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How to avoid getting caught out like the Prime Minister

Some six months after the date of a county court judgment (“CCJ”), it emerged on 12 May 2021 that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is the subject of a CCJ, based on a search of the publicly accessible Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines (“the Register”).

What is a CCJ?

If a creditor that is owed money issues court proceedings to recover an outstanding debt, and that debtor fails to respond to the claim on time, then the county court may then issue a CCJ against the debtor. This is a default judgment, made in default of a hearing to determine the claim, and records the amount which is owing, the party responsible for settling the debt, when the debt must be discharged by, and how it must be paid.

Can a CCJ affect my credit rating?

In simple terms, yes. Once a CCJ has been issued, it will be recorded on the Register for a period of six years.

The Register is frequently used by banks and loan providers to assess whether providing a loan or credit to an individual/business is appropriate. In addition, any member of the public can pay a small fee in order to check the Register. The checking tool can be used to search against an individual or a business.

An entry in the Register could have an adverse impact on an individual or a business’ ability to take out a loan.

In addition, if a judgment debt is not paid, enforcement proceedings may be commenced to recover the outstanding debt, which may result in bailiffs and/or appropriate collection agents being instructed.

Is it possible to remove a CCJ from the Register?

Yes. It is possible to have a CCJ removed from the Register, provided the judgment debt is paid within one month of the date of the CCJ.

What if I fail to pay within one month of a CCJ? What if I dispute the alleged debt?

Given that the Prime Minister’s CCJ dates back to 26 October 2020 he has missed the one month deadline.  As such, as things stand, the CCJ will remain on the Register for a period of six years.

It is understood that the Prime Minister disputes that the debt is payable and intends to apply to the court to request that the CCJ be set aside.  This may be because there was an issue with service of the proceedings or, for example, there has been an administrative error and the Prime Minster responded to the original proceeding correctly, such that the judgment should not have been entered.  In any event, the moral of the story is that Boris would have been well advised to instruct solicitors as soon as he became aware that proceedings had been issued against him.

The Dispute Resolution & Litigation team at Baines Wilson has vast experience of dealing with debt recovery matters. If you have any queries, please contact us on 01228 552600 or 01524 548494.

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