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16th November 2016 - Islwyn MP calls out ‘unjust’ and ‘disproportionate’ county court judgements and urges reform

Islwyn MP calls out ‘unjust’ and ‘disproportionate’ county court judgements and urges reformThe MP for Islwyn, Chris Evans, has today led a Parliamentary debate to urge reform of unjust and disproportionate county court judgements (CCJs) and to end cases of unknown judgements destroying access to finance.

According to The Money Charity, 2,102 consumer County Court Judgements are issued every single day, with an average value of £2,030. However a recent investigation published in the Daily Mail found that the number of CCJs issued last year was 900,000 – a greater than 33% increase on the three previous years including one for the value of one pence.

Most CCJs served to debtors are unchallenged within the allowed 14 day period meaning they are automatically decided in favour of claimants. One reason for this is court documents are sent only to the ‘last known address’ of debtors meaning they are never received if addresses are incorrect.

Mr Evans proposed a number of reforms to CCJs including the need to extend the fourteen day challenge period, encourage creditors to use other means of dispute resolution and mediation, introduce a new mechanism for smaller debts which would have a lesser impact on credit ratings, and remove CCJs from the Register of Judgements, Orders and Fines once they have been paid, rather than after six years.

To tackle the problem of court documents being sent to inaccurate addresses, Mr Evans called on the government to follow the example set by Scotland where court documents are sent by recorded delivery and hand delivered by Sheriff’s Officers if that fails.

Mr Evans said: ‘County Court Judgements are currently unbalanced in favour of claimants, as it is too difficult for debtors to get the information, time and support they need to challenge them. This is a particular problem if the CCJ is sent to the wrong address.

‘Those with a CCJ against their name are then effectively shut out of access to affordable finance, and some only find out they have a CCJ against their name when they are refused a mortgage.

‘This must not continue. Of course those who are owed money should have the means necessary to receive payments due, but CCJs are over-used and have a devastating effect on access to finance.

‘It is unjust and disproportionate that a relatively small and unknown parking fine from a year ago, for example, can prevent someone from buying a house, car or even a mobile phone contract. Yet this is the reality which some people are forced to face.

‘I trust the Government will consider the reforms I have put forward today and introduce changes which improve CCJs and ensure as many people as possible have access to finance.’

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