A county court judgment, also known as a CCJ, is a term typically used to describe a court judgment for money in the countries of England and Wales, though technically it could be used to describe any court decision, whether or not it involves a monetary award. The county court judgment reflects a decision by a county court judge to award a plaintiff money after deciding a lawsuit in his favor. The court judgment can then be added to a Register of County Court Judgments that credit and consumer reporting bureaus can check to evaluate the financial situation of someone who applies for credit or as part of a background check. A similar system also exists in the United States, whereby a court judgment becomes part of public record and may have a negative impact on a judgment debtor's credit and reputation.
Plaintiffs may file a lawsuit against another individual or organization for a variety of reasons. One common reason for such lawsuits is the failure of an individual to repay a personal or consumer debt, such as a personal loan or credit card bill. If the creditor is unable to work with a debtor to get the bill paid, the creditor may go to court to ask a judge to order the debtor to pay the debt. If the creditor succeeds in winning its case, a county court judgment is issued. This gives the creditor the right to enforce debt collection through one of several methods if the debtor fails to make required payments on the judgment debt.
In both the England and Wales as well as the United States, judgments can be included in public records. England and Wales, however, allow judgment debtors 30 days to pay off their county court judgment so as to avoid its inclusion in public records. Once the judgment is made public in this way, it can appear in a debtor's credit reports, often severely damaging her credit rating.
Methods for collecting a county court judgment include attaching or garnishing a debtor's wages or seizing the debtor's assets and then selling them to pay off the debt. In some cases, a creditor may be able to take out a lien on a debtor's home, even forcing the debtor to sell the home in order to collect the judgment. Debtors in England and Wales who are truly in serious financial straits may be able to appeal to the court for modified payments or can have the judgment set aside because they are essentially insolvent. Debtors in the United States who cannot pay a court judgment sometimes have the option of filing for bankruptcy as a way to avoid paying off a judgment.