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Can A Credit Card Company Over-Rule Or "fail To Recognise" A County Court Judgement?

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Kiki-frog | 22:09 Wed 18th Dec 2013 | Law
19 Answers
My OH divorced in 2006 and as part of the final settlement it was agreed that his ex-wife would be liable for various debts, including a rather large credit card bill.

A couple of weeks back we received a letter addressed to his ex (who has never lived at our house nor has ever been anywhere near it), which OH opened, thinking it was for him because the surname was the same. The letter was from a solicitors/debt collectors, asking her to contact them about repaying the credit card debt.

OH phoned them the next day, and was told that he should have received a letter as well because the credit card was in their joint names. He then photocopied the divorce agreement paperwork and forwarded it to them, asking them to reply in writing by return post to confirm that he was not liable for the debt, and that there would be no bad debt record against our property.

He received no reply, so phoned them today, and it transpired that although they had our address for his ex (they weren't able to explain how they got this address), his correspondence, including their reply to his letter, had been sent to their old marital home which had been sold about 10 years ago. All a bit bizarre, but evidently someone had been a bit incompetent.

But the worrying thing is that they told him that the credit card company were refusing to recognise the County Court judgement and therefore he was still liable for the debt. And it has transpired that his ex, who had originally agreed to pay the debt off in monthly instalments, had stopped the payments in 2009 when she remarried, changed her name and moved house.

Of course, no one knows her new name or her address, so the credit card company are now going for the easy option and trying to get money out of OH.

So my question is, can they disregard the Court judgement, or are they just trying to scare OH into paying the debt? And what is his legal position?

Sorry this is so long-winded, but any help or advice would be much appreciated.


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The debt was (and remains) 'joint and several' meaning that the credit card company has the right to pursue either party for the debt. The CCJ can't change that. It simply means that, if the former wife refuses to pay it directly, your OH has the right to pursue her for the money that he is being forced to pay back to the credit card company.
23:17 Wed 18th Dec 2013
Are the Credit Card company a party to the agreement/Court Judgement? Or is that Judgement just an agreement covering your OH and his ex wife as to who is responsible for providing the money to pay the bill.
Question Author
Thanks, factor, I think you've hit the nail on the head here. It would appear to be the latter, although OH is under the impression that his solicitor at the time would have addressed this. But if the Court ruled that the ex was liable for these debts, then would the credit card company have the clout to over-rule that? Surely not!
You've got a bit of a problem here. if a court said that she should pay but she hasn't the card company will still want their money. they will apply the terms agreed when the card was taken out. your only recourse is to take her to court for the money. this will take so long that meanwhile your own credit rating will be trashed unless you pay the card company. it may seem harsh to you but that's the way it is.
Question Author
Thanks, browntrout, this seems to be the attitude the credit card company is taking. Maybe this is one of those instances where there's a difference between legality and morality. I'm inclined to let things go to court if that's what it takes, just because of principles.

But I guess it looks like bye-bye, kitchen extension. :-(
Question Author
And I want to make it clear that I'm f*****g mad as hell about this!!
The debt was (and remains) 'joint and several' meaning that the credit card company has the right to pursue either party for the debt. The CCJ can't change that. It simply means that, if the former wife refuses to pay it directly, your OH has the right to pursue her for the money that he is being forced to pay back to the credit card company.
I'd be f***ing mad as well. but with the ex-wife for dropping you in it like this. you can't really blame the card company, they just want what is due to them.
I think you have every right to be "f***ing mad" kiki. Hope it all works out OK for you and that you get your kitchen extension. x
That the ex-wife should pay the debt was just an agreement between the divorcing parties. It's not binding on the finance company - after all, how were they to know? I doubt your OH did anything to remove his name from the debt, not that the credit card company would have agreed easily.

Had he not acknowledged the letter that arrived recently it is likely the debt would have been statute barred. This means that if he had not been in contact with the credit card company for at least six years, not had received any communication from them, the company would not be unable to enforce the debt. It would show on his credit rating, though, and this assumes that he informed the company of all changes of address.
Question Author
Flippin heck, how much worse can this get? So it appears that Mr Frog, in behaving honestly, has actually landed us both in it.

Can I just ask anyone with a legal background, what would be the best course of action now?
take proper legal advice from a solicitor. I think CAB (citizens advice bureau) still give free advice if that helps.
if the ex paid in 2009 then the debt will not be affected by the statute barred principle. (less than 6 years since the debt was acknowledged - by making a payment).
Question Author
Thanks, browntrout, but I'm out of my depth here. You obviously know what you're talking about, so can you provide a link where we can look at the legal facts in idiot-speak?

Thanks, all, I really appreciate your advice.
Yes, browntrout is correct. I missed the 2009 payments. Apologies for irrelevant info.
I can't do links ( i'm a techno-phobe). but....... Martin Lewis, money saving expert certainly covers the statute barred stuff (and probably the rest). just google divorce/debts for the rest (make sure you're looking at a UK thing, not some American botox.
Question Author
Thanks for all your help, people. The debt collectors have said that they'll put procedures on hold until mid-January to give us time to get legal advice.

We're a bit stuck with not knowing what the ex's new married name and address are. My step-daughter would know, but we really don't want her caught in the crossfire. Not quite sure what we're going to do about this, but we'll think of something.

Anyway, thanks again for all the help.
You say this is a credit card. I may be wrong, but my understanding is that normally credit cards are not issued in joint names. The first card is issued in the name of one of the parties, & a second card is issued in the name of the other. BUT it is only the person who has the first card that is liable. For example, if I have a Mastercard & my wife has a second card on the same account it is only me who is responsible for the debt.

So your OH needs to check & be absolutely certain he does have a legal responsibility.

If he does, I don't think the divorce court ruling will have any bearing on the matter.

If possible go to CAB for advice.
Good point, themas. I suppose that if it were a debit card, where each transaction is instantly debited to the account and it was on a joint account, rather than a credit card, each party to the joint account would be 'jointly and severally liable'. Can't see any reason why debit cards wouldn't be issued for joint accounts and on those terms, but you are surely right about credit cards; none of my visa or Amex cards makes anyone other than me, as the principal card holder, liable. My partner and daughter aren't liable.

I agree - debit cards are joint & several.

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