What are your legal rights when you're in debt?

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Date: 3 March 2020

A stressed man reads a debt collection letter and worries about his legal rights.

It's important to be aware of your legal rights when a creditor is pursuing you to repay a debt. Read on to learn about the legal privileges afforded to you if you're struggling to make repayments. 

Your creditor must send the right documents

It is sensible on your part to check that your creditor has sent you the correct documents when asking for repayment of your debt. If your creditor has delivered the wrong ones, or none at all, you are in a position to challenge the claim in a court of law.

When you borrow from a money lender, you are asked to sign an agreement that attempts to identify the relationship between debtor and creditor. The Consumer Credit Act covers most credit agreements.

Find out whether your credit agreement is covered under the Consumer Credit Act or not. Under the Act, your creditor is legally bound to follow the correct process when claiming their debt. He or she must send you:

  • a default notice;
  • a letter of claim;
  • a claim pack.

If your agreement is not covered under the Act, your creditor isn't liable to send you a default notice - but they must still send you a letter of claim and a claim pack. If your creditor is not following the correct procedures, or skips steps, you can challenge your creditor in a court of law.

Don't stress if your creditor has already filed a legal action against you. To find out what your rights are, contact an expert for advice about your particular circumstances.

You can request 'breathing space'

When facing financial difficulties, you should communicate with your creditors to inform them about your situation. Most of the time, lending institutions are required to offer you at least 30 days' 'breathing space' if you owe them outstanding payments.

These 30 days are given so that you can seek professional help from debt advice organizations and online debt management tools, to get better control of your finances.

During this time, your creditors are not allowed to pressurize you with constant reminder calls and follow-up letters. They are required to put a hold on calls and letters while you get to grips with the situation.

Some letters are sent to you as part of legal action, and not by the creditor. If this is the case, it is not feasible to put a hold on these. Note also that it is your legal right to request 30 days' breathing space, but your creditor is entitled to add interest to your debt, to cover the additional time taken to repay.

You can review County Court Judgments

If you don't agree with a judgment that has been made against you by a County Court, you can request the court to review it, amend it, change the payments or even cancel the judgment entirely.

This process is called 'redetermination.' You don't need to fill in an official form; a formal letter to the court will do the job.

You can request redetermination if any of the following happen: 

  • you are not financially capable of making the payments;
  • you have acknowledged the judgment and made an offer of payment to your creditor, but they are not accepting it;
  • the court has set a payment plan for you without a hearing. 

Copyright 2020. Article was made possible by site supporter Selina David, Lead SEO Analyst at Globex Outreach. It is my job to help clients build their online business and to share my experiences with the world through my writing.

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