When somebody cannot pay a debt and is then sued for payment through a County Court the resulting judgment, where the claimant is successful, will be formally recorded on a public register of County Court Judgments. The entry is frequently referred to as a CCJ. There are several credit-checking companies which collect this information from the Courts on a daily basis and add it to their database.
Many traders selling high value items, such as a motorcar, will check that the buyer does not have any CCJs registered against their name. Bank and mortgage lenders and all credit-card suppliers will always check these databases for undischarged CCJs. Most will refuse finance based on this credit check, sometimes without any further explanation.
Unfortunately, it is far easier to get your name on to these registers when you have an unpaid CCJ than it is to remove the record once the debt is repaid in full. The Data Protection Act places stringent conditions on the operators and owners of any databases recording CCJs to ensure maximum accuracy.
You can insist on being supplied with a copy of all the information recorded about you and can insist that it is corrected if not factually correct. However, there is no obligation for a credit reference agency to notify you about changes to your entry. You must request the information.
Providing the data are accurate, you cannot have a valid CCJ removed nor restrict the credit reference agencies from selling this information to its subscribers. Most banks and building societies have computer programs which automatically carry out frequent cross-checks.
There are several words of advice. Firstly and self-evidently, try never to get into serious debt. Secondly, if you cannot pay a debt or meet the agreed repayments do not let matters get out of hand. Try to negotiate a reduced payment by restructuring the debts and, if at all possible, avoid a CCJ.
When you manage to pay off a debt which was subject to a CCJ you must make sure the claimant formally notifies the court in question that the debt has been paid and the judgment satisfied. If you come to an arrangement with your creditor and only repay a portion of the judgment debt make sure he nevertheless agrees to tell the court the matter is settled. There is no time limit on CCJs. They remain on the public record indefinitely unless action is taken to remove the entry.
It is highly unlikely that you will be able to buy a house while you have an undischarged CCJ against your name. There are some specialist lenders which claim to consider applicants with outstanding CCJs but few will actually grant a mortgage and, if they do, the lending terms could be penal.
This is a complex subject where
we can only give you this general guidance. If you need help, best advice is to
talk to your local Citizens Advice Bureaux which will have experts available to
give you sound and confidential advice.