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To think there should be tough punishments for people who ignore county court judgements

(123 Posts)
ReallyTired Wed 20-Aug-08 14:36:48

My brother is an electrician. He did thousand of pounds of work on customer's house. The woman has not paid him a penny. He spent a lot of money taking her to court and won his court case. He is finding next to impossible to enforce the court ruling as he cannot afford the cost of baliefs. He is close to bankrupty himself.

I feel there should be tougher penalties for people who ignore county court judgements. There is no excuse, even if you are benefits and have kids. You should at least make an effort to pay something. Or they should learn to live within their means and not pay for housing improvements they can't afford.

Prehaps if people who ignored county court judgments were sent to jail then the court system would be fairer.

People get sent to jail for shoplifting and why is refusing to pay an honest tradesman any different.

nametaken Wed 20-Aug-08 14:42:26

I understand what you're saying. Employing a tradesman and then not paying is the same as theft IMO.

Problem is, if she genuinly doesn't have any money, she simply can't pay. If she owned her own house then the courts could sieze this, but if she doesn't then your bro is buggered.

However,she will get into serious trouble for ignoring a CCJ. She will be made a bankrupt.

Do people go to jail for stealing? I thought the jails were so full of more serious criminals there simply isn't any room left for "mere thiefs". More's the pity.

Playingthe9monthwait Wed 20-Aug-08 15:34:27

I completely agree in principle and feel very sorry for your brother but CCJs are not always that simple.

Quite a few years ago my DH made a very silly mistake. He closed his account with barclays and opened another account with another bank. No problem of course but there was an overdraft facility on this account. My DH being a daft bugger and terrible with money was sure he had £300 on this overdraft and paid it all off. A few weeks later we moved house.

Fast forward 2 1/2 years later when we want to move house again (so need to be credit checked) and we realise DH has a CCJ and had no idea what for! Turns out he actually had £400 left on his overdraft not £300. So they had chased for the £100, called in debt collects, took him to court and issued the CCJ all without him knowing because it was our old address, making the total CCJ virtually £400 by the time all the fines and costs had been added.

Now, I know this is completely his fault and of course as soon as he found out we paid it off in full. He should have checked, he should have made sure they had his new address just in case but he was a foolish 20 year old who was/is useless at paperwork and paying bills (by the way I deal with money now wink). But in his defense slightly, we never hid, were on the electoral role and Barclaycard knew where we lived, so they obviously made no real effort to track us down. Anyhow, that still doesn't make it any less his fault.

Now I suppose my point is that a stupid mistake can eventually lead to a CCJ if you move house and have a bill your simply forgot to pay. Its still your fault of course but not everyone who has ever got one is deliberately not paying bills, sometimes they are just down to stupidity. The CCJ was virtually 5 years ago and still effects our credit, as I suppose it should (although not so much now) even though everything else is perfect and of course my credit is clean. So 5 years feels long enough to pay for DH's moment of stupidity which despite being cleared 2 years ago effects us to this day.

fedupandisolated Wed 20-Aug-08 15:41:23

What are this woman's circumstances now as opposed to when she booked the work? Has her husband gone off and left her with massive debts for example? Why isn't she paying the bill - there must be some reason that she's not.

Having said that - if she isn't paying the CCJ and is living in a luxury house can't the courts (as opposed to your brother) get baliffs in to seize goods so the debt can be repaid.
And I suppose from that I'd be asking why she couldn't be selling stuff herself to repay your brother.

Terrible state of affairs if all the upfront costs have to be bourne by your brother.

ReallyTired Wed 20-Aug-08 15:48:11

"we never hid, were on the electoral role and Barclaycard knew where we lived, so they obviously made no real effort to track us down."

That is a huge difference. I am surprised that Barclaycard bothered going to the small claims court for £100. It costs more than a £100. I didn't think you could get county court judgement against you unless someone had actually taken you to court. It seems silly because it costs about £40 to pay to trace someone.

