A complete guide to your legal rights (CCJ)
What is a CCJ?
“A County Court Judgement, better known as CCJ, is a Court Order against the Defendant and in favor of the Claimant. The Order may include the monetary award for the Claimant and specific instructions for Defendant depending upon the nature of the claim. You may have watched the popular TV program in which the High Court’s debt recovery agents, often known as High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEO), serve a writ to either recover the money or for the possession of the personal property, In order to enforce the judgment debt (CCJ). It is a stressful situation when people find HCEO at their doorstep. This article investigates the obligations and legal rights of both the HCEO and judgment debtor“.
Read Time: 5 minutes
What is on this page?
- What is a CCJ?
- Methods of Enforcement
- Taking control of goods
- Goods exempt from control
- Rules on the seizure of a motor vehicle
- Household items
- Control Goods Agreements
- Entry to debtor’s House
Methods of Enforcement for CCJ
Once a county court judgment (CCJ) is entered or passed by the Court, the next step is the implementation of the county court judgments. It is common that at this stage the Claimant may take the help of HCEO to enforce the Court Order and recover the judgment debt in the form of either monies or personal possession. Under the current civil litigation law, the HCEO has four methods to CCJ debt enforcement. These are the following;
- Taking control of goods
- Charging order
- Third-party debt order
- Attachment of earnings orders
Taking Control of Goods
Where a debtor fails to pay the judgment debt, the HCEO have the right to seize and sell the debtors personal goods in order to pay the debt and related costs including the costs of enforcement. The seized items are sold by public auctions. After deducting all expenses of the sale, the debt and costs related to enforcement any surplus proceeds are returned to the debtor.
Please note that HCEO cannot enter the home of the debtor without a warrant. Always ask to see the warrant and confirm it as well.
HCEO, generally look for furniture, electrical items, banknotes, bills of exchange, bonds, cars, jewellery etc to seize. The second-hand furniture and electrical items are generally seized where HCEO believes that these items may sell well at the auctions.
Goods exempt from Control
The enforcement officers cannot take control of goods or seize goods that are;
- On hire or subject to hire purchase agreement.
- Tools, books, telephones, computer equipment, vehicles and other items of equipment that are necessary to the debtor for use personally in his job, trade, profession, study or business provided the maximum aggregate value of the goods is less than £1350.
- The agents are also prohibited from taking control of clothing, bedding, furniture, household equipment and provisions that are reasonably required for satisfying the basic domestic needs of the debtor and his family.
By necessary items, courts believe that these are the items that are so essential to the debtor that without them he could not continue his existing job or business.
It is important to note that the necessary items exemption only applies to individuals and it does not apply to a judgment debtor who is a partnership or limited company.
Where someone relies on a vehicle for their living and provided the value of the vehicle is less than £1,350, such vehicle cannot be seized as it is a tool of the debtor’s trade. The debtor must satisfy the High Court Enforcement Officer that there is no reasonable alternative available for him to carry out his trade.
Televisions, videos, DVD players, Stereo equipment are not considered necessary items for the debtor hence these items can be seized by the enforcement officers. On the other hand, a cooker, a washing machine, a dishwasher is so essential to the existence of a debtor and his/her family that they cannot be seized.
Control Goods Agreements
In practice, the goods which are subject to seizure orders are not removed immediately. The enforcement officer may agree that the goods will not be removed at once and the debtor may agree not to dispose of them or permit them to be moved. The whole idea behind the control goods agreement is to provide the debtor with another opportunity to pay the money due under the county court Judgment (CCJ). The debtor can also apply to the court for the suspension of writ or warrant and may agree to pay the money on a certain date or in installments.
Entry to debtor’s House
A High Court Enforcement Officer or Enforcement officer from county court cannot enter a debtor’s house without a court warrant.
Order for Sale
In order to recover the sum due, the creditor is permitted to sell the property seized and recover the sum owed.
A debtor or judgment debt is for £5,000 or more. The judgment creditor can also apply for the bankruptcy of the debtor by serving a statutory demand notice on the judgment debtor.
In the case of companies, the creditor can apply for winding up of the company where the debt is for £750 or more.