What is a CCJ and how does it affect your credit score?

A CCJ (county court judgment) on your credit file could affect your application for a credit card, loan or other personal finance. So what are CCJs and what can you do about them? Here’s what you need to know.

A CCJ (county court judgment) on your credit file could affect your application for a credit card, loan or other personal finance. So what are CCJs and what can you do about them? Here’s what you need to know.

Written by
Alex Hasty
Insurance comparison and finance expert
5 AUGUST 2022
5 min read
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What is a CCJ? 

CCJs are court orders that formalise debt.

They are issued in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, there is an equivalent judgement called a decree.

When someone goes to court and says that you owe them money, a CCJ is issued if the court agrees that you’re in debt to that person or company.

How do CCJs work? 

CCJs mean that creditors have more power to recover money you owe them. With a CCJ, how and when to pay your outstanding balance is decided by the court, rather than between you and the company you owe money to.

It also means that the debt becomes a public matter. A CCJ is put on the Register of Judgements, Orders and Fines, a public database, and stays there for six years – even if it’s been paid off before that time.

There’s an exception to this rule though. If you pay off a CCJ within 30 days of receiving it, you can get it removed from the register. If you pay it off after the one month mark, it will still appear in the register but it’ll be marked as ‘satisfied’.

After six years it will be removed from the register, whether or not it’s been paid off.

What problems do CCJs cause? 

Aside from the debt itself, a CCJ can create problems with borrowing money in the future.

A CCJ is added to your credit report and will lower your credit score. Lenders, such as banks, mortgage providers and even mobile phone companies, will check your credit information when they’re deciding whether to lend to you. So a CCJ can seriously impact your ability to borrow, especially if it brings your score down to a very low level.

Because they’re publicly available, CCJs are also visible to potential employers and landlords, so they could affect job applications or being able to rent a property.

CCJs, defaults and late payments – what’s the difference? 

Being in any kind of debt can affect your credit rating, but the effect depends on what kind of information the credit reference agency has received. Late payments, defaults and CCJs are different kinds of information about debt that you might see on your credit report. 

  • Late payments 
    Late payments appear on your credit report when a company tells the credit reference agencies you’ve failed to make a payment on time. It affects your credit score but has less impact than a default or CCJ. The effect reduces over time, according to Experian – so, for example, a late payment five years ago will have less impact than one last month.
  • Defaults
    A company tells the credit reference agencies that you’ve missed multiple payments and they’ve closed your account. Like a CCJ, a default stays on your credit file for six years, whether or not you’ve paid it off during that time. However, your default could still escalate to a CCJ so it’s important to pay it off as soon as you can, even if it’s been removed from your file.

  • CCJs
    Like defaults and late payments, CCJs have a long-lasting impact on your credit rating. When a court issues a CCJ, the creditors and court can use additional measures, such as bailiffs or deductions from your earnings, to collect the money that’s owed.

How long does a CCJ last? 

A CCJ lasts for six years before it is removed from the public register and your credit file.

How to find out if you have a CCJ 

searching the official register. You can find out if you have a CCJ by:

  • Checking the Register of Judgements, Orders and Fines or the Scottish Register, via TrustOnline. There’s a small fee for access
  • Checking your credit report.

What should you do if you get a CCJ?

When you get a CCJ, you should receive a letter or email telling you how much you owe and how you should pay it back. This might mean paying it off straight away or paying in instalments.

If the instalments aren’t manageable, you could ask for them to be changed (which is called ‘varying’ the judgement) so that you pay less often or in smaller amounts.

How do I remove a CCJ from my credit file? 

Remember, you can prevent a CCJ from going into the register – and therefore into your credit file – by paying it off within one month. Once it’s on the register, it will stay on your credit file for six years, whether or not you have finished paying it off.

If you think your CCJ is wrong and should be removed sooner, you can ask for it to be cancelled, or ‘set aside,’ by applying to the court. You can do this if you don’t owe the money or if you haven’t received the notice or been able to respond to it in time.

You’ll need to attend a hearing to explain why you don’t owe the money or why the judgment is wrong, and you may have to pay a £275 court fee.

Frequently asked questions

What happens if you don’t pay off a CCJ?

If you don’t pay off your CCJ, your creditor could ask the court to force you to do so. This might be done by:

  • Taking bailiff action against you
  • Issuing a charging order, which secures the debt against your home
  • Issuing an attachment or earnings order, which will take the money from your wages.

Can I still get credit if I have a CCJ?

If you have a poor credit score because of a CCJ, you may have more difficulty getting loans, credit cards or other forms of finance, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Bad credit loans are available. And you could apply for a credit builder card, which, if used responsibly, could help your credit score recover.

Can I repair my credit score if I have a CCJ?

A CCJ will reduce your credit score during the six years it’s on your credit file. But you could benefit from other factors that affect your score, such as paying bills on time and making sure your name is on the electoral roll.

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