If you get into trouble with your debts
and don’t keep an eye on what is happening (or try to sort out your situation) then various things could happen to you. You may, for example, have a County Court claim issued against you by a creditor. This is most often done when someone doesn’t meet their debt repayment commitments or cannot come to an arrangement with a creditor. The creditor will then take legal action of this kind to get their money back.
A County Court claim is basically a legal order
that informs you that your debt is being ‘called in’. It is important that you respond to this claim if you want to have some influence on what happens -- you’re only given 14 days to make a response so you can’t afford to hang around. If you don’t do anything about it then the court may simply find in favour of the creditor via a judgement by default which usually means that you will be told to pay back all that you owe plus relevant costs. This could also have a negative impact on your credit rating.
There are various options open to you when you are given a County Court claim. These include:
Don’t get worried if this happens to you.
- If you agree with the claim and you want to pay it all off then you must pay your original debt plus costs, court fees and any interest that is laid out. This payment should be sent to the creditor as outlined on your claim within 14 days. If you pay everything in full then the claim is settled and you don’t need to do anything else.
- If you agree with the claim but cannot afford to pay back all that owe at once then you can ask for more time to pay. You’ll need to fill in a court form (N9A, the Admission Form). This will ask you to outline how you want to pay (i.e. in scheduled repayment instalments over a specific period). You should then send this form to your creditor within 14 days.
- If you dispute the amount that your creditor says that you owe then you will need to fill in two Admission Forms (N9A and N9B). These forms needs to be sent direct to the court and not to the creditor and you should use them to state your case and to outline where you think the mistakes have been made. You can arrange to pay back the true amount in full or ask for it to be dealt with in instalments. Again, these forms should be sent off within 14 days.
- If you dispute the claim as a whole (i.e. you don’t think you owe the money) then you need to fill out a Defence Form (N9B) and send it to the court within the 14 days. If you think you need more time to put a case together then the Acknowledgment of Service form (N9) will give you an extra 14 days, as long as you lodge it with the court within the original 14 days.
As long as you act quickly and do all that you should you will usually find that this is not a painful process. Remember, you can get advice and help with your options in detail from your local court. They will be able to supply the forms you need and give you advice on filling them in if that proves necessary.