I'm talking about thousands of pounds. The woman knows that she owes the money. Its not a silly mistake. She has been taken to court and she knows she owes money. The judge set out terms for her to pay so much a week of the money owing. She has refused to pay a penny and ignored the court.

It is theft and the court system is joke.

fedupandisolated Wed 20-Aug-08 15:49:39

She is taking the piss. Terrible system which lets her.

Playingthe9monthwait Wed 20-Aug-08 15:59:29

I know Really - I was amazed they did it for £100, but they did! I was also amazed that a judgement could be made without you, but it can. I suppose they have to be able to in case someone is trying to run away from it. Apparently it is a lot more common than people think, literally all it takes is a house move and a forgotten bill! I had no idea how easy it was till I found out it had happened to us!

I think the scenrios are different but technically, in the eyes of the law, they are the same. We still ended up with a CCJ, so if everyone who had one had tougher penalties we would have suffered. It seems to make no difference whether your CCJ is £389 (I thinks that what ours was in the end with all the costs) or £10,000. There should be a distinction but there isn't. Anyhow, of course it was still DH's fault, we had to take the responisibilty, even though it felt really harsh at the time and of course still effects our credit.

Lauriefairycake Wed 20-Aug-08 16:18:00

YAB unreasonable

Thankfully it is now not a crime to be in debt (apart from council tax and tv licensing). Imagine being able to go to prison for debt - whom exactly would we not lock up - hedge fund managers grin ?

Very sorry for your brother but you cannot get blood out of a stone - I'm sure she is a horrible person but equally her circumstances may have changed and she might not have the money.

I have 2 county court judgements against people - one guy who fitted a dodgy boiler in my house - unenforceable as he cleverly keeps all his assets in his wife's name. And one against a woman who sold me a ring on ebay who claimed it was diamond - she has skipped to Canada but if she ever comes back it is still enforceable.

I got both of those for my own satisfaction. I do not expect to ever get paid.

I still don't want either of them to go to jail.

In fact i don't want the poor to be penalised any further in this country for trying to survive. There are some right scumbag companies out there exploiting people at 1600% for buying a washing machine on a fiver a week.

So while I am very sorry for your brother the affect on the poor if they went to prison for debt is too much.

KatieDD Wed 20-Aug-08 19:13:38

Or it might make people think twice before taking on debt.
The legal system at the moment is a bloody joke, it rewards the reckless and those who do pay their bills pay the price in annual charges for credit cards, interest and merchants in banking costs.
I do believe payment plans should be automatic prison if they are not adhered to, if the court agree's with you an amount you should pay then it should be paid.

newforold Wed 20-Aug-08 19:34:23

I disagree to an extent katiedd.

My daughters father left me with 2 ccj's that i knew nothing about until i got a copy of my credit file yrs later to apply for a mortgage. He had put utility bills in my name after we had split.

Once a ccj has been granted there is a very limited time in which to appeal. After that time you have no recourse and simply have to pay or have that ccj on your file ruining your ability to obtain credit if you wish to do so.

I have always worked and pay my bills. I am not a bill dodger. I loathe the fact that i was labelled as someone who is unwilling to pay when i had no knowledge of those debts.

KatieDD Wed 20-Aug-08 19:43:22

But you would have the chance to explain that to the court.
Therefore completely different senrio

TheHedgeWitch Wed 20-Aug-08 20:00:06

Message withdrawn

nametaken Wed 20-Aug-08 20:00:23

Hmmmm, I'm confused. Are people here saying that if you don't pay a CCJ you don't get punished? Coz I always thought you got made bankrupt for not paying a CCJ.

nametaken Wed 20-Aug-08 20:00:40

Hmmmm, I'm confused. Are people here saying that if you don't pay a CCJ you don't get punished? Coz I always thought you got made bankrupt for not paying a CCJ.

