County Court Judgment shake-up on its way?

03 January 2018

The Government has set out its plans to roll out increased consumer protections by way of shaking up the County Court Judgment (CCJ) process. These plans will aim to protect individuals from unscrupulous companies, and gives the example of Parking Enforcement companies.

It is argued that many consumers have ‘unfair’ CCJs relating to debts which they know nothing about. The Government’s consultation paper seeks to review the whole CCJ process – how they are applied for, processed and granted – after concerns that some ‘rogue companies’ are intentionally issuing claims against incorrect addresses in order to secure Judgments in default of any defence.

The Government’s argument is that ‘innocent’ consumers are unfairly hit by this, only discovering a CCJ against them when applying for credit at some future date. This can have a major impact on credit ratings and can cause loan applications to be rejected.

Iain Blundell, Solicitor leading out Debt Recovery department, comments: “I have been instructed by many clients who were completely unaware that a CCJ had been obtained against them. They only realise when a mortgage application is rejected and this often has a knock on effect with an impending property purchase. Companies can’t always be responsible for tracking an illusive debtor, but surely should have to take reasonable steps to ensure an address is correct”

The Government’s proposals may allow for a CCJ to be struck out immediately – or removed from the register – when a Judge agrees that a debtor was unaware about it. At present, the Debtor must apply to set aside the Judgment and must have good grounds to do so.

Proposals also include protection when mail is sent to an old address, but it is unclear how this will distinguish between those debtors who are intentionally avoiding debts, and those who are ‘innocent’ consumers.

Iain comments: “It will be interesting to see how this is handled by the Government, as there are those debtors – and I deal with a large number of them – who seem to be intentionally avoiding creditors. It is clear that protection for those termed ‘innocent consumers’ in these proposals is necessary, but I would also want safeguards in place to protect businesses and creditors against those who are simply determined not to pay their debts! I am pleased to see Dominic Raab’s comment that it is only a minority of ‘cowboy’ companies that need reining in.”

At Curtis Law, we await the Government’s next announcements in this area, and will be interested to see how their planned information campaign and ‘centralised, trusted source’ is rolled out.

If you are unfairly hit with a CCJ or Judgment that you didn’t know about, or a debt that you don’t believe is owed, please contact our expert team on 01254 297130.

If you run a business and are looking to recover unpaid invoices or bad debts, our expert team is also well placed to assist you. We have expertise at pursuing commercial debts, as well as bulk debts or late payers. Please contact the team at Curtis Law Solicitors on 01254 297130.