Plans to protect consumers from unresolved debts stemming from unfair county court judgments (CCJs) have been revealed in a government move to tackle concerns about ‘rogue companies’ such as parking enforcement businesses. 

A consultation paper, published today, aims to consider how CCJs are issued, after concerns were raised that some companies are deliberately sending claims to incorrect addresses.

This can severely impact credit ratings and the issue may come to light only years later when an application for a mortgage or loan is rejected.

Proposals include:

  • Striking a CCJ from the register immediately once unknown debts are resolved and a judge agrees the person was unaware
  • Protecting consumers who do not receive mail because it is sent to an old address
  • A government information campaign providing a ‘centralised, trusted source’ to raise awareness and help people deal with unresolved debts.

Justice minister Dominic Raab said: ‘We want to protect vulnerable consumers from abuse by rogue companies that can destroy the credit rating of innocent people without them even knowing about it. Debts should be paid, not exploited by a minority of cowboys who need reining in.’

Over the past four years, the number of CCJs has risen by almost two thirds (59%), with more than one million issued in 2016.

The government said it has spent a year gathering evidence and has been in conversation with consumer groups and advice organisations to assess the scale of the issue and ensure the right proposals are made. It is also considering standardised practice across parking companies, eliminating unfair charges and reducing the instances of claims where the consumer may be unaware of a parking charge being applied.