Varying a County Court Judgment (CCJ)
You can ask a court to reduce the payments on a county court judgment (CCJ). There are various ways of reducing the payments on a CCJ. You can apply to the court for a 'redetermination' or a 'variation'. Which application you apply for depends on how the decision about how much you should pay was made.
Applying for Redetermination
Redetermination of the CCJ
You can only apply for a redetermination in the following circumstances:
- You cannot afford the payments
- You admitted the claim and made an offer of payment, but the creditor has refused your offer
- After the creditor refused your offer, the court set the rate of payment, but there was no hearing
You will have 14 days to ask for a redetermination after being served with an order to pay the CCJ. You can usually ask for a redetermination by sending a letter to the court, or by being asked to complete form N244. The case will normally be transferred to your local County Court hearing centre (as often claims are made by the creditor in a court which is not local to you). There is no fee for this application.
Applying for a redetermination
Explain to the court that you cannot afford the payments you have been asked to make, and say the amount you can afford to pay. Work out an affordable budget and Include a copy. Inform the court you are asking for a redetermination under rule 14.13 of the Civil Procedure Rules. If the original decision was made by a judge, the redetermination will be heard at a hearing, unless both you and the creditor say you do not want one.The court will then make a decision but they do not have to agree to change the original order.
Applying for Variation
If you are out of time to apply for a redetermination, you may still be able to apply to vary the CCJ, using application form N245. Unless you qualify for help you will have to pay a fee for this application. If you apply for a fee remission online, you'll be issued a reference number to include on your variation application.
You can apply for a variation order providing:
- you did not reply to the claim form
- you replied admitting the claim, but did not make an offer to pay
- you replied admitting the claim, and the creditor accepted your offer of payment
- you defended the claim but lost
Make sure you include all your income and outgoings from your budget on application form N245. If you are a couple, include your total household income and outgoings. You should also include details of all the payments you make on your debts. This will evidence to the court that you can only afford to pay the amount you have offered. Varying the payment is at the court’s discretion. They will decide if changing the payment is fair to both you and the creditor.
Sending your N245 application
You can send or take the N245 and your fee (or fee remission form) to the court that made the CCJ, unless the case has already been transferred to your local county court hearing centre. Keep a copy of the application for your records. A copy will be sent to the creditor by the court.
If your creditor agrees to your application they will notify the court, and the court will send you details of what has been agreed and when to pay.
If the creditor has not agreed to the offer, the court will work out how much you should pay. If the court decides you should pay more than you have offered, but you do not think you can afford what they have asked for, you can ask for a redetermination (see previous section). You will only have 14 days to do this.
Variation of payment using form N244
You can also apply for a variation using form N244 under the following circumstances:
- the rate of payment was set at a hearing
- the rate of payment was set by redetermination
- you could have applied for a redetermination, but have run out of time
You will normally only be allowed to vary the payment that has been made, if your circumstances have changed. For example, the court might accept your application if your income has been reduced.
Making an application using form N244
Inform the court you are asking them to vary the payment under practice direction 14 6.1 of the Civil Procedure Rules. Provide them with your case reference number, the name of the creditor and your name, and the names of anyone else involved if it is a joint claim. Explain why you circumstances have changed, and the amount you can now afford to pay with a copy of your budget. You should state if you would like a hearing, to state your case to the judge.
Instead of going back to court, you could try negotiating directly with your creditors. This could save you paying the fee to the court but if you don't pay what the court originally told you to pay, the creditor could still choose to take enforcement action.
If you are late making payments or miss a payment, your creditor may take further action against you. This is called enforcement. This could include asking the court to:
- Send bailiffs to your home
- Ask your employer to deduct money from your wages
- Order you to attend court to answer questions about your financial circumstances
If your creditor takes enforcement action, you may still be able to ask the court to suspend any action and make an offer to pay by instalments.
If you own property, it is possible for your creditor to make a charging order application, even if you have kept up to date with your payments.
If you have a CCJ, this will normally be recorded on a public register called the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines. This information is also registered on your credit reference file. The information will stay on your credit reference file and the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines for six years from the date the CCJ was made, unless you pay the CCJ in full within one calendar month.