Dealing with your non-priority debts

​What if my creditors take court action?



If you don't agree with the amount the creditor says you owe, you will need to put in a defence. Putting in a defence or counterclaim is complicated. Contact us for advice.

Many people are frightened of courts especially when they feel guilty because they owe money. The county court is not a criminal court and will not judge anyone guilty or innocent. They are there to settle disputes about money owed and how to repay it. The court is not there to serve the interests of creditors alone. If the creditor is a business you will both need to follow court rules called the pre-action protocol for debt claims. The court is keen to see you come to an arrangement with your creditors without court action. If court action is taken, you will not usually have to go to a court hearing. Most of the procedure is done through the post.

  • The creditor should send you a letter before they start court action called a letter of claim. The letter of claim should give you details of how much you owe and how the amount has been worked out. The letter should also tell you how to pay and how to contact the creditor to discuss your repayment options. It should also include a list of free, independent advice agencies you can contact.
  • You need to reply to the letter of claim within 30 days. You can agree that you owe all of the money, some of the money or none of the money. You can also ask for more information if you aren’t sure.
  • The rules allow you to ask your creditor for time to get debt advice if you need to, before they take court action.
  • If the creditor goes on to take court action, you will receive a 'claim form' from the court. The claim form will include details of the debt, known as the 'particulars of claim'.
  • If you do have to go to a court hearing, your name will not appear in the local paper, so don't worry about publicity.
  • The court staff and the district judge who decide the cases are used to dealing with people who do not have a solicitor.

If you receive a claim form or letter from the court, contact us for advice.

If you agree you owe the debt

There will be a reply form with the claim form for you to make your offer of repayment. This is called the 'admission form'. There are instructions included on how to fill in the form. It looks quite like your personal budget and asks for similar information on income and essential outgoings. Contact us for advice.


do make an offer of payment

In the claim form there is a section you can fill in to include your priority debt payments. You also have space to include any other court judgment you have, and to list all your non-priority debts. It is important to make an offer of payment in the 'offer box'. If you leave it blank, the court will decide you have not made an offer and tell you to pay the whole debt at once, or order you to pay what the creditor asks for.