If you’ve just discovered a CCJ that you knew nothing about, the most likely explanation is that all the court papers were sent to a previous address.
When moving house, there’s so much to think about and it’s easy to forget to update everyone with your new contact details. However, this could have disastrous consequences if someone thinks you owe them money. It could lead to a court judgment against you, even though you had no opportunity to defend yourself or respond.
If you’ve been told there’s a CCJ on your credit file, you need to act promptly. You should take the following steps straight away.
Obtain a copy of your credit report
You can obtain a copy of your credit file for free, using an online service, such as:
Although credit checks from other agencies can potentially have a detrimental impact on your credit rating, checking your own credit report does not. So, feel free to check as often as you need to.
The credit report will give you some vital information about the CCJ. In particular, it will tell you:
- The name of the court that issued the CCJ
- The claim number
- The date of the CCJ
- The amount of the CCJ
Once you’ve got this information, you can obtain the rest of the details from the court.
Contact the Court
Most CCJ’s are issued by the County Court Business Centre. Click here for their full contact details.
If the CCJ was issued by a different court, you can find their contact details here.
I recommend phoning them at first. Let them know the claim number and they will be able to locate your file straight away. You should ask them to provide you with the following information by email:
- The address to which the claim form was posted
- The identity of the claimant
- The date of service of the claim form
- The identity of the claimant’s solicitors (if any)
- The particulars of claim
Get legal advice
When you have obtained all of that information, you will be in a good position to get legal advice on your prospects of having the CCJ removed.
Help your solicitor to help you by providing all of the case details listed above, as well as information about any changes of address around the date of the CCJ.
Your solicitor will then be able to advise you on:
- your prospects of successfully having the judgment set aside
- any weaknesses in your case and how these can be addressed
- the legal and practical steps that need to be taken next
How likely is it that the CCJ will be removed?
If a court sets aside a CCJ, it will automatically be removed from your credit history. But how likely is it that a court will set it aside?
There are a number of issues a court may need to address:
Was the Claim Form correctly served?
In most claims, a claimant is required to ensure that the claim form is served on the defendant. The claim form is the document that sets out what is being claimed and why.
To serve the claim form means to take certain steps, required by the court rules, to bring the claim form to the defendant’s attention.
The court rules require that the claim form be served by posting it to the usual or last known residence of the defendant.
If you can show that the claimant knew or ought to have known that you had changed address, then the claim form will be deemed not to have been served. This means that the CCJ is irregular and the court must set it aside.
However, if the claimant had no reason to believe you had moved, then the claim form was probably correctly served, even if it was sent to an old address. It may not be your current address but, from the claimant’s point of view, it is the ‘usual or last known’ residence.
In these circumstances, the claim form was correctly served and the CCJ is valid.
What can you do if the claim form was correctly served?
Even if the claim form was correctly served and CCJ is valid, a court can still set aside a CCJ in certain circumstances. You need to show either:
- you would have had a good defence to the original claim; or
- there is some other good reason for setting aside the CCJ
Examples of ‘some other good reason’ include:
- The fact that you didn’t know about the claim because it was sent to a previous address
- The CCJ is having a detrimental impact on your ability to obtain credit
- The CCJ is putting your job at risk
Make sure you take steps promptly because any delay could lead to the court deciding not to set aside the CCJ.
Will the claimant consent to the CCJ being removed?
Ultimately, only a court can order that a CCJ be set aside. Often, this means you need to make an application and attend a hearing to give evidence.
However, if the claimant consents to judgment being set aside, a court hearing will not usually be necessary. Instead, you and the claimant sign a document called a consent order and send it to the court. Usually (but not always) the court will endorse the consent order.
Once the CCJ is set aside, it will be removed from your credit history. It will be as though it was never issued in the first place.