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County Court Judgment (CCJs) and your credit rating

  • 08/08/2023
  • Paul Atkinson

a legal advisor in a suit sitting at his desk

If you are facing a "County Court Judgment" (or CCJ for short), it's crucial to understand the meaning and function of a CCJ, whether you're actively involved in a legal dispute or simply seeking to learn more about the legal system.

If you respond promptly and ensure the accuracy of your credit report (or credit profile), you can positively enhance how lenders and companies you work with behave towards you.

In this blog, we'll delve into the basics of a County Court Judgment, its implications, your credit score, and what you can do if you receive one.

What is a County Court Judgment (CCJ)?

A County Court Judgment (CCJ) is a court order issued in the UK by the County Court. It is a legally binding decision made against an individual or a business that has failed to repay a debt they owe. CCJs are typically issued when a creditor takes legal action against a debtor for the outstanding amount.

The CCJ Process
  1. Debt Default: Before a CCJ is issued, the debtor must fail to repay the debt on time. This could be a loan, credit card debt, company invoice, or any other type of outstanding payment.
  2. Creditor's Action: After the debtor has missed payments, the creditor can apply to the County Court for a CCJ. The court will then review the creditor's claim and the debtor's response.
  3. Notification: If the court finds the creditor's claim valid and the debtor has not responded satisfactorily, a CCJ will be issued against the debtor. The debtor will be notified about the judgment in writing, providing details of the outstanding debt, the court's decision, and the deadline for payment.
  4. Repayment: The debtor is required to repay the debt within the specified time frame set by the court. Failure to do so will result in additional consequences.

You may be able to settle the financial dispute in a small claims court where a claim can be made up to the value of £10,000.

What to Do if You receive a CCJ

If you receive a CCJ, it is essential to act promptly:

  • Check the Details: Verify that the information on the CCJ is accurate, including the debt amount and the court's decision.
  • Payment or Settling: If you can afford to pay the debt, it's best to do so within the time frame to avoid further consequences. If you cannot pay the full amount, contact the creditor to discuss a repayment plan or negotiate a settlement.
  • Disputing the CCJ: If you believe the CCJ was issued in error or have a valid reason to dispute it, you can apply to the court to set it aside.

Pay within one month to have the judgment record marked as 'satisfied' on the register. Although it will remain on the register for six years, anyone searching will see you have paid. Inform the court of your payment by writing to them. Enclose proof of payment from the creditor or business that you owe money to.

What impact could a CCJ have on your business?

You might have a county court judgment (CCJ) against you if you owe someone money and a court rules that you have to pay it back. Having a CCJ against you could affect your credit rating, making it difficult to borrow or get credit from a bank, lender, or shop.

The CCJ will appear on your company credit report (usually within 24-48 hours). A company uses this information to determine whether to lend you money.

When a CCJ has been set aside, it doesn't mean it's been satisfied; it means the judgment has been cancelled altogether or court action has stopped, which means it no longer exists.

  • Reputation Damage: One of the most significant impacts of a CCJ on a business is the potential damage to its reputation. The judgment becomes a matter of public record, and customers, suppliers, and partners can access this information, leading to a loss of trust and credibility. This erosion of reputation can result in a decline in sales, loss of clients, and difficulty in attracting new customers.
  • Creditworthiness: A CCJ can severely affect a business's creditworthiness. It stays on the company's credit file for six years, and future creditors and lenders will be cautious when considering extending credit. Obtaining loans, credit lines, or even leasing equipment may become arduous or involve higher interest rates due to the increased perceived risk.
  • Limited Access to Finance: A CCJ can lead to limited access to finance options for businesses reliant on external funding. Banks and financial institutions are less likely to approve loans or overdrafts for a business with a CCJ, making it challenging to invest in expansion, inventory, or new projects.
  • Suppliers and Trade Credit: Suppliers are critical to the smooth operation of any business. A CCJ may result in suppliers imposing stricter payment terms or requesting upfront payment, reducing the business's cash flow flexibility. Trade credit options may also become limited, impacting the ability to negotiate favourable terms with suppliers.
  • Business Relationships and Contracts: A CCJ can strain relationships with business partners, contractors, and collaborators. Companies may be hesitant to enter into agreements with a business with a history of financial instability or legal issues, leading to missed opportunities for growth and collaboration.
  • Impact on Directors and Owners: It's important to note that receiving a county court judgment (CCJ) or high court judgment will remain on the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines for six years. This can impact your company's credit rating, so identifying potential judgments is crucial.

 

How to check if a company has a CCJ 

a business woman in an office looking at financial paperwork

In the UK business economy, late payments are still a common issue. To avoid this, it is essential to thoroughly research potential customers before doing business with them.

If you do this, any negative County Court Judgement (CCJ) information on their record will appear on a company credit report. Another option is to access CCJ information for a fee on the Registry Trust website.

When a CCJ is filed against you, it is added to the Register of Judgments, Orders, and Fines database within a month.

The Registry Trust manages the register containing details of all adverse County Court Judgments (CCJs) against companies in England and Wales. Additionally, this company shares data with credit checking companies.

A County Court Judgment (CCJ) lasts on the Records of judgments and your credit file for 6 years. However, there are some exceptions which we will outline below. Within these 6 years, if you apply for credit, your lender will see the CCJ on your credit file. 

How a CCJ appears on our Company Credit Reports

A County Court Judgment will affect the score as soon as it is filed, but if set aside within 30 days, this will not affect the score. If the debt remains understanding, this will also impact the score until it is settled.  
 
If the CCJ is reflected on one of our UK monitoring reports, it means it has been filed with the court, and if a CCJ monitoring notice comes through, but there is no CCJ in the report, then it was issued but settled immediately.

If you are a large business, the impact on your credit report will be minimal compared to the value of your balance sheet. 

Mitigating the Impact of a CCJ on a Business

While a CCJ can have severe consequences, proactive steps can help mitigate its impact on a business:

  1. Clear Communication: Maintain transparent and open communication with creditors and stakeholders, demonstrating a commitment to resolving the debt issue.
  2. Negotiate with Creditors: Engage in discussions with creditors to explore payment plans or negotiate manageable settlements for the business.
  3. Address Underlying Issues: Identify the root causes of financial challenges and implement measures to prevent similar situations.
  4. Professional Advice: Seek legal and financial advice to understand your options and ensure compliance with legal requirements.
  5. Improve Financial Management: Strengthen financial management practices, including budgeting, cash flow forecasting, and debt management.

If you pay the debt in full within 1 month of the date of the CCJ, you can apply to the court to remove your entry in the Register. You'll need to get a certificate from the court to prove you've paid off the debt.

If your entry is removed from the Register, CoCredo will be told, and details of your CCJ will be removed from our credit reports. You might be able to get credit again once the CCJ has been removed.

Conclusion

A County Court Judgment (CCJ) can profoundly impact a business, affecting its reputation, creditworthiness, relationships with stakeholders, and access to finance. Business owners must take immediate action if they receive a CCJ, working to resolve the debt issue and implement measures to mitigate the long-term consequences. 

By maintaining transparent communication and seeking professional advice, businesses can navigate a CCJ's challenges and focus on regaining financial stability and credibility.

Don't let recovering unpaid customer debt be a burden on your time or budget. CoCredo has relationships with partners who offer debt recovery solutions, and we would be happy to introduce you.  

Call us on 01494 790600 to find out more. 

 

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