What is a County Court Judgment (CCJ) and options for Enforcement?

What is a County Court Judgment (CCJ) and Options for Enforcement?

A County Court Judgment (CCJ) is a legal ruling issued by a county court in favour of a creditor against an individual or a business that fails to repay a debt. County Court Judgments (CCJs) have significant implications for both the debtor and the creditor. This article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of what a CCJ entails, how it is obtained, and the various options available to enforce it.

For the record we are not Solicitors and therefore we cannot directly undertake reserved legal activity on your behalf however we do have partnerships with Law Firms who we would use as they complement our business.

In this article, we'll talk about the factors that will dictate the reasons you will need to consider before starting the process of getting a County Court Judgments (CCJ) and the Enforcement options available to you, the questions you should be asking when deciding which one to use and a high level explanation. And by the time you're done reading this, not only will you have a clear sense for the process, but you'll finally be on that path of getting your debt recovered –and be well informed! Let's dive in.

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What is a County Court Judgment (CCJ)?

A County Court Judgment (CCJ) is a court order issued by a county court in England or Wales. It is a legal ruling that states a debtor's liability to repay a debt owed to a creditor. County Court Judgments (CCJs) are primarily used for outstanding financial obligations, such as goods or services provided but not paid, unpaid bills, loans, rent, credit card debts. Once a County Court Judgment (CCJ) is granted, it becomes a matter of public record and can significantly impact a person's or company’s creditworthiness. It is listed on the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines for a period of up to six years making it difficult to obtain mainstream credit. If a County Court Judgment (CCJ) is paid within one calendar month of the date it was obtained, then the County Court Judgment (CCJ) can be removed entirely from the Register. If the County Court Judgment (CCJ) is paid after one calendar month of the date it was obtained, then it will stay on the Register for six years, but it will show as ‘Satisfied’, this is slightly better from a creditworthiness perspective as it shows that whilst a creditor had to obtain a County Court Judgment (CCJ), it was ultimately paid. Finally, if no payment of the County Court Judgment (CCJ) is made then, it will show as ‘Unsatisfied’ on the Register for up to six years.

Obtaining a County Court Judgment (CCJ):

There are two ways of doing this… To obtain a County Court Judgment (CCJ), a creditor may instruct a 3rd party such as us or they can do it themselves but either way the party taking the action must follow a specific legal process. It is very important at this stage that the creditor has followed and complied with the correct Pre-Action Protocol. It is also very important that the legal entity, address, debt amount for the debtor is listed correctly before any claim is issued as this could lead to future complications and having to amend proceedings which comes at a further cost. The process begins with the creditor or legal representative filing a claim with the county court, outlining the details of the debt owed. The court then serves a copy of the claim to the debtor, who is given the opportunity to respond within a specified timeframe. If the debtor fails to respond or disputes the claim, the court may issue a County Court Judgment (CCJ) in favour of the creditor. In cases where the debtor acknowledges the debt but cannot pay in full, the court may issue a County Court Judgment (CCJ) by Instalments with an agreed repayment plan.

Consequences of a County Court Judgment (CCJ):

A County Court Judgment (CCJ) can have several implications for both the debtor and the creditor. For debtors, a County Court Judgment (CCJ) negatively affects their credit rating, making it difficult to obtain future credit or secure loans. It can also lead to increased difficulties in renting accommodation or acquiring certain job positions. Creditors, on the other hand, can use the County Court Judgment (CCJ) as a tool to enforce repayment. It provides legal backing for various enforcement options.

Options for Enforcing a County Court Judgment (CCJ):

Once a County Court Judgment (CCJ) is obtained, there are several enforcement options available to the creditor, depending on the debtor's financial circumstances. These include:

  • Warrant of Control: A warrant of control allows enforcement agents (previously known as bailiffs) to visit the debtor's premises and seize goods to cover the debt. The seized goods are typically sold at auction, and the proceeds go towards repaying the debt.
  • Writ of Control: Similar to a Warrant of Control but instead using High Court Enforcement Officers. A Writ of Control can only be used once the County Court Judgment (CCJ) has been transferred up to the High Court and can only be used on non-consumer regulated debts and or County Court Judgments (CCJs) more than £600.00.
  • Attachment of Earnings: If the debtor is employed, the creditor can apply for an Attachment of Earnings Order. This allows the court to order the debtor’s employer to deduct a portion of the debtor's wages and pay it directly into court to satisfy the County Court Judgment (CCJ).
  • Charging Order: A charging order places a legal charge on the debtor's property, usually their home. If the property is sold, the debt must be repaid from the proceeds of the sale assuming there is sufficient equity. In some cases, the creditor may apply for an Order of Sale to force the sale of the property.
  • Third-Party Debt Order: A Third-Party Debt Order allows the court to freeze funds held by a third party, such as a bank.
  • Order to Obtain Information: If the creditor has limited knowledge of the debtor's assets, an Order to Obtain Information can be sought. This compels the debtor to provide details of their finances, allowing the creditor to explore other enforcement options. If the debtor does not comply with the order, then they can be sentenced to imprisonment for up to 14 days for contempt of court.
  • Bankruptcy or Insolvency: If the debt is substantial and the debtor is unable to pay, the creditor can petition for bankruptcy (for individuals) or winding-up (for companies) proceedings. These processes involve the court-appointed Official Receiver, Trustee or Liquidator to liquidate the debtor's assets to repay creditors.

Conclusion: In summary, a County Court Judgment (CCJ) is a legal ruling issued by a county court against a debtor who fails to repay a debt. It has serious consequences for the debtor's creditworthiness and can limit their financial options. Creditors, on the other hand, have several enforcement options available to recover the debt, such as warrants/writs of control, attachment of earnings, charging orders, and third-party debt orders. Understanding the implications and available options associated with a County Court Judgment (CCJ) is crucial for both debtors and creditors in navigating the legal landscape surrounding debt repayment. Obviously, it makes sense to pick the enforcement option that is most likely to get the a County Court Judgment (CCJ) paid.

Which Enforcement Option should I use?

The answer to this question really depends on the circumstances of each debt and the claimants needs. For instance, the High Court Enforcement process is usually a lot quicker than obtaining a Charging Order however if you want to ensure you debt becomes secured, assuming the debtor owns their property, then you will want to obtain a Charging Order first or you could do both at the same time but obviously this will increase the amount of costs payable.

If you know the judgment debtors’ employers’ details and you know that the judgment debtor has very little in assets, then an Attachment of Earnings will be more appropriate.

You may wish to consider going down the insolvency route which would involve either making an individual bankrupt or winding up a company.

And the list goes on…As you can see, each debt is unique, and the correct course of action will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

At Athena Collections, we look at each case based on its own merit and depending on the circumstances of each case an appropriate recommendation will be made along with our reasoning. Ultimately you may decide to choose an alternative route but as long as you have all the information available to you then this will allow you to make an informed decision, whether it may be a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) or any other enforcement method.

High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEO) versus Debt Collection Agency? We will cover this in a separate article which you can find here

If you want further information about how we can possibly help, then fill in the form below and one of our representatives will contact you to discuss your requirements.

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Call Athena Collections for CCJ Enforcement

For County Court Enforcement Offices call Athena Collections on 0203 865 9319 ☎️ or use our simple online contact form. Our experienced independently 5⭐ rated CCJ Enforcers Team can assist you with any CCJ Enforcement requirements, so please do not hesitate to contact our team on 0203 865 9319.


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