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National Debtline

Advice you can trust

Court action

When creditors take court action

If you fall behind with payments on your debts and are unable to make arrangements to repay them, creditors may take court action against you. Court action is often the first step for creditors to take further enforcement action to get their money back.

Court types

  • Different types of court action are used to recover different types of debt.
  • If court action is taken against you, it is very important to know which types of court you are dealing with.
  • This page gives a brief description of different types of court so you can find out more.
  • If you are still unsure which type of court you are dealing with, contact us for advice.


County Court

  • This is a civil court and  it is not a criminal matter if a creditor takes County Court action against you.
  • This court can be used to recover unsecured debts such as unsecured business and personal loans, overdrafts and credit cards.
  • The County Court can also be used to recover priority debts such as secured business and personal debts.

High Court

  • The High Court is part of the Supreme Court, which is based at the Royal Courts of Justice in Central London and in 'District Registries' of the High Court in larger towns.
  • Sometimes debt cases can be dealt with in the High Court, but special rules apply.
  • It is not a criminal offence for a creditor to take action against you in the High Court.

Magistrates' court

  • The magistrates' court issues fines for criminal offences, such as speeding or not having a TV licence.
  • The court has a range of actions it can take. Also, you could go to prison if you do not pay.
  • It can also be used in the process of enforcing some debts such as business rates and council tax.