If you have followed the pre-action process but payment has still not been received, then the next step is to issue proceedings for county court debt recovery
This guide sets out the typical process to obtain a County Court Judgment for a debt.
Step 1 – Issuing county court claims
A claim form and particulars of claim which set out details of the debt owed should be filed with the relevant Court. Most cases are now issued out of the Damages Claims Portal or the County Court Bulk Centre (CCBC).
County Court claims require payment of a fee which will vary in value depending on the amount of the debt you are seeking to recover. Interest can be claimed and, if you use solicitors you can recover the fixed costs of the claim.
Step 2 – County court claims service
Once the claim form has been accepted by the court your claim will be issued and in most cases the court will arrange service of the claim on your debtor.
Step 3 – The debtor’s response
The debtor will have 14 days from the date of service to take action. The most common steps taken by a debtor are:
a) settle the county court claim in full, bringing the action to an end
b) admit the claim in full or in part
c) file an acknowledgement of service. This action gives the debtor a further 14 days (28 days from service in total) to file their defence
d) defend the claim
e) ignore the claim
The debtor may admit liability for the full balance or just part of it. They may also offer to pay the admitted sum in full or via a repayment plan.
You have the option to either accept the admitted sum and the terms of any repayment offer and ask the Court to enter a County Court Judgment on the terms agreed, or reject the admission in which case the claim will proceed as if it were defended.
Defending country court claims
If a reply is received and the debtor denies any liability or does not agree with the amount claimed, then your claim will be defended. This can result in the matter proceeding to a hearing and a judge making the decision as to whether you are entitled to the sums claimed or not.
More detail on the process of defended claims can be found in our guide to defended claims.
Step 4 – County Court Judgment (“CCJ”)
A CCJ will be obtained in the following circumstances:
- If the debtor does not respond to the Claim Form within the timeframes allowed, you can then seek Judgment in default for the full sum claimed, interest and costs (if you instruct a solicitor)
- If the debtor files an Admission and you accept the sum offered, you can seek a Judgment on Admission
- At a hearing, if you are successful in persuading a Judge that the sums claimed are owed
Any CCJ which is unpaid after 30 days will be registered against the debtor’s credit file for a total of 6 years and will have a detrimental effect on their credit rating.
Step 5 – Enforcing a CCJ
If the debtor refuses or fails to pay a CCJ, you can apply to the court to enforce the same.
There are different methods of enforcement and which one is best suited to your case will depend on a number of factors. Please see our guide to enforcement for further information and guidance.
Why choose Trethowans?
Expert advice should be sought when considering a county court claim to avoid costly mistakes. Our dedicated team have years of experience helping our clients with personalised services which ensure you fully understand your rights and how they can apply to your business as well as supporting you throughout the entire process to ensure a positive outcome.
Contact us on 0800 2800 421 or get in touch here and we’ll be happy to answer any questions and discuss your case.