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What is a Tomlin order?

For a small number of people, getting a County Court judgment (CCJ) could have serious impact on their job. If you think this may happen, you could apply for a Tomlin Order (a form of consent order). 

A Tomlin order is a way of preventing a CCJ going ahead, if your lender is willing to agree to one.

The Tomlin order process

  1. Your lender applies to the court for a CCJ

  2. You and the lender come to an agreement that the court proceedings will be put on hold or ‘stayed’ indefinitely, as long as you make agreed payments to them

  3. If you miss any payments, the court proceedings resume and you’ll get a CCJ

Should I apply for a Tomlin order?

CCJs can have an impact on some jobs, for example in the financial services sector. In rare cases, some people may find their job is at risk if they get a CCJ. If you have a job like this, a lender may agree to a Tomlin order because they’re more likely to get paid if you keep your job.

The Tomlin order still gives the lender a guarantee that they’ll get paid because they can apply for a CCJ straight away if you don’t pay.

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How do I apply for a Tomlin order?

If you want a Tomlin order you must act quickly, as soon as you receive a County Court claim form in the post. You can only apply for a Tomlin order after the lender has issued a County Court claim, but before the judgment.

Depending how quickly your lender deals with the County Court claim, this means you could have as little as two weeks from receiving the forms.

You need to contact your lender as soon as possible and explain your situation to them. In most cases, the only reason you would need to apply for a Tomlin order is to protect your job. Your lender will probably want to see evidence of this before they’d even consider this option. A copy of your employment contract or similar might be enough to prove the impact of a CCJ on your future earnings.

If the lender agrees, you and the lender will need to draw up and sign an agreement. This will be accompanied with a ‘schedule’ which sets out the payments and other conditions you’re agreeing to. As long as you meet the terms of this agreement, the claim will be put on hold and you won’t get a CCJ.

You must carefully check the terms in the Tomlin order schedule to make sure you understand exactly what you’re agreeing to. It’s a good idea to get the paperwork checked by a solicitor before signing it, though you’ll need to pay for this advice.

Do I need a Tomlin order?

Unless your job is at risk, the disadvantages of a Tomlin order will probably outweigh the advantages. This means for most people, there is little point applying for one.

Advantages of a Tomlin order

As long as you pay the agreed amount, the court claim is put on hold so no CCJ will appear on your credit file or on the public Register of Judgments

The terms of the Tomlin order are confidential between you and your lender

Disadvantages of a Tomlin order

Lenders are under no obligation to agree to a Tomlin order and are often unwilling to even consider it. Tomlin orders are not well known or understood, and by the time they’ve issued a County Court claim, many lenders may be unwilling to offer any further concessions

Lenders may insist on payments at a level you can’t really afford

 There will be extra costs added to your debt.  For example, there may be extra court fees or the lender may charge you for the legal costs of drawing up the agreement

If your circumstances change, it can be hard to alter the Tomlin order instalments. You can only change these if the lender agrees, and the court has no power to intervene. By contrast, CCJ payments can be altered fairly easily by applying to the court

What if a lender refuses a Tomlin order?

A lender might refuse to consider a Tomlin order, or only agree to it at a rate of payment you can’t afford. If you make a complaint about this it’s very unlikely a regulator or ombudsman would decide the lender has acted unfairly, because by the time they’ve started court action you would have had many chances to come to an agreement.

If you can’t agree a Tomlin order the CCJ will almost certainly go ahead. But you can still avoid the CCJ appearing on your credit file and on the public Register of Judgments by paying it off in full within one month of the judgment. 

You can then apply to the court for a certificate of cancellation which will stop the CCJ being added to the Register. This means your employer will not be able to find out about the CCJ from the Register or from your credit file.

If you’re not able to pay the full amount within a month of the judgment, unfortunately the CCJ will be visible on the public register and your credit file, and you’ll need to deal with any consequences of this with your employer.

Help and advice if you've received a CCJ

If you've received paperwork for a CCJ or you're struggling to pay your debts, we can help. We can offer expert advice on the County Court  process and how to deal with a CCJ.

We can also recommend solutions to help you manage your debt problems and give you clear, practical advice about how to deal with your debts.

Use our online debt advice tool to get expert advice now, available 24 hours a day.