If you've recently received a county court judgment (CCJ), you may be concerned about the consequences if it isn't taken off your credit file. County court judgments on your credit record will have a negative effect on your credit rating and could prevent you from obtaining certain financial products.
Anyone with a CCJ on their credit file may find it difficult to get credit, and this could mean struggling to get a mortgage, loan, credit card, or even potentially a contract for a mobile phone. In certain circumstances, it could even have worse consequences - for people in some lines of work, it could result in job loss.
With this in mind, it isn't surprising that so many people wonder how to remove a CCJ from their credit file. The good news is that it is possible to have CCJs removed from your credit report.
Here, we give you some helpful advice about the three ways to remove a CCJ from your credit record.
The first option is to pay the full amount off your CCJ quickly so that the CCJ will be removed from your credit report. The catch to this is that you must pay the CCJ in full within a month of the date of the judgment for it to be removed from the register.
Obviously, this doesn't give you a lot of time to make payment of the entire amount you owe, especially if you're in difficult financial circumstances, which is very likely if you have incurred enough debt to lead to a CCJ court order issued.
A public register of CCJs, orders, and fines is kept by the Registry Trust, and this is updated by the courts each time they issue a CCJ. If you can pay the total debt of the CCJ within a month of the judgement, the court will inform the Registry Trust, and the CCJ will then be immediately removed from the register. It will then be as if no CCJ was ever issued in the first place.
Usually, the claimant (i.e. the creditor that you're paying) will let the court know you've paid the debt you owe to them. Unfortunately, not all companies do this automatically. If they fail to do this, the court will remain unaware, so the Registry Trust won't be updated. This means the CCJ will remain on your credit record. To avoid this happening, you should ask your creditor at the time the money is paid to confirm they've let the court know. This will ensure that the CCJ is completely removed from the public register.
If you discover that your creditor hasn't told the court after you've paid off your debt, all is not lost. You can still inform the courts yourself. There are two ways to do this.
The first is to send a letter to the court letting them know you've paid your debt and send evidence of your payment. It's better, however, to go down a more official route.
You should apply for a Certificate Of Cancellation, which is a more formal option, although not a free one. To do this, you'll need to pay a £15 court fee and send a completed claim form along with proof of payment of the money you owed to the company. The courts will often check with the claimant (the company in question) whether they've received payment in full before issuing your certificate of satisfaction which states that the debt has been satisfied. Then the CCJ will be removed from your credit file, and there will be no further negative consequences to your credit rating.
You may be wondering whether you should pay off the CCJ within one month if you're disputing that you owe the money. It's often better to make payment to the company as soon as possible, especially if the judgement is only a small amount. There is a good reason for this - having a CCJ on your credit file can have serious consequences.
In such cases, it's best to pay but then inform the claimant that:
You're only making payment so the CCJ can be removed from your record,
You're going to try to claim the money back after the CCJ is removed.
Waiting over a month from the date of the judgment before paying won't allow the CCJ to be removed from your record. Instead, the CCJ will be marked as satisfied. This means your CCJ will still be seen on the register. However, any company that carries out a credit check search will also see that the claim has been satisfied, i.e. that you've paid, even if it is within a month. If your CCJ shows as being satisfied, you'll still experience some financial repercussions, but they'll be less severe.
If you wait for six years from the date of the judgement, you'll experience the automatic removal of the CCJ from your credit file. You won't need to take any action yourself. Even if you never pay the debt owed to the companies in question, it'll still be taken off your record.
There's a catch though. Claimants are still permitted to enforce the CCJ and take action for its recovery. That means they could either make an application for an order against your bank account or instruct authorised and regulated bailiffs. Although this isn't ideal, the enforcement action will have no impact on your credit score so long as the CCJ is over six years old.
Waiting may be good advice if your CCJ is almost 6 years old already. But if it's a recent entry into the register, 6 years is a long time to have bad credit.
If your CCJ is a default judgment, a court in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland can decide to set it aside.
A default judgment is made by the courts if the defendant puts in no defence or doesn't acknowledge the claim. County Court Judgements aren't classed as default judgments if you attended the trial, or the court made their decision after your admittance of owing the debt.
A default judgment can only be set aside when good reason can be proved. Some examples include:
The form being posted to the wrong address
Being away from home at the time the papers from the court were sent
You could realistically defend your case
In some cases, you'll need to make a formal application and go to a hearing if you want the court to set your CCJ aside. Should your creditor agree to set aside the CCJ though, this probably won't be required.
The best advice if you want to go down this route is to make an application as quickly as possible, as this is something the court considers when making a setting aside decision.
If your CCJ is set aside, the Registry Trust should be automatically updated by the courts so the CCJ can be removed permanently from your records. Sometimes, though, this doesn't happen. You may then need to send them a reminder. Alternatively, you can get in touch with them yourself, sending evidence of the setting aside of the CCJ. Typically, all the credit reference agencies will be updated by the Registry Trust, but it may take a few days to do this.
Once your CCJ has been taken off your record, credit repair should be your top priority, along with staying out of debt. Credit repair companies can help you with this. It may be best for you to get some free advice about how best to manage your finances going forward to protect your credit score and give yourself the best chance of being able to obtain credit in the future.