You might have heard the term CCJ – County Court Judgement – in connection with someone’s business problems but do you know what it means?

Put simply: if a person or business owes you money and they show a distinct lack of interest in paying you back – even if you have tried an impartial mediation service – you can apply to a county court to claim back the cash.

This process – which works slightly differently in Scotland and Northern Ireland – used to be known as taking someone to a ‘small claims court’; that term, however, refers to the procedure of pursuing the simpler cases featuring sums of less than £10,000 which would more or likely take less than a day in court to resolve.

Claim online

You can make a claim online if you’re demanding a fixed (‘specified’) amount of money. Alternatively, you can download and fill in paper claim form N1 if you’re claiming an unspecified amount of money, before sending it to County Court Money Claims Centre, PO Box 527, Salford M5 0BY. You will be charged a court fee when making a claim.

You might have to attend a court hearing if the other party denies owing the money or gives a response with which you disagree. The court can order them to pay if they do not respond to your claim or fail to repay even after admitting the debt.

If the money is still not forthcoming, you can ask the court to collect the money by other means such as the use of bailiffs. After you make your claim, the person or business who owes you money must respond to it by an agreed date.

At the court hearing, you can represent yourself, pay for a barrister or solicitor to represent you, ask someone to advise you in court – they do not have to be a legal professional or ask someone to speak on your behalf with the court’s permission

Less than £10,000

Your hearing can be held in the judge’s room or a courtroom in a county court if your claim is for less than £10,000. There might be a more formal hearing if you’re claiming for more.

You will receive a decision on the day of the hearing as well as a written copy of the decision by post.

If you win your case, the court will order the person or business who owes you money (the ‘debtor’) to pay you. If you think a mistake has been made, you can appeal against the decision of the court within 21 days of the hearing.

Robyn Baxter is Philip Elliott Associates’ legal specialist and regularly deals with the courts.