Challenge a county court debt
Can I dispute court action against me?
If a creditor threatens to obtain a County Court Judgment (CCJ) against you, and you dispute the debt, you should take action before court action starts and you will be warned about this being a possibility by way of a letter of claim.
What is the letter before claim?
The letter before claim is a formal notice from your creditor that outlines what you owe, how this has been worked out and how to get in touch to pay the outstanding amount without delay. You should also be informed of where to seek advice to try and get your finances in order.
This letter should be sent to you before any court action is undertaken and it should be viewed as a warning to get your debts paid back (or at least organised) so you can avoid having legal action taken against you.
Can I dispute a letter before claim?
If you feel you do not owe what has been claimed by the creditor, you should explain this to the creditor who should explain their calculations. There may be an opportunity to try and come to an arrangement to resolve the dispute quicker but this will need to be agreed by both parties. If you do have concerns, you can raise this with the Financial Ombudsman Service.
How should I respond to a letter before claim?
When you are sent a letter before claim you should also be sent a reply form too. This should be sent back to the creditor within 30 days of the date on it and how you respond depends on whether you agree or disagree with the letter before claim.
Should you seek advice you should state who you are seeking advice from, what advice you are seeking and when you expect to get a reply.
If you are going to dispute all or a portion of your debt, you need to be clear in your response and explain what you agree with and what you disagree with. It’s important that you say where you feel the blame lies, how you feel the dispute should be resolved and to confirm if you are formally making a complaint against the creditor.
You should also send copies of any documents that support your case and you can ask the creditor to provide you with documents that support their claim. The creditor will have 30 days to send you these documents or provide an explanation as to why they cannot do so.
How to avoid court action
You should do all you can to avoid going to court at all, and this could be avoided by trying to directly negotiate with the creditor you owe money to. Try asking them to recalculate their workings out and show you clearly how they got to their decision.
You may wish to make a complaint if you feel your creditor is being unreasonable in the negotiations and will not back down from their original action. This should be done immediately to make sure you aren’t forced to go to court.
How long will a CCJ last on my credit file?
A CCJ will stay on your credit file for a period of six years, if you do not pay the full amount of the CCJ within one month of it being issued.
It is important you read the claim made against you thoroughly and seek advice if you are unsure how to respond, as your credit file will be affected for a long period of time and you may then find it hard to take out credit during this time.