How to remove a Civil Judgment Against Your Name

01 July 2024 ,  Crystelle Steyn 35

A civil judgment is a court's decision in a civil lawsuit that determines the rights and obligations of the parties involved. In the context of debt, it often means that a creditor has successfully sued a debtor for failing to pay a debt, resulting in a court order to repay the owed amount.

A judgment against your name can have severe consequences, impacting your credit rating, ability to secure loans, and overall financial health. However, it is possible to have such judgments removed through various legal and procedural steps.

Steps to Remove a Civil Judgment:

1. Settle the Debt:

The first step towards removing a civil judgment is to settle the outstanding debt. Contact the creditor or Attorneys on behalf of the creditor to negotiate a payment plan or pay the debt in full.

2. Obtain a Satisfaction of Judgment:

After settling the debt, request a "Satisfaction of Judgment" or “Paid-up letter” document from the creditor. This document serves as proof that the debt has been paid in full. You can then submit this proof to the court that issued the original judgment. The court will update its records to reflect that the judgment has been satisfied alternatively apply for a Rescission of judgment.

3. Apply for Rescission of Judgment:

If judgment was granted without you knowing and you believe the judgment was unfair or incorrect, you can apply for a rescission of judgment. This process involves convincing the court that there was a valid reason (such as not receiving the summons) and you only became aware later of the judgment and that you have valid grounds to defend the summons in order to set aside the judgment.

It is advisable to seek legal assistance when applying for a rescission of judgment. An attorney can help you navigate the legal requirements and present a compelling case.

Once a judgment is settled or rescinded, ensure that credit bureaus update their records. Request your credit report from major bureaus like TransUnion, Experian, and XDS to confirm the removal of the judgment. If the judgment still appears on your credit report after settlement or rescission, file a dispute with the credit bureaus. Provide them with the Satisfaction of Judgment or court order for rescission as evidence.

Remember a judgment is valid against you for many years and will prevent you from buying anything on credit until such judgment is removed. It is best to seek advise the moment you find a summons or letter of demand to ensure you take the correct steps. If you fail to respond to the summons in time, the creditor will apply for default judgment against you without you even knowing and will take the necessary steps to collect the outstanding debt from you and you will also be responsible for the legal costs thereof.