Your creditors can take you to court (make a claim) if you don’t repay your loan or honour any other terms of your repayment agreement. You shouldn’t ignore such a situation. In fact, you should know how to respond in advance.
Taking action swiftly will stop the situation from escalating. Failing to take the necessary action can result in more debt. You could also lose your home among other possessions like a vehicle.
First and foremost, it’s worth noting that such cases (i.e., defaulting on bank debt, credit card debt, payday loans, building society loans, etc.) usually end up in a county court. When your creditor goes to court, an order known as a CCJ (County Court Judgment) is granted. If you don’t agree with the order, i.e., there is a mistake, and you don’t owe your creditor, you need to fill out some forms from the court. The same applies if you are not in a position to pay back.
Before you are taken to court by a creditor, they are required to send a warning letter informing you that they will take legal action if you don’t pay back within a specified period. If you don’t get a warning letter, there is a basis to stop legal action.
Your creditor is required to try and sort out the issue with you before going to court so it is important to do whatever you can to reach an amicable solution before it’s too late.
When court action commences, you will receive a claim form as well as a response pack from the court. Claim forms have information about the debt such as how much you owe. The response pack has several forms such as forms to accept or deny you owe money. If you deny, there is a form you must send back confirming you received the documents.
You should read these documents carefully and act accordingly observing the stated deadline otherwise a court order will be issued. When this happens, you must pay back the amount your creditor claims. This applies even if you deny you owe the creditor anything. In most cases, you will also have to incur additional costs like interest.
A typical claim form highlights how much the creditor is claiming plus interest if they are interested in claiming.
An authentic claim form should have; a claim number and official court stamp. If you are presented with a fake claim form, you have grounds to launch a harassment case against your creditor. Consult a debt advisor for guidance on how to go about harassment by creditors.
You can find more details about the claim in a document known as particulars of claim which is usually sent with the claim form or separately within 14 days after the claim form is sent.
Creditors hardly chase you for loans you haven’t taken so if you accept your creditors’ claims, you will need to fill and admission form. If not, fill a defence form. You also need to fill a form known as acknowledgement of service confirming you received the documents. Responses must be forwarded within 14 days or 28 days if you need more time to fill the defence form. You can request for more time in the acknowledgement of service.
If you accept your creditor’s claim, it is advisable to contact them and try to get an out-of-court agreement. This option is cheaper for you. However, you are still required to fill and return the court documents. If you need help responding, the UK has some reputable free debt advice services you can use like https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk.
Remember to fill the admission form, detail your financial situation and send it to your creditor (not the court) if you accept you owe the amount stated. Also, make a copy of your admission form for record keeping.
Making an offer
When making an offer, state how much money you can afford per instalment as well as when you will pay each instalment. If your creditor agrees, you can ask the court to prepare an order involving a judge or without a hearing.
If your creditor declines your offer, a judge or court official will make a fair decision without a court hearing in most cases. You can ask for the case to be re- determined if you are not happy with the final verdict. This must be done within 14 days.
In cases where there is no repayment offer, the creditor decides the amount as well as the time you should pay. They can even demand the entire amount immediately. Most orders are public knowledge so it can be difficult securing loans in the future.
If you owe less than stated
If you own a fraction of the money in the claim, you can accept you owe (some money) but disagree on the amount. In such a case you must fill the admission and defence form detailing your issues with the amount and send the documents to court. The court will decide on the way forward through a hearing.
If you don’t owe any money
If you don’t owe anything, complete the defence form highlighting your reasons. You should take this option if you have evidence. It is advisable to seek debt and legal advice to come up with compelling reasons.
There are free debt advice services in the UK. Although you should take out credit card loans, payday loans, overdraft loans etc., that you can pay back comfortably, defaulting isn’t the end of the world. You just need to understand your options when your creditors take legal action.