Money and debt advice and support

Credit reference agencies, court orders and complaints

Credit Reference Agencies 

When you take out credit or fall behind with payments, the lender may send this information to a credit reference agency. 

County Court Judgments and formal arrangements such as debt relief orders, bankruptcies and IVAs are always recorded at credit reference agencies. Once information is on your record, it remains there for six years, unless you successfully challenge it. 

When you ask for credit, the lender will probably check your record at a credit reference agency. Based on this and other information about you, the lender will then make their decision as to whether to lend to you and how much.  

Find out more about credit reference agencies from the Information Commissioners Office.

Magistrates’ courts and county courts 

County courts deal with civil cases, including most cases about personal debt. They are not there to decide whether someone is “innocent” or “guilty” and there are no juries. County courts do not issue fines and do not imprison anyone for debt. The court generally deals with County Court Judgments by post, with no court hearing. 

  Possession hearings, for example for mortgage or rent arrears, are usually held in private, with just the judge, claimant, defendant (and perhaps their representatives) present. 

The county court in Newham is Bow County Court.  

The High Court deals with more complex civil cases, including bankruptcy. Other than this, cases about personal debt rarely go to the High Court. 

  Magistrates’ courts deal with criminal and some civil cases, including not having a TV licence, Council Tax arrears and Child Support arrears. The magistrates can impose fines for, for example, traffic offences. The magistrates’ court in Newham is Stratford Magistrates’ Court. 

 The Crown Court deals with serious criminal matters. 

Complaining about a creditor 

Nobody likes being chased for debts, but there are some instances in which you may have a valid reason to complain. You may for example wish to complain to a creditor or debt collection company if they are: 

  • Pursuing you for money that you do not owe 
  • Demanding unreasonably large collection charges or 
  • Calling you at a time of day you have asked them not to call. 

The Financial Ombudsman Service can help. They provide information on how to complain, can tell the creditor about your complaint and, if you have not had a satisfactory response within eight weeks, can look at your complaint.