How to set aside a CCJ?
This is a question that gets asked a lot by people who dispute the creditor’s claim or weren’t even aware of their CCJ – and we’re here to provide the key details. This guide will explain how some people can get rid of a CCJ using the correct court process.
Not everyone will be able to get a default judgment or CCJ set aside, but by reading on you can assess your own chances and start the process.
What is a County Court Judgment (CCJ)?
A County Court Judgment is a legal decision by a County Court in England or Wales. It is used to order a debtor (a defendant) to pay a company (usually a creditor or utility provider) the money claimed. If they do not pay, the claimant can request that the debt is recovered through enforcement procedure, such as bailiffs.
What is a default judgment?
A default judgment occurs when the claimant serves the defendant with notice that they are taking them to court, but the defendant does not take any action. Sometimes the defendant may think that the problem will go away if they do not act – but that is not the case. Instead, the County Court rules on the case without the defendant making a defence. This is a default judgement.
Of course, this will also happen if the debtor does not defend themself because they are not aware of the claim.
Does a CCJ affect your credit score?
When a CCJ is issued, it is recorded on a public register, unofficially known as the “CCJ register”. This register is used by credit report agencies to update your credit file. Having a CCJ on your credit report can be detrimental to your rating and prevent you from getting further credit in the future, but there are ways to improve your score and access credit again in time.
If you have paid the debt in full within one month of the CCJ being issued, it will not be registered on your credit report.
Can a CCJ be set aside?
It is possible for some people to have their default judgment or CCJ set aside. Setting aside your CCJ means the case will be re-evaluated, so you will need to provide good reasons for the reason in your application to set aside the judgment.
Don’t confuse this with having a CCJ removed from your credit report, which is what happens after six years.
The most successful way of getting a CCJ or default judgment set aside is to prove you were not served notice about the claim before the date of the proceedings. If the claimant did not provide notice of the court proceedings, you may be able to get a judge to set it aside. This may happen if the claimant sent the notice to the wrong address, especially if you moved address around the date of the proceedings.
However, to save on court resources and avoid delaying tactics, you must also have a real prospect of successfully defending the claim. If your application to set aside a judgment does not contain a good reason or a reason why you do not owe the money, then the court will find no reason why the judgment should be set aside.
Another reason why you may get the court to set aside a default judgment or CCJ is that the claimant has not followed the correct process. For example, they may not have given you notice of your arrears using the correct communications, and thus not given you a chance to make a full payment before court action.
And another way you would be successful is if you could prove the debt was Statute Barred when the claim was made. If it was already unenforceable at that time, the claim should never have reached the courts and you shouldn’t have been given an order to pay.
How to set aside a CCJ?
To apply for a CCJ to be set aside, you must complete form N244 and return it to the court. When you fill in the form, you will need to provide the reasons you want the CCJ to be set aside. You should explain why you never replied to the initial claim, which may be because you never received it.
If you need help to fill in this form, there are guidance notes on the UK GOV site or you can contact a charity for a free advice service. Find the notes on this page here.
There is a fee of £255 to apply for the CCj to be set aside, however, if you have a low income, there is financial assistance available to cover this fee through the UK Government.
Where to send Form N244
Form N244 should be provided to you by the court, but there are online versions on the UK GOV website ready for download and printing. You must submit your form to the relevant court with the fee, and you should make multiple copies.
You should inform the claimant that you have done this.
What happens at a hearing to set aside a CCJ?
There will likely be a new court hearing at a local centre to have the judgment set aside. This sounds more formal and scary than it really is.
In most circumstances, this is really just a private room with a judge and an authorised and regulated solicitor working for the claimant. The judge will remain impartial throughout and decide on the outcome.
You may want to search for and contact a solicitor to represent you, but it is not compulsory.
The reason for the hearing is to determine if you as the defendant have a good enough reason to dispute the CCJ and be allowed to defend the CCJ (again). If successful, the judgment is set aside and the case will follow the usual CCJ process with a new chance for you to defend yourself in court.
How long does it take for a CCJ to be set aside?
The length of time it takes for a CCJ to be set aside depends on court availability, especially during and after the pandemic. It could take longer if your case is complicated or there have been other disruptions to the process.
For more information on cancelling a CCJ, search for reliable charities and contact their team for friendly and confidential advice.