt.

If you’re struggling or finding it difficult to pay the CCJ, or any other debts, we’re here to offer you expert help and advice on your available options. 

In this section:

  1. The Enforcement of Judgments Office
  2. Small claims court
  3. County Court judgments