You have received this notice because a business intends to take you to court in relation to a debt. This notice tells you what to do next, including how to avoid court action. Please read it carefully.
What should I do now to make sure I am not taken to court unnecessarily?
Read the enclosed letter from the business very carefully. Think about whether you owe the debt and whether the amount is correct. The letter should provide information about how much money you owe, and any interest and fees added to the debt. If it does not, ask the business for more information. Once you have read the letter, consider the following options.
• Seeking debt advice – If you are in financial difficulty or need advice to help you work out whether you owe the debt, or how you might pay the debt, contact a debt advisor (particularly if you haven’t been in contact with the business for a number of years). The following organisations offer free, impartial, and non-judgemental advice:
|Citizens Advice||03444 111 444 (England) 03444 772 020 (Wales)||www.citizensadvice.org.uk|
|Civil Legal Advice||0345 345 4345||www.gov.uk/civil-legal-advice|
|StepChange Debt Charity||0800 138 1111 (Freephone)||www.stepchange.org|
|National Debtline||0808 808 4000 (Freephone)||www.nationaldebtline.org|
|AdviceUK||0300 777 0107||www.adviceuk.org.uk|
|Christians Against Poverty||0800 328 0006 (Freephone)||www.capuk.org|
It is recommended that you get debt advice if you have any doubt about whether you owe the debt or whether you can pay it now. If you don’t have a copy of the agreement (contract) between you and the business, and you need this to decide what to do next or to help you get debt advice, you can ask the business to provide you with a copy.
• Speaking to the business – If you agree you owe the debt and want to talk to the business about payment terms, or if you have any questions or concerns, get in touch with the business as soon as possible. Their contact details should be in the letter they sent you.
• Filling in the Reply Form – If you have not been able to resolve the matter by speaking to the business, you should fill in the Reply Form that was provided with the letter from the business, and then send it back to the business. You should complete the Reply Form with as much information as possible to avoid court action being taken against you.
How long do I have to fill in the Reply Form?
You only have 30 days from the date at the top of the letter from the business to send back the Reply Form. If the business does not get your Reply Form within 30 days, it could take you to court in relation to the debt. Make sure you allow time for posting. If a court orders you to pay an amount of money (called “having judgment entered against you”), details of the judgment will usually be entered on the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines. Most entries stay on the Register for six years unless you pay the amount you owe within one month of the judgment. Organisations such as banks, building societies and credit companies use the information on the Register when someone applies for credit, such as a loan or overdraft. It helps them decide whether or not that person would be able to pay off a debt.
What happens if I fill in and return the Reply Form in time?
If you return the Reply Form within 30 days, you and the business will have at least a further 30 days to discuss the debt, or for you to seek debt advice, before the business takes you to court. During that time, you should discuss with the business how you can resolve the matter, ideally without going to court. If you request more information in the Reply Form, the business must wait at least 30 days after it gives you that information before taking you to court.
Where can I find out more?
This Information Sheet is a summary of your rights and responsibilities under the Pre-Action Protocol for Debt Claims. Where a business and an individual disagree about a debt claim, the Protocol tells them what they should do before they go to court. If you want to know more, the full Protocol is available at: https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/protocol.
What do you want to do?
You can either make payment now or complete the reply form.