Article by Sam Griffin - 28th May 2021

What Boris Johnson's CCJ Might Mean For You

On 12 May, Private Eye unveiled a story that, just for a moment, made The Right Honourable Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson seem an ordinary bloke. A County Court Judgment was issued against the Prime Minister in October 2020, for the relatively small sum of £535. What’s more, he didn’t even know about it.

The shock of discovering a surprise CCJ isn’t anything particularly newsworthy – in fact, it’s cheerlessly common. But when it happens to ostensibly powerful and wealthy public figures, it might be enough to garner some sympathy. After all, he has had a lot on his plate recently.

The media machine stirred up a storm of speculation around the mysterious CCJ. What was it for? Can’t Boris afford £535? How do you not notice a Court Judgment?

Now that the hype has died down and some actual answers have come to light, it’s easy to see how someone – regardless of their position – can find themselves in this situation.

What was the CCJ for?

According to the Guardian, the CCJ was issued by a ‘Covid conspiracy theorist’ who claimed the Prime Minister had defamed them, to the tune of just £535, apparently.

It sounds like an obviously invalid judgment, and the court agreed.

It’s thought that Boris’ CCJ was issued in default (meaning it was undefended) because the court’s correspondence went unnoticed. It’s possible that the CCJ notice got lost amid all the fan-mail that gets pushed through Number 10’s letterbox every day.

Boris’ legal team were able to dispute the CCJ and have it eradicated within days, leaving no trace but a glut of news articles dated 12 May about BoJo’s mystery judgment. And like that, the story was forgotten, and our shared attention has moved onto something else.

What happened to Boris – finding an unexpected County Court Judgment, months after issue – also happens to ‘regular’ people, but the consequences for them are likely to be more severe. Over one million CCJs are issued each year, and if the Prime Minister and his office can fail to notice a CCJ, it’s no surprise that those of us who aren’t supported by an entire staff miss CCJ notices too from time to time.

How might the CCJ have affected Boris?

Honestly, this £535 CCJ is likely to have been nothing more than an annoying inconvenience to the Prime Minister. He has an extensive and experienced legal team to defend him, Number 10 staff to act on his behalf, and the wealth and power to shrug off the financial impact of such a claim.

But for the average person without those advantages, a CCJ can carry some serious consequences.

Once issued, details of the CCJ will be stamped on your Credit Report for six years, showing the total amount owed, date of issue, status (active or satisfied), and which Credit Reference Agencies are reporting the data. Lenders, landlords, and employers will then be able to see the CCJ when they run a credit check on you.

CCJs are among the most serious markers that can plague your Credit Report. They will severely damage your Credit Rating, regardless of whether the balance is subsequently paid, and you will likely find it harder and more expensive to take out credit, such as a mortgage. Judgments can even make getting a job or finding a place to rent more difficult. Unchecked, these can be real life-changing problems.

The CCJ will only stop harming your creditworthiness once it has been removed from your Credit Report. This happens automatically after six years pass from date of issue (for BoJo, this would have been October 2026) or by taking the Prime Minister’s approach and disputing the CCJ through the courts to have it set aside.

What happens when a CCJ is set aside?

CCJs are typically set aside for two reasons: either when they are found to be invalid (as was the case with Johnson’s) or when they are paid in full within the first 30 days of issue. The result should be the same: the judgment is struck from the Registry Trust and there’ll be no record of it. The CCJ will therefore have no negative impact on your Credit Rating either, as it won’t appear on your Credit Report after being set aside.

Failing to do either of these will result in the CCJ sticking to your Credit Report for the full six years.

How can you check the status of your CCJ?

Put simply, if Boris Johnson had checked his Credit Report any time after October 2020, he would’ve seen the CCJ for himself. If not for Private Eye, the CCJ would likely still be lodged against him, and he might not have noticed it at all.

Contrast to us more regular folk: if we have a CCJ that we don’t know about, we’d probably start seeing signs of financial difficulty. We might fail to get a mortgage or face steep interest rates; our Credit Score might drop drastically; or maybe we can’t get accepted as a rental tenant.

It’s a perfect example of why it’s important to check your Credit Report regularly. Boris could’ve avoided the whole media frenzy that followed this story, if he just undertook the easiest of financial routine: checking his Credit Report online now and then.

You can do what Boris should have done, with checkmyfile. By collating your information from Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, and Crediva, your Multi Agency Credit Report is the most detailed in the UK, ensuring you don’t miss anything important.

If a CCJ has been lodged against you, you’ll be able to see its details on your Credit Report. Our credit analysts are just a click away if you need some online help with your Credit Report.

It’s free for 30 days, and then £14.99 per month. Cancel easily online at any time.

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