Debt over 10 years old in the UK – Can You Be Chased? Laws
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Debts and debt collectors get quite a lot of bad press nowadays. They often use quite forceful methods to get you to pay up, and while these can be a bit distressing, it can be argued that we all must pay our debts.
That being said, there will be moments when we let our debts slip from our minds – and sometimes forget about them completely. You also might not even know you had a debt, as the creditor may not even contact you until sometime later.
We take a look at debt over 10 years old, and what to do if you’ve been contacted about this.
Don’t worry, here’s what to do!
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Paying your debts over 10 years old
While we all should pay the debts we make, there are some specific pieces of legislation in place that might mean we don’t have to pay. As you can imagine, there are all sorts of different rules and regulations surrounding debts and debt collectors, and it can be tricky to keep tabs on.
Most of the time, you’ll be required to repay the debt you owe, and the sooner you do this, the better. There are, however, a few different circumstances that might mean you don’t have to pay the debt at all. Debts that are over 10 years old come into play as well, so read on to find out what to do.
Debts you’re not responsible for
There are certain rules surrounding debts that might mean you do not have to pay up.
For instance, if there was a problem when you signed the agreement, like if you might have been pressured into signing it or the agreement itself wasn’t clear, you may not have to pay the debt if you can prove that this occurred.
Similarly, if the creditor didn’t check if you could afford the repayments when you signed the agreement, then you won’t have to pay. But what do you do if your debt is over 10 years old?
‘Statute-barred’ – Debts over 6 years old
If a creditor takes too long to recover the debt you owe or doesn’t contact you in a set amount of time, the debt becomes what’s known as statute-barred. Normally, this is if your debt is over 6 years old. This means that it can no longer be recovered through court action.
Effectively, the debt is written off – however, technically it still exists. For a debt to become statute-barred, it takes a bit of time. So if you have a debt over 10 years old, it may well be statute-barred. There are, however, certain rules surrounding this too.
Can I be chased for debt after 10 years?
If you know for certain that your debt is statute-barred, then it means that your debt collector can longer take you to court and force you to pay it. Additionally, the FCA has stated that they think it is “unfair” for debt collectors to continue to chase you for debt once it is statute-barred. So in most circumstances, if the debt can be shown to be statute-barred, then your debt collector will no longer contact you about it.
There are caveats to this. For example, if you owe debts to the DWP or HMRC they can actually deduct money directly from your wages, regardless of whether the debt is statute-barred or not. This is called a direct earnings attachment.
Here, we’ll go into some detailed responses to some of the more commonly asked questions about debts over 10 years old.
- the creditor has not started a county court claim for the debt,
- if you haven’t made a payment towards the debt in the last 6 years,
- or you have not written to the creditor admitting you owe the debt during the last six years.
- Mortgage shortfalls – these have a longer limitation period of 12 years, with an interest limitation of 6 years
- Personal injury claims – these have a much shorter limitation period, of only 3 years
- Income tax, VAT and HMRC debts – these types of debt don’t have a limitation period, so HMRC could take you to court for your debt that is over 10 years old
- Court Judgment – if the creditor has already started to get a court order before the limitation period is over, the debt can never become statute-barred
At the end of the day, it depends on who you owe the debt to as to what to do next if you have a debt over 10 years old.
It can be a confusing thing to get a letter from a creditor about a debt you would have forgotten about, but if you are active and you gather all the right information, there’s a chance that you won’t have to pay them.