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A checklist to Help You Deal with County Court Judgments (CCJs)

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What can you do if you receive a CCJ?

According to recent statistics (1), the number of debt judgments against consumers in England and Wales rose slightly during the first quarter of 2016 to 220,832 CCJs. That’s a lot of debt and a lot of heartache especially when you consider that the average debt for CCJs is £1,793.

If you have received a CCJ, you might take some comfort from the fact that you’re not alone. But, if you want to avoid further aggro, expense and possible damage to your credit rating, you need to take action – and fast.

Has the CCJ come “out of the blue”

If the CCJ seems to have come out of the blue, the judgment will probably have been entered “in default”. This means that you or one of your colleagues must have received a money claim document that has been missed or ignored.

The procedures for making a money claim are governed by the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) and are very strict – you must take action as laid out in the CPR. In summary:

  • the claimant issues proceedings at court and serves the claim on you, the defendant;
  • the general rule is that you have 14 days after formal service of the “particulars of claim” to file an acknowledgement of service form with the court; 
  • if the acknowledgement of service is filed, you then have 28 days after service to file your Defence.

If you do not acknowledge service of the claim or serve a defence in the required time, the CPR allow the claimant to enter judgment against you ‘in default”.

If the claimant has already entered judgment against you, is there anything you can do?

If you or your company have received a CCJ entered in default, consider carefully whether you have a valid defence to the claim. If yes, you could apply to the court for an order to "set aside" (cancel) the judgment. 

But, to obtain that court order … you must act promptly.

A court must set aside a CCJ entered in default if the judgment was entered wrongly either because:

  • judgment was entered too soon (if, for example, the time for filing your acknowledgement of service or defence had not expired); or
  • you had already satisfied the whole of the claim before the judgment was entered – in other words – you’ve already paid up.

(See CPR 13.2).

You therefore need to check whether the claimant has complied with the procedure under CPR before entering judgment. If they have not, the default judgment may be irregular and could be set aside. 

A checklist - what do I do next?

Here are some important steps to take:

  1. Check whether the claim form was served validly in accordance with the CPR. 
  2. Check whether the claimant has complied with the CPR when serving the claim.
  3. Even if the claimant has complied with the CPR, the court may still use its discretion to set aside or vary a judgment entered by default if:
    • you have a real prospect of successfully defending the claim; or
    • there is some other good reason why judgment should be set aside or varied; or
    • you should be allowed to defend the claim (CPR Part 13.3).
  4. The court, in exercising their discretion, must consider whether you have made the application to set aside the judgment aside promptly.

You should always act quickly if you served with a CCJ made in default. Failing to do so could mean you will have to comply with the terms of the judgment.

How can we help?

If you or your business have had a CCJ entered against you in default, our Commercial Litigation team can help you weigh up your options, we have a great success rate in this area of the law and a specialist team on hand to help out.

Contact Christopher Burke on 0161 785 3500 or email him at christopher.burke@pearsonlegal.co.uk or on 0161 684 6946 or make an enquiry.

(1) Registry Trust Limited, Public Statistics, March 2016

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.