Unenforceable Debt – What You Need to Know, Tips, Guide, FAQs & More

Just like everything else in our lives, debts also have a certain life after which they become ‘unenforceable’.

But does that mean that you no longer owe that amount? Or is there some way that your creditors can still enforce it?

If you want to know more about the life of a debt and the courses of action available in such a situation, keep on reading.

What Does it Mean for a Debt to be Unenforceable?

If a creditor waits too long to take court action to recover a debt, under the limitations act 1980, after a certain time the debt becomes ‘unenforceable’ or ‘statute barred’. 

This means that the debt still exists, but the law can be used to stop the creditor from getting a court judgment in order to recover it. 

The exact time before a debt becomes ‘statute barred’ is different depending upon where you are.

How to Tell if a Debt has Become Unenforceable?

When six years have passed since the first default notice or since the first ‘cause of action’, the debt becomes unenforceable and according to the law, it does not exist and cannot be recovered through a court order.


If your debt is in joint names and you have not made a payment during the last six years, that usually means that the debt has become unenforceable. 

One important debt advice is that during or after the time limit, never acknowledge that a debt was owed to your creditor. If you do that in writing, the time limit of six years restarts for you from that minute on and you’ll have to wait for your debt to become unenforceable.

Do All Debts Become Unenforceable After 6 Years?

Credit agreements are of different types. The creditor has six years to chase most unsecured debts but has twelve years for some mortgage shortfalls. 

Let’s discuss different kinds of debts individually to understand their limitation periods:

Personal Injury Claims

If you’ve been in an accident and want compensation for your personal injury, you can go to court against the aggressor in order for him to give you a certain amount of money which can help you in covering the medical costs and any potential wage lost.

The limitation period for personal injury claims is usually 3 years. This means that since the time of the accident, you have three years to seek compensation for the aggressor’s negligence and enter credit agreements for the payment of these dues.

Keep in mind that you can also seek compensation for emotional injury during a traumatic experience. For this, the statute of limitations gives you three years after the knowledge of your injury to recover your debt.

Mortgage Payments

For mortgage credit agreements, the time limit is a bit different. 

If your house is repossessed and you still owe a mortgage payment, the time limitation for the recovery is six years for the interest on the mortgage; and twelve years for the main amount.

HMRC Debts

For HMRC credit agreements, legal action could be taken by the HMRC within 20 years (5 years in some cases). This means that you can be contacted by a debt collector within 20 years of the acknowledgement of your debt. 

If you want the exact information relevant to your experience, you should ask a lawyer about this and explain your circumstances to him. Usually, he’ll give you free debt advice and tell you the time limit that applies to the debt that you owe. 

consumer credit act 1974

How Long Before a Debt is Written Off in the UK?

For most types of loans, the debt is written off after 6 years. However, it takes longer for your consumer credit file to be cleared. Your consumer credit is usually written off after 7 years of the late repayment of your dues. 

Can You Still be Chased for Debt After 6 Years?

Yes, if the court has already issued a court order for your debt, there’s no time limit for your creditor to enforce that order. Your creditor can take as long as he/she wants to enforce the order and force you to pay him his dues back. 

If it has been six years since the court order was issued, the creditor has to get permission from the court before they can use bailiffs. 

Keep in mind that if at some point in these six years you acknowledge the fact that you owe a certain amount to your creditor and the creditor somehow gets it in writing, he can still go after you and get an order issued from court through which you have to pay the debt.

However, if it has been six years since the last acknowledgement of your debt, you are on free ground again and you probably cannot be chased for the money that you owed. 

Whatever the case is, it is important to get proper information relevant to your experience.

To obtain this information and the time limits applied to your specific debt, contact a law officer as soon as you can who can help you with this. Gain surety on this because a company coming after you to get back their consumer credit can be a dreadful and hectic experience.

How Do You Clear a Debt That’s Not Even Yours?

If a debt isn’t yours, you can file a dispute claim to make sure the creditor doesn’t come after you. Make sure you take action on a debt validation letter within 30 days because if you take longer than that, the creditor can move forward with the collecting process.

If a collector is calling you about your dues, request validation right away and get ready to prepare proof that the debt isn’t yours and they might have made a mistake.

Learn more about disputing debts here.

Settling Debts with a CCA Agreement

If the collector who is contacting you cannot produce the Consumer Credit Act agreement, it is likely that the debt is unenforceable. 

Remember, debts that cannot be enforced are only protected from court action; the bad debt is still going on your credit report.

If you want to settle the debt, you have to negotiate. If the collector cannot produce the agreement, you don’t have to pay your dues. However, if you want to strike the bad history off your credit report, you could offer a percentage of the original amount to be paid.

If eventually the CCA agreement is found but the six years time bar has been passed, you can again offer a percentage of the original amount as compensation and tell the collector to remove this late payment entirely from your credit report. 

To convince them, you have to provide information about why you couldn’t pay your dues on time and information regarding your current financial status. If they find this information convincing enough, only then will they write off your unpaid dues from your credit report.

How to Pay Off Debt?

Paying off your dues can be a complicated process because the expenses accumulate very fast considering the interest on your dues and the additional payment. Keep in mind that you always have several options to clear your dues effectively.

Firstly, you can request the payment of your dues in monthly instalments. This provides an easy path for you to pay off the money you owe. Moreover, simple tricks like paying your highest debt first go a long way in eventually clearing your dues with ease. 

Additionally, allocate any work bonuses towards the payment of the loan to lessen the blow for you. Selling unwanted gifts and household items also help in paying back your dues. 

Keep in mind that this situation in which the creditor forgets about your debt arises rarely and does not happen often. What happens often is a bad credit history and constant calls and headache from the collectors wanting to recover their money. This can get very annoying.

It doesn’t stop there, court action is a swift way for the debt collector to seize your assets and put them up against your loan. It is important that you clear your dues on time so that no further inconvenience occurs.

FAQs – Everything You Should Know About Uncollectible Debts

What is ‘Statute of Limitation’?

The statute of limitation gives you a timeframe in which certain laws are applicable. These laws are only applicable up to a certain time limit.

When does the limitation period for unsecured debts start?

The limitation period starts on the day of acknowledgement or the day on which the last payment was made.

Can debt collectors pressurize me over a statute barred debt? 

No, debt collectors aren’t even allowed to pretend that a debt still stands after the limitation period is over and it becomes statute barred. 

If you want a settlement to prevent them from altering your credit report, you can convince them and offer a percentage of the original amount.

Can my creditors take court action against me for uncollectible debt?

No, after the limitation period ends, no court action can be taken.

Can I ask creditors to write of my debt?

Yes, you can offer settlement and pay a percentage of the total amount as compensation. However, this method involves a lot of explaining and convincing to do.

A Quick Recap

A credit agreement should be settled within the specified timeframe. A delay can only cause additional problems for you.

I’m sure you never want to be on the wrong end of the sword and have an uncollectible debt just because you were too late to take any action, so make sure that you take timely action.

If you want additional information, you can reach out any time you want. I’d be glad to help!


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