County Court action

​County Court and debts

If you fall behind on payments to a creditor and cannot reach an agreement to pay the debt back, they may make a claim through the County Court to get a county court judgment (CCJ) against you.

Information:

not able to pay

It is not a criminal offence to have a CCJ and you cannot be sent to prison for not being able to pay.

Non-priority creditors use the County Court. The following are some of the most common non-priority debts.

  • Unsecured business and personal loans
  • Business and personal credit cards
  • Store cards
  • Charge cards
  • Catalogues
  • Payday loans
  • Doorstep-collected loans

Information:

who makes the final decision?

The final decision about how much you should pay back each month is taken by the court, even if the creditor wants a higher amount.

When County Court action is taken against you, you will get court forms which you should reply to and say what you can afford to pay. The County Court should consider your circumstances and your income and outgoings before making a decision about how the debt should be paid back.

 

 

Disputing the debt

You may want to dispute some or all of the amount claimed by your creditor. For example, there may be a fault with the goods you were supplied. If you want to dispute the amount claimed, contact us for advice.

 

 

Further action creditors can take

See our fact sheet:

County Court - charging orders.

If your creditor applied for a CCJ against you on or after 1 October 2012, they can apply to secure the debt against any property you own, even if you have not missed payments on the CCJ.
 
If you miss payments on a CCJ, the creditor can take other types of action against you through the County Court, which could include: 

Extra advice:

limited companies

If a debt is in a limited company name, court action can only be taken against the limited company. This means that limited company assets are at risk if the debt is not paid. Action cannot be taken against personal assets.

 

  • taking regular deductions from your wages if you are employed, called an ‘attachment of earnings order’:
  • freezing money in your bank account, called a ‘third party debt order’; and
  • using bailiffs to take control of your goods.

Priority debt

Sometimes County Court procedures can be used by priority creditors

County Court action and mortgage debt

  • If you own your own home, your mortgage or secured lender could make a claim in the County Court to repossess your property if you fall behind with payments on your mortgage or secured loan.
  • If you own your own business premises, your mortgage lender may choose to make a claim in the County Court to repossess  your property if you fall behind with payments on your business mortgage or business secured loan. If the agreement allows, they may choose not to use court action, and instruct Law of Property Act receivers instead.

Business mortgage

County Court action and rent

  • If you rent your home, your landlord could make a County Court claim to end your tenancy if you fall behind with rent payments.

See our fact sheet:

Business property leases.

  • If you rent your business premises, your business landlord can end your lease or use bailiffs to take control of your goods without taking court action. They may also choose to recover any rent arrears you owe by making a claim in the County Court for a CCJ.

Household rent arrears

For more information about how to deal with rent arrears, see our detailed Household rent arrears fact sheet.

This fact sheet covers the following areas.

  • What type of tenancy do I have?
  • Housing Benefit.
  • What if my landlord increases my rent?
  • How can I pay off my rent arrears?
  • My landlord is refusing to agree to my offer.
  • What if my landlord takes court action?
  • Eviction - what can I do?

Household mortgage arrears

For more information about how to deal with mortgage arrears, see our detailed Household mortgage arrears fact sheet.

This fact sheet covers the following areas.

  • Coming to an arrangement with your lender.
  • What to do if you can't afford your mortgage.
  • What if my home is worth less than the mortgage?
  • Second mortgages or secured loans.
  • What if my mortgage lender takes me to court?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

County Court action and tax debt

See our fact sheet:

Income tax debt.

Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) can use the County Court to make a claim for a CCJ for any tax and National Insurance you owe. They do not need to make a claim in the County Court before using bailiffs to take control of your goods.

If HMRC want to make you bankrupt, they will always use the High Court to make this type of application.

County Court action and hire-purchase or conditional-sale debt

If you fall behind with payments on a hire-purchase or conditional-sale agreement, the lender could make a County Court claim to repossess the goods. 

 

 

County Court action and your credit reference file

A county court judgment will be recorded on your credit reference file for six years. This will make it difficult and more expensive for you to get further credit.

 

Fact sheets for further help

We have a range of fact sheets that give you more information about County Court action.

Fact sheet library