Debt can be a difficult subject to broach, and people sometimes try to hide the extent of their financial problems from their family and friends. However, there’s no hiding from a County Court Judgment or CCJ as it will automatically go out to credit agencies.
Your credit rating will be negatively impacted by a CCJ as few lenders will agree to let you take on a new loan or get a credit card as you will be perceived to be “higher risk”, so higher rates of interest will be charged to offset that risk.
Fortunately, it’s not common for employers to run credit checks against prospective employees. However, working within the financial services sector, for instance, requires a “fit and proper” test. In this industry, employers will check credit files to make sure there you have a pristine credit rating and that you are not a high-risk person who can’t manage their finances or commit to an undertaking, for example, pay a bill. The theory also suggests that people who are in debt are more likely to do something dishonest to get yourself out of debt.
All CCJs are recorded on the Register of Orders Judgments and Fines. They stay on your credit file or record for six years from the date of judgment. If you are able to pay the debt within a month, the judgment is removed from the register and it’s as if it had never been entered. However, if you fail to pay within a month, the judgment will be marked as satisfied but will remain on the public register for six years. This is why it is crucial to respond quickly to a CCJ as anyone can access the register for a small fee to find out whether you have a CCJ. If the debt is left unpaid, the judgement is marked as unsatisfied and will only drop off your credit file after six years.
What is the Process for Setting Aside a CCJ?
This process will remove the CCJ from the register and your credit file. In short, your prospective employer won’t be able to find out about it and it won’t affect your job prospects.
In certain cases, you can apply to have a CCJ set aside when it’s a “default judgment”. These types of judgments are handed down in specific situations, for instance, when the defendant fails to defend the creditor’s claim or even to acknowledge it. In a similar vein, you can apply to have the judgment set aside if you didn’t attend the hearing, but there must be a good reason for the absence. For instance, the claim form may have been sent to the wrong address so you didn’t receive it or have the opportunity to pay the debt within a month.
If you can demonstrate to the Court that you can defend the claim successfully, then you can try to have the CCJ set aside. To begin the process, you will need to use application form N244, which must be supported by a witness statement along with a draft defence. You will also need to attend the hearing.
If you are successful and the judgment is set aside, it will be removed from the register immediately as if it had never been entered. When exercising its discretion to set aside a CCJ, the Court always considers whether you made the application promptly. For that reason alone, it’s crucial to act quickly once you know that a CCJ has been registered against you and not bury your head in the hands so that you have the best chance of having the CCJ set aside.
If you’ve received a CCJ for your business and would like more information about the process and what you can do have the judgment set aside, please call 08000 746 757 or email [email protected] for free and confidential advice from one of our professional advisers.