TheHedgeWitch Wed 20-Aug-08 20:03:23

Message withdrawn

KatieDD Wed 20-Aug-08 20:04:24

No you don't automatically get made bankrupts at all and bankruptsy means nothing these days, if you owned half a house with your Dh and you were made bankrupt, you would sell your half to him for £5k and keep the house too.
It really is very hard to enforce payment these days, nobody likes to be seen to be not nice you see, never mind the poor sod that's done the work, paid for the materials etc.

findtheriver Wed 20-Aug-08 20:05:32

I completely agree with you ReallyTired. The system is a joke. It's all very well saying poor woman, her circumstances may have changed - well what about the knock on for people like your brother who is now in danger of bankruptcy. I think too many people are willing to run up debts and completely disengage from taking any personal responsibility. It's as though they imagine it doesnt affect other people, it's just 'paper money'. Well, it damn well does. It can make other people's lives hell, and IMO is absolutely no better than theft. This woman has taken your brother's time, expertise and probably equipment, and deprived him of the money he could have been otherwise earning.

expatinscotland Wed 20-Aug-08 20:15:51

She should apply for bankrupcy if she is that insolvent.

However, as long as fuckers like Gary Glitter and Chris Langham get out of jail in mere months for offenses like downloading child porn, I don't see what the hell business we have putting people in jail for debt.

Jail should be for people who commit violent offenses or offenses like kiddie porn and the sentences for such should be far longer.

findtheriver Wed 20-Aug-08 20:21:14

I think the issue of violent offenders needing longer sentences is a separate one though. I DON'T agree that jail should only be for violence. Someone who inflicts this kind of emotional cruelty on others - screwing other people over and not giving a damn about the consequences for them and their families deserve jail too.

expatinscotland Wed 20-Aug-08 20:26:05

I disagree entirely, find. Especially given the historical precendence towards jailing for debts and for being poor in this country.

It is NOT a road the UK needs to go down again.

A rather awful part of its history.

surreylady Wed 20-Aug-08 20:28:30

Know where you are coming from Reallytired. We also had a CCJ against a contracting agent who owed our company many thousands. The frustration for me was that - CCJ has little/no impact and to take it further YOU have to pay for the baliff etc etc - not forgetting that your brother also paid the court fees which are simply added to the debt - so I agree with you system is not fair and weighted in favour of those happy to steal services from others. I wouldn't go so far as Jail but would like to think that there was some enforcement - it may deter some people if they knew there were consequences - currently they know there are not. Interesting the amount of people asking about her circumstances - if this was you and you genuinely had a problem paying- would you not let the tradesman know and try and do something to help - if you simply don't pay that is deliberate IMO. Got that off my chest ow then!

KatieDD Wed 20-Aug-08 20:41:52

I'm not suggesting a 6 month sentence but for most normal people even a few days away from their home comforts would be enough to focus the mind on repaying what they owe.
I for one am utterly sick of reading on the likes of MSE expert about people who owe £40k through just living off credit cards, how does that happen ?
If missing a payment to an individual, maybe not Barclay card etc meant a short stay in prison I'm quite sure it would change the UK's attitude to debt full stop, people used to be ashamed to live in debt you know.

findtheriver Wed 20-Aug-08 20:43:03

We're not talking about jailing for being poor though expat. Poor people don't generally run up thousands of pounds of debt having work done on their house, for example, as the OP described. We're talking about screwing other people over without giving a damn about the impact it will have on them and their dependents. The person I feel sorry for is the OP's brother, who may well end up poor, bankrupt and homeless, which will no doubt have a damaging effect on his family, simply because of someone else's lack greed and nastiness.

expatinscotland Wed 20-Aug-08 20:44:35

but people here have demonstrated situations in which their actions can be construed as 'fucking over' others when in fact that wasn't the case.

findtheriver Wed 20-Aug-08 20:45:03

good point surreylady. If this was someone who had a cashflow problem, or the likes, you would expect them to play fair and at least tell the person they owe money to. Sounds from the OP as though this woman has simply screwed someone else over.

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