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1 Dealing with Debt
8. What creditors can do to get their money
If you don't apply for a time order (or the court won't grant you one), the creditor's main legal option to get their money is through a 'money-only' claim in the county court.
If a creditor succeeds in a 'money-only' claim, you will have a county court judgment (CCJ) registered against you. This will go on your credit file and will affect your credit rating - probably making it more difficult for you to get, for example, a loan or credit card in future. It will also increase the amount you owe, because you will have to pay the creditor's costs if the court rules that you should pay them. You must pay what the court orders or the creditor can use bailiffs and other measures to make you pay. If you own your own home, the debt could be secured against it through a charging order (see 'Charging order' for more about how this works).
However, there are advantages to a CCJ, if you really can't come to an agreement with the creditor to pay back the money. In most cases it should mean that they stop adding interest to what you owe and the court will generally set out a repayment plan that you should be able to afford. As long as you keep up to the plan ordered by the court, the creditor can't use enforcement measures, like bailiffs, against you.
The 'money-only' claims procedure
At this stage, you can choose to either defend the claim or admit the claim.
Defending the claim
See 'Other legal protection if you are in debt' for more information.
However, you shouldn't defend a claim without getting expert advice first. If you lose your case, you may have to pay the creditor's court costs, which could mean that your debt becomes even bigger.
If the creditor has not acted resonably in trying to come to a payment arrangement with you, you can defend (argue that you should not have to pay) the part of their claim that covers the court fee and the court costs .
Admitting the claim
If you or the creditor don't agree with the court's order for payment, you have 14 days to ask for the decision to be 're-determined' by a district judge. If the court then decides to have a hearing, the case will be transferred to your nearest court. You and the creditor will both be able to have your say before the court decides whether to change the order for payment set out in the original judgment.
If you don't respond to a claim
In some cases, you may not have been able to respond to the claim (for example, because it was sent to the wrong address, or you were away when it was sent). If you are in this position, you may be able to get the judgment 'set aside'. To do so, though, you will usually have to show that you have a good chance of defending the claim or you have another good reason for it to be set aside. If you want to get a claim set aside, you should get expert advice first.
If you can no longer afford the payments
When you won't have to pay
This leaflet is published by the Legal Services Commission (LSC). It was written in association with Birmingham Settlement.
The leaflets are regularly updated but the law may have changed since they were printed so the information in them may be incorrect or out of date.
Leaflet Version: October 2019
CLS Legal Info Leaflets
(Legal Information Leaflets)