It is certainly not advisable to ignore a CCJ as this can have a long-term impact on your credit rating. However, a CCJ is a civil matter and not a criminal offence; therefore, there is no need to worry about being sent to prison. That won’t happen!
A CCJ is a court order, and so if you ignore it, the courts will enforce action to recover the debt, including sending bailiffs to your home. Your wages can also be arrested to repay the money you owe.
County Court Judgements are civil actions brought by your creditors, seeking repayment of funds which they believe they are owed. You are not breaking the law, the police will not get involved, and you won’t serve time.
It is very easy to get confused when it comes to criminal law and civil law with CCJs often misunderstood.
Continue reading to get all the details on CCJs and how you should deal with one.
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The first thing to remember is that the issue of a CCJ will not be the first time that the creditor has tried to contact you to arrange payment of an outstanding debt, or an alternative arrangement. Ignorance, burning correspondence, binning the letters and just burying your head in the sand is not the answer.
Once the wheels have been set in motion, you will have to respond to any CCJs against you.
The simple answer is, yes, if you simply choose to ignore the CCJ paperwork after the court date, then bailiffs can look to seize goods. There is an array of different regulations which cover bailiffs such as forced entry, etc. You may also find that the courts/creditors will seek to have your wages arrested which can be embarrassing.
It is also worth noting that where bailiffs and additional court costs are incurred because you chose to ignore a CCJ case, you will be expected to pick up the additional charges. In no way, shape or form should you ignore the threat of a pending CCJ. Take action and protect yourself and your credit rating!
Even though the retrieval of outstanding debts via a CCJ is a civil matter, if you’re not there to defend yourself, then the charges against you will be passed. This is called a default judgement, and while there may be legitimate reasons why you failed to attend, you need to make the courts aware of your situation as soon as possible.
If you leave this too long, then the courts may ignore your request for the default judgement to be lifted and erased from public record. Under no circumstances waste the court’s time.
In reality, the simple fact that your creditors need to give you notice of at least 14 days before potential legal action means that you will already have defaulted on payments. These defaults will likely have been added to your credit file and be impacting your credit rating before you have the chance to defend yourself in court.
So, while some of the damage has already been done to your credit rating, the inclusion of a CCJ will make a difficult situation many times worse.
The simple answer is, no! Ignorance, burying your head in the sands and hoping that everything goes away is not the answer. There are some CCJ applications which are turned down by the courts if there are extenuating circumstances or simple errors have been made with regards to the case.
We must also remember that creditors will already have been in touch on numerous occasions to discuss your outstanding debt. They have no interest in dragging someone through the courts that may already be struggling financially.
Unfortunately, if you are not prepared to enter negotiations, what option do they have? No creditor is simply going to ignore a debt if the defendant failed to turn up in court.
Let’s look at this from a creditor’s point of view. If you are a loan company and word gets round that you do not chase outstanding debts which are suitable for CCJ legal action, then you would be overrun with new loan applications. You will be seen as an easy touch, and you can bet that your bad debts would mushroom overnight.
Interestingly, under the Limitation Act, 1980a creditor can only pursue an outstanding CCJ for a maximum of six years. The clock will start ticking on the date of judgement, and if a settlement/repayment is not received during the six-year period, then the judgement will likely expire.
In reality, there must be a reason why your creditors are not able to contact you and arrange payment. Therefore, the court may well look kindly on those parties who request extensions.
Yes, you should take advice regarding the threat of a CCJ and even if the advice is not what you wanted to hear, you will still need to see it through. If the debt in question is significant, then you certainly want to give yourself the best chance to put your case forward.
In some cases there may be extenuating circumstances and the courts may only decide to award partial repayment. Human nature tends to prompt us to think the worst, to think that the other side have a strong case, and there is no point in challenging them. Wrong on so many levels!
As we touched on above, those who are in receipt of CCJ applications are already likely to have defaulted on at least one of their outstanding debts. The chances are they may have defaulted on others, and there could very quickly be a wave of creditors on the horizon.
Bite the bullet, defend yourself and if you lose the CCJ case then organise a repayment plan which you can keep to. Assume this is a crossroads in your life, you have left behind the bad debts, you have made a repayment plan, and now you’re looking to the future. Contrary to popular belief, there is life after a CCJ as many famous business people will tell you.
Burying your head in the sand when you experience financial difficulties does not make them go away. There is no chance that creditors who have begun legal action against you will simply take a backward step and allow you to walk away scot-free.
If you are burying your head in the sand regarding a forthcoming CCJ application, what other debts and legal issues are you ignoring? As they say, it is very unlikely that the scenario you see before you is really as bad as you think.
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