County Court Judgments (CCJs) hit record high!

Published: 16th May 2019

A total of 321,044 judgements were made against consumers in Q1 2019, a rise of 5% compared with Q1 2018.

The total number of adverse CCJs’ has risen year-on-year for the past six years.

The average value of a consumer CCJ recorded over the quarter decreased by 6% to £1,398 compared to Q1 2018.

The continued rise in the number of CCJs is a worrying trend and shows the financial challenges many people are facing.

Over-55s face rising levels of unsecured debt

Unsecured debt amongst 55 to 74 year olds has risen by 34% over the last four years, more than twice the national average. The growing amount of unsecured debt amongst older age groups is worrisome, as it places a more significant burden on the borrower’s life savings or pension as they head into retirement.

The most common form of debt incurred by over-55s was credit cards fees, with over 30% spending more than they paid off each month. Nearly one in five also took out loans to pay for home refurbishments, and the same number used credit to repay other outstanding debts.

Debt consolidation in retirement is difficult, it is not always possible or sensible to use savings to pay off any outstanding balances. Debtors may have planned for that money to be their children’s inheritance, but unfortunately liabilities are payable by the estate before any residual balances are payable to beneficiaries.

Whats the impact for Executors?

The responsibility for administering the estate of a deceased person rests with the executor. An essential duty imposed on the executor is to ensure that all liabilities of the deceased estate are paid.

The first thing the executor should therefore do, before paying any debts, is ascertain the solvency of the estate. If there is any risk that liabilities will outweigh assets, no immediate payments should be made to any creditors. 

In some cases the fact finding process is not always straightforward, there may be unknown and/or untraceable creditors.

The Credit and Liabilities Search is the first service of its kind to process data from Experian into a single report, to assist with Estate Administration (Bereavement) cases. The Credit and Liabilities Report helps professionals to ensure that they;

  • perform a comprehensive check for any traditional or online potential creditors

  • identify relationships with financial organisations in order to locate additional accounts and holdings

  • identify an estate with County Court Judgements (CCJs), bankruptcies or potential insolvency to remain compliant with insolvency law

  • indemnify themselves and beneficiaries in case of unknown or unidentified creditors arising after distribution

  • gain a rapid insight into the persons financial affairs within 48 hours, minimising delays in managing accounts and enabling rapid feedback to the client.

What is a County Court Judgment (CCJ)?

county court judgment (CCJ) is a court order to repay money you owe to a creditor. You may receive a CCJ if someone issued a claim against you and you didn't respond. The CCJ will include details of the amount owed, who you owe, how to pay, and the deadline to pay.

When a debtor has a CCJ against them, they have 14 days to respond and then 1 month to pay the amount they owe in order to avoid the CCJ from affecting their credit file. If they can afford to pay the full amount they owe straight away, they may have the CCJ removed from their credit file.

If the debtor pays off the CCJ more 1 month after the judgment, they can’t remove it from the register, so it’ll appear there for six years. During this time, if the debtor does pay it off in full, they can apply to the court for a ‘certificate of satisfaction’. This won’t remove the CCJ from the public register but it’ll show anyone who checks the register that it’s been paid off or ‘satisfied’.

A CCJ remains on the debtor’s file for six years starting from the date of the judgement, even if they manage to pay it off at some point. If the person tries to take out further credit, every lender will be able to see the CCJ. However, the CCJ expires after six years, and it will be removed from a credit file and the public registry, even if it was not paid off.

What happens if you don’t keep to the terms of a CCJ

If a debtor receives a CCJ and doesn’t keep to the terms it sets out, the creditor can ask the court to enforce the debt.

There are several ways that they can do this:

  • bailiff action

  • Charging Order

  • Attachment of Earnings Order.