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What constitues an acknowledgement of a debt?


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I retired overseas almost six years ago and am seeking advice regarding the Statute of Limitations in respect of acknowledging any debts.When I moved here I was not running away from debts, it was always my plan to move, though I had got into a bit of a pickle with some credit cards, one had actually resulted in a CCJ over six years ago.

 

Following my move I attempted to service some of the debts, though a couple had already defaulted, after a while they wore me down with their threats, I was struggling to meet the minimum payments and I simply gave up, at the time it was a relief.I received shed loads of correspondence from credit card companies and later a myriad of debt collection companies,

 

I opened up a post office box to communicate with them, and have moved home three times and they don't know my current address, apart from the PO Box.In my correspondence I quoted their various reference numbers and advised them about my inability to service debts but I'm not sure if these are regarded as acknowledging debts. Apart from the reference numbers, I used generic terms like " I cannot service any debts at present" and " it is my intention to do so if my circumstances improve".

 

Some of these debts are now on the verge of possibly becoming Statute Barred, certainly some from before the date of my move to SE Asia, but I'm not sure about when the clock would start ticking for the others where I have been sending generic letters.It is not my intention to ever return to the UK, but I can never say never.I haven't heard from any of the creditors, or their DCO's for more than twelve months, no statments, letters or anything. I would be grateful for a view.Thanks

Edited by Conniff
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Hi the quote of " I cannot service my debts at present it is my intention to do so when my circumstances change" could be taken as an admission of the debt and restart the 6 years of the statute barred clock.

 

The experts will be along later with their opinion on this question.

 

dpick

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It's a good question - and there isn't really a general rule as each case would normally be considered under its own merits. An acknowledgement would need to demonstrate some sort of admission of liability - and it would need to be specifically in relation to 'the debt' in question. Simply saying I cannot service my debts wouldn't (imo) count as acknowledgment - saying I cannot afford to service the debt I owe your company probably would. If it EVER gets to court it'll be down to the judges interpretation on the balance of probabilities.

 

Hope this helps!

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Personally I wouldn't worry, looking at where you're residing there is little to zero chance of them doing anything other than issuing the odd threat topped with some bluster with the odd willy waving.

 

Even if they could take enforcement action for the existing CCJ, which is doubtful as there are no reciprocal agreements between the UK & there, it would cost them far too much money, time & energy even if the paperwork was in order (which again is doubtful) & particularly because it is over six years old.

 

As for the other alleged debts, again they would need to take action in the courts there using UK law which covers any agreements & similarly it would cost them far too much considering what they would have paid for the debt.

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Thanks guys.Not too concerned as, apart from the odd trip to blighty, I don't expect to return, but sometimes I do wonder.

Edited by theoldgit
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  • 2 weeks later...

If the CCJ is over six years old & they haven't taken enforcement then their right to do so is now Statute Barred;

 

A CCJ doesn't become SB, but unless they enforce it within six years they will have to apply to a court for permission to do so however;

 

Section 24 of the Limitations Act 1980....

 

(1) An action shall not be brought upon any judgment after the expiration of six years from the date on which the judgment became enforceable.

 

(2) No arrears of interest in respect of any judgment debt shall be recovered after the expiration of six years from the date on which the interest became due.

 

For this reason alone, cc judges would not normally allow enforcement.

 

There is case law to suggest that 6 years is enough time for a claimant to enforce a judgment debt. In Patel v Singh [2002] EWCA Civ 1938 and Duer v Frazer [2001] 1 All ER 249 leave to enforce these debts were both refused.

 

The reason being is that it was held that the general rule is that the passing of six years is sufficient in itself and the court would not extend time unless there were exceptional circumstances and it is demonstrably just to do so. It would be for the creditor to argue the reasons for delay and argue why they should take the case out of the general rule.

 

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s24 has no application to the enforcement of judgments, it's only to do with the bringing of fresh action - lowsley v forbes.

 

after 6 years the rest of your post is accurate (i think I posted it up originally :) )

 

Also consider The Society of Lloyd's v Longtin [2005] EWHC 2492 - which allowed leave for enforcement where the judgment creditor was trying to enforce the debt for a number of years.

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