Does Statute Barred Mean My Debt is Written Off?

Posted by Tom Magor in Dealing with Debt on 10 January 2018 - Tom is a Senior Credit Analyst at checkmyfile.

If you look around on the internet for debt advice you might see one questionable tip popping up from time to time: ‘don’t pay off your debts, wait six years for it to become statute barred and you’ll be home scot-free.’ If this sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is, and if you think it’ll be without consequence you could be in for a nasty surprise.

What does statute barred mean?

When a debt has become Statute Barred, it means a sufficient amount of time has passed that it can no longer be enforced through the courts. It doesn't mean the debt has been written off, however and the creditor can still legally pursue you for the debt through other means, such as a collections agency.

A debt will be deemed statute barred after a set period of time (defined by the type of debt, most commonly 6 years) if the following takes place:

  • The creditor has not already taken court action
  • No payments have been made in relation to the debt within the set time period
  • No acknowledgement has been made by the borrower to the lender that they owe them money within the set time period

If any of these events were to occur, the time before the debt becomes statute barred is reset. A lender can still continue to pursue an outstanding balance once a debt is considered statute barred, but not through the courts. This in in accordance with the Limitation Act 1980 which provides timescales within which certain actions may be taken to recover outstanding sums.

Are debts really written off after 6 years?

After six years have passed, your debt may be declared statute barred - this means that the debt still very much exists but a CCJ cannot be issued to retrieve the amount owed and the lender cannot go through the courts to chase you for the debt. That is not to say that lenders cannot use other means of retrieving what you owe, with debt collectors often proving a viable option.

Statute barred status does not apply for every type of debt, and some forms may require a longer waiting period before statute barred can come into effect, so hoping that a debt will become invalid after six years have passed might lead to further issues later.

The length of time before a debt becomes statute barred will depend on the type of debt; the six year period set out by the Limitation Act refers mostly to unsecured debts such as a personal loan. Outstanding mortgage payments have a twelve year recovery period but tax, duty or related interest payments do not have a time limit for recovery. That means the debt can never become statute barred and a court judgment could be issued at any time.

As mentioned previously, the ‘start point’ of the 6 year period is determined by the time you last made a payment towards the debt or acknowledged to the creditors that you owe an outstanding debt. That means it’s not a straightforward 6 years since the missed payment, if you have recently been in touch with the lenders to find out how much time remains until the debt is statute barred, that could be enough to start the clock again.

Additionally, at any time before a default is due to expire a lender may be able to issue a CCJ in an attempt to recover payments. CCJ markers last on your credit file for another 6 years, turning that initial six year wait into 12 years before your credit file no longer has any trace of your outstanding debt.

How does it affect my credit file?

A statute barred status will not appear on your credit file, but any of the negative markers associated with that credit account will remain for six years from the date of issue.

If your debt remains unpaid, your debt may be passed on to a debt collection agency who will need to access your credit file to verify your whereabouts. When your credit file is checked by debt collectors, a search footprint is left on your credit file. These are different to the ones left behind when you or a lender checks your report and they show lenders that a debt collection agency have been involved in recovering a past debt. This can make it very difficult to get accepted for any kind of loan or finance for the two years that the footprint remains on your report.

See how court records appear on your credit report

Does a debt die with you?

If a debtor were to pass away, any outstanding debts are paid using their estate, which comprises of any property and money that they leave behind. When someone dies their estate is handled by the executors and any outstanding sums are settled before the remaining funds are distributed to the beneficiaries. Debts are only settled if they are joint credit agreements or are in the sole name of the deceased person. You don’t become automatically responsible for your husband’s, wife’s or civil partner’s debts.

How can I see how much is left on my debt?

All debts and loans, whether satisfied or ongoing are shown on your checkmyfile credit report until the end of the six years that they are reported. By clicking on the loan in question you’ll be able to see more information, including when the debt will expire and how long it will be recorded.

You can try checkmyfile FREE for 30 days, then for just £14.99 a month, which you can cancel online at any time. You'll get complete access to the UK's most detailed credit report, along with the support of our professionally-qualified Credit Analysts.

Does a Debt Management Plan Affect Your Credit Rating?

If you’re feeling increasingly overwhelmed by debt and aren’t sure what steps you can take next, the most important thing to remember is that there is plenty of help available and different solutions designed to get your finances back on the straight and narrow.

Published on 18 Jun 2019 by Kevin Pearce

Full Article

Late Payments & Defaults: What's The Difference?

When a lender checks your Credit Report, one of the most important elements it considers is payment history as reported to the Credit Reference Agencies. On a perfect applicant’s Credit Report, every credit account would be reported with a clean payment history, indicating that they are a low risk to the prospective lender, but in the real world this isn’t always the case.

Published on 23 Apr 2019 by Tom Blandford

Full Article

Do I Owe a Debt If It's Not On My Credit Report?

Information that appears on your Credit Report should (in most cases) follow a fairly predictable lifecycle. But don’t think that if an unpaid debt no longer shows up, you’re no longer responsible for it.

Published on 21 Apr 2019 by Tom Blandford

Full Article

Do I Have a Default? How to Find Out

For lots of lenders, coming across a Default on your Credit Report is a troubling sign. It’s certainly more serious than a missed payment or arrears on your file, which are likely to have less of an impact on your chances of being approved. A Default represents a key moment in the eyes of a lender: it shows that on a previous credit agreement you stopped being a borrower and became a debtor.

Published on 29 Mar 2019 by Jamie Mackenzie Smith

Full Article

Do I Have a CCJ? How To Find Out

If you have a County Court Judgment (CCJ) in your name, it can have a serious impact on your Credit Score and ability to borrow for the entire time it is active, as well as potentially affect the outcome of the checks carried out by prospective employers, landlords and insurers.

Published on 26 Mar 2019 by Jamie Mackenzie Smith

Full Article

How Bankruptcy Affects Your Credit Rating

In terms of negative information that could appear on your Credit Report, evidence of bankruptcy or other forms of insolvency is about as serious as it gets and it’s likely to adversely affect your ability to take out new forms of credit for a considerable amount of time.

Published on 7 Mar 2019 by Tom Magor

Full Article

Insolvency and its effect on your credit score

Contrary to the belief of some, insolvency is not a ‘get out of jail free card’. When you are declared insolvent, the entry remains reported for six years on your Credit File and will continue to pose a significant barrier to your chances of obtaining credit – even after the insolvency is discharged.

Published on 30 Jan 2019 by Tom Blandford

Full Article

Can you go to prison for debt

The short answer is: yes, you can go to prison for debt, but only if you fail to pay your council tax, any magistrates fines, TV license or fees relating to a motoring offense, and even then there are plenty of methods that are usually tried before a prison sentence is carried out.

Published on 22 Aug 2018 by Barry Stamp

Full Article

Northampton Court CCJ – Why is it on my Credit Report?

If you’ve been issued with a CCJ, chances are that it could appear on your Credit Report as having come from Northampton County Court Business Centre (CCBC), even if you or the claimant have no ties with Northampton whatsoever.

Published on 31 Jul 2018 by Jamie Mackenzie Smith

Full Article

What Happens When You Miss a Payment?

Late payments are a reasonably common entry on Credit Reports. They can occur against all kinds of credit agreements: everything from mortgages to store cards and unless you have a Direct Debit set up to make repayments automatically each month, you’re reliant on remembering to physically make your repayments each month. For a lot of people, this is where mistakes happen.

Published on 6 Jul 2018 by Kiah Phillips

Full Article
keyboard_arrow_left

keyboard_arrow_right

We are rated number 1 for customer service on