It has been widely reported in the media that Boris Johnson has had a County Court Judgment awarded against him for the sum of £535 which remains unsatisfied. The Order is dated 26 October 2020 and has been obtained for alleged deformation.
So whilst Boris goes and seeks legal advice from Ms Suella Braverman QC MP (the Attorney General), here is my analysis of the situation.
What is a County Court Judgment?
A County Court Judgment (a.k.a. a CCJ or judgment in default) is an order of the court which is usually made in a money claim. The judgment will order one party to pay the other and will render the amount undisputable unless the judgment is set aside.
Judgment in default is a judgment obtained by an administrative act rather than by trial. It is the early determination of a claim following a Defendant’s failure to file a defence within the time limits set out in the Civil Procedure Rules 1998.
What are the effects of a County Court Judgment?
Once awarded, a judgment will stay on the Judgment Debtor’s credit record for a period of six years. It will make it very difficult for the Judgment Debtor to obtain any kind of credit. This could include but certainly is not limited to:
- Credit Cards
- Any type of finance
County Court Judgments are usually payable forthwith and will need to be paid in full to avoid enforcement action being taken against the Judgment Debtor by the Judgment Creditor. Depending on the size of the judgment debt, enforcement action could include:
- An order for an attachment over the Judgment Debtor’s earnings;
- Bailiffs or High Court Enforcement Officers attending the Judgment Debtor’s address to remove goods and chattels;
- Bankruptcy or winding up proceedings;
- A charging order being obtained over the Judgment Debtor’s property.
How to remove a County Court Judgement?
The easiest way would be to pay the judgment debt. If paid within 28 days of the date of the Order then the Judgment Debtor will be able to obtain a certificate of cancellation from the court which will remove the judgment from the Judgment Debtor’s credit file. If paid after 28 days then the Judgement Debtor will only be able to have the judgment marked as satisfied.
The Judgement Debtor can also apply to set the judgment aside by making an on notice application. A court will only grant the application if the Judgment Debtor can satisfy the following grounds:
- That the claim was paid before judgment was granted;
- Either a Defence or Acknowledgment of Service was filed within the correct time limit;
- The Judgment debt is disputed and the Judgment Debtor has a real prospect of successfully defending the claim;
- Or it appears to the court that there is any other good reason why the judgment should be set aside.
The court will also give consideration as to how promptly the application has been made.
It is obvious that Boris is going to have to address this County Court Judgment or he will be leaving himself open to enforcement proceedings being commenced against him. We have been told that the judgment is dated 26 October 2020, so it will not be possible for him to pay the nominal sum and for the judgment to be removed from his credit file. He will only be able to have it marked as satisfied as it will have been more than 28 days since the date of the Order.
In any event, the Government has said that Boris will be applying to set the judgment aside. So, as long as he can satisfy one or more of the grounds mentioned above, his application should be successful. The court will scrutinise how prompt he has made this application, however, by taking into account the length of time which has passed since the date he became aware of the judgment. The court will also question why the original claim form was not dealt with.