County court action

County court and credit debts

If you fall behind on payments to a creditor and cannot reach an agreement to pay the debt back, they may make a claim through the county court to get a county-court judgment (CCJ) against you.  

Information:

not able to pay

It is not a criminal offence to have a CCJ and you cannot be sent to prison for not being able to pay.

Non-priority creditors use the county court. The following are some of the most common non-priority debts.
 
  • Credit cards
  • Store cards
  • Unsecured loans
  • Charge cards
  • Catalogues
  • Payday loans
  • Doorstep-collected loans

Information:

who makes the final decision?

The final decision about how much you should pay back each month is taken by the court, even if the creditor wants a higher amount.

 

When county-court action is taken against you, you will get court forms which you should reply to and say what you can afford to pay. The county court should consider your circumstances and your income and outgoings before making a decision about how the debt should be paid back. 

 

 

 
 

Further action creditors can take

See our fact sheet:

County court - charging orders.

If your creditor applied for a CCJ against you on or after 1 October 2012, they can apply to secure the debt against any property you own, even if you have not missed payments on the CCJ.
 

If you miss payments on a CCJ, the creditor can take other types of action against you through the county court, which could include:

  • taking regular deductions from your wages if you are working, called an ‘attachment of earnings order’;
  • freezing money in your bank account, called a ‘third party debt order’; and
  • using bailiffs to take control of your goods.
 

County-court action and housing debt

Sometimes, county-court procedures can be used by priority creditors.
 
  • If you own your own home, your mortgage or secured loan lender could make a claim in the county court to repossess your property if you fall behind with payments on your mortgage or secured loan.
  • If you rent your home, your landlord could make a county-court claim to end your tenancy if you fall behind with rent payments.

Mortgage arrears guide

For more information about how to deal with mortgage arrears, see our detailed Mortgage arrears guide.

This guide gives you information and advice if you are behind on your mortgage. It explains your options and the processes your lender must follow.

Use this guide to:

  • find out if there is any help you can get;
  • work out which option is right for you;
  • help you negotiate with your lender; and
  • get advice about how to deal with court action.

This guide also includes some useful contacts and links for you to get further help.

Rent arrears guide

For more information about how to deal with rent arrears, see our detailed Rent arrears guide.

This guide will give you practical information and advice if you are behind on your rent. It will explain your options, and the processes your landlord must follow.

Use this guide to:

  • work out what kind of tenancy you have;
  • find out if there is any help you can get with your rent;
  • decide the best option for you;
  • help you negotiate with your landlord; and
  • get advice about dealing with court action.

This guide also includes some useful contacts and links for you to get further help.

 
 

County-court action and hire-purchase or conditional-sale debt

See our fact sheet: 

Hire purchase and conditional sale.

If you fall behind with payments on a hire-purchase or conditional-sale agreement, the lender could make a county-court claim to repossess the goods.

 

 

County court action and your credit reference file

A county-court judgment will be recorded on your credit reference file for six years. This will make it more difficult and expensive for you to get further credit.

 

Fact sheets for further help

We have a range of fact sheets that give more information about county-court action.
 

Fact sheet library