What is a County Court Judgment?
A County Court Judgment is an Order made in the County Court which requires a party to pay a sum of money to another party. They are commonly referred to as CCJs.
How do they arise?
A County Court Judgment can arise in the following ways:
Where a Defendant fails to respond to a Claim Form and Particulars of Claim
When a Defendant is served with a Claim Form and Particulars of Claim they have a period of time in which to respond. This is normally 14 days. If the Defendant fails to respond within the specified time it will be open to the Claimant to apply for “judgment in default”. An application for judgment in default is dealt with by a judge on paper and without a hearing or investigation of the merits of the case. If the Claimant’s application is successful judgment will be given.
Where a Defendant files an Admission
If a Defendant responds to the Claim Form and Particulars of Claim by filing an Admission with the Court then the Claimant may ask the Court to enter judgment based on the Admission.
Where a party fails to comply with a Court Order
On occasions a Court Order will require that a party take a particular step by a certain date. Quite often such orders will include a provision entitling the other party to apply for judgment if the party fails to comply with the order.
Where the case has been decided by the Court
If there has been a hearing or trial at which the Court has decided the case and made a judgment requiring a party to pay monies to another party.
What are their consequences?
Most County Court judgments are placed on the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines. The Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines replaced the Register of County Court Judgments and also contains details of most High Court judgments as well as certain other types of orders and fines.
Financial institutions such as banks, building societies and credit companies routinely consult the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines when a person applies for credit or a loan. The existence of an entry on the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines may result in a financial institution declining a request for credit or an application for a loan.
The details of most judgments will remain on the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines for a period of 6 years.
How can they be removed?
By making payment within 1 month
If the monies due under the judgment are paid within 1 month the party against whom the judgment has been obtained can apply for the judgment to be removed from the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines. The application should be made to the Court who made the judgment and supported with proof that the payment has been paid. The proof required must be in the form of a letter or receipt from the person to whom the money was owed or their solicitor. If that person fails to confirm that the money has been paid the Court will write to them seeking confirmation that it has been paid. If after a month they have not replied to the Court’s letter the Court will process the request for removal of the judgment.
By making a successful application to set aside the judgment
An order to set aside a judgment will only be made if the judgment was wrongly entered because the correct formalities were not complied with either when the proceedings were served on the Defendant or when judgment was entered or if the Defendant is able to persuade a judge that he has “a real prospect of successfully defending the claim” or that there is some other good reason why the judgment should be set aside.
An application to set aside a judgment should only be made where there are genuine reasons for disputing the judgment. Often the person making the application will be required to pay the other party’s costs incurred in opposing the application even if the judgment is set aside.
Satisfaction of a judgment
Whilst this does not result in the removal of a judgment from the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines an entry can be marked as “satisfied” if the monies owed under the judgment are paid after the period of 1 month.
An application for a judgment to be marked as “satisfied” can be made by the party against whom the judgment has been obtained. The application should be made to the Court who made the judgment and supported with proof that the payment has been paid. The proof required is the same as that required for an application for removal of a judgment from the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines.