Pay Up! Collecting Debt in the UK

Woman handing out money

Woman handing out moneyEspecially with rent in arrears, debt collecting can be an uncomfortable bit of business for most people. However, while there are legal frameworks in place to make sure that debtors pay their debts, it does one well to know what options are available to them when collecting a debt.

Country Court Judgments

County Court Judgments, or CCJ, are court orders issued in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that might be used against someone who has failed to repay you.

Before the issuance of a CCJ, the creditor must first send the debtor a default notice or a warning letter in order to let them know that their debt must be paid, or else legal action will be taken against them

County Court Judgments will include instructions for the debtor on how and when they can repay their debt; with supplemental warnings of further legal escalation should they fail to clear their debt.

Debt Collectors

Debt collectors, despite their name, actually do not have any legal power to collect a debt from people. Unlike Bailiffs, debt collectors cannot seize debtor assets to pay off debt. Although they can visit a debtor’s home, they cannot enter without explicit permission from the homeowner.

Debt collectors can, however, pressure debtors to pay using a variety of non-threatening techniques, such as phone calls and letters. If a debtor has a credit card linked to a current account in the same bank, debt collectors can charge the debt on the credit card. While debt collectors are allowed to dip into your account, they must send you prior notice.


Although bailiffs have more legal power than debt collectors, there are still multiple laws that govern their actions. However, bailiffs can still exercise vast powers that debt collectors can’t.

Bailiffs normally handle commercial rent recovery, but can likewise be employed by the High Court, to enforce CCJ’s. Bailiffs can go to debtors’ homes, but they are also required to send a notice of their arrival at least seven days in advance.

Unlike debt collectors, bailiffs are legally allowed to force their way into debtors’ homes, but only as a last resort. Bailiffs can also seize debtor’s assets and personal property to cover the debt to creditors.