Plans to 'make the process fairer' on debt rulings

The Ministry of Justice has launched a consultation on how county court judgments (CCJs) are issued, after concerns were raised that some rogue companies were deliberately sending claims to consumers using incorrect addresses.

This consultation is seeking formal evidence on the scale of the problem and collecting views on how best to protect consumers and businesses.

Currently, County Court judgments may be made against defendants who, because the claimant used an old address, do not know about the County Court judgment and find months or years later that their credit rating is damaged.

Where a default judgment is made in a claim it is registered in the statutory Register of Fines, Orders and Judgments. The judgment will remain on the register for six years, but if the defendant pays the full amount owed within 28 days the entry will be removed from the Register. If, however, it is paid after 28 days the entry in the Register will remain but will be marked ‘satisfied’ when the claimant informs the court.

The proposal under consultation is to provide that a judgment may be moved from the Register where:

  • The court is satisfied that the defendant was unaware of the claim/judgment when originally issued/entered;
  • The court is satisfied that the defendant has only just become aware of the claim and judgment; and
  • The defendant immediately pays in full.

Thus, the defendant would be placed in the same position as a defendant who received the judgment and paid within 28 days of receiving it.

We want to protect vulnerable consumers from abuse by rogue companies that can destroy the credit rating of innocent people without them even knowing about it. Debts should be paid, not exploited by a minority of cowboys who need reining in.

Justice Minister Dominic Raab said

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