Would you want to contract with an individual who has a list of unsatisfied County Court Judgments as long as your arm? If it is too late and you are forced to sue them, you want to know whether they have the funds to meet any judgment or order for costs obtained. A number of commercial organisations offer often sophisticated credit control checking packages, but for basic information there are some free or inexpensive official sources.
The Insolvency Service website http://www.insolvency.gov.uk/ has an online register which contains the details of bankruptcies that either are current or have ended in the last 3 months, current individual voluntary arrangements and fast track voluntary arrangements, debt relief orders and current bankrupt restrictions orders and undertakings. The Registry Trust, http://www.trustonline.org.uk/ has a register of County Court Judgments which remain on the register for 6 years from the date of the Judgment unless the Judgment is set aside or the amount is paid in full within 1 month. For a small fee (currently about £8.00) you can check an individual's history of County Court Judgments. Information about companies (albeit often a limited snapshot) can be searched at http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/
If you have an individual's address, a search at HM Land Registry will give you a surprising amount of information about the ownership of property, again for a small fee (currently about £4.00 online), including the identity of the legal owners, details of mortgages on the property (but not the amount) and often the purchase price. A property purchased some time ago with a single mortgage from a mainstream lender is likely to have more equity and a more credit worthy owner than a property charged to the hilt with additional loans from secondary lenders and/or charging orders (a charge put on a property by Order of a Court in respect of an unsatisfied Judgment).
If you have any questions about protecting your position before entering into a contract or recovery of debts, whether disputed or simply because the debtor says he can't pay, we have specialists who can help you. More details are on our website or please contact John Mackle who is a senior associate solicitor in the Litigation Department at Clarion on 0113 336 3336 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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