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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Going to court for a repossession order – what happens on the day

Find out about getting advice before you go to court and what the hearing will be like. Watch a video about what to do when you arrive at the court building. Also, find out about accessing free legal advice on the day and what decisions the judge could make.

What the court hearing will be like

You may be nervous about going to court but many people don’t find it as intimidating as they thought. Possession hearings are usually held in the county court and take place in a room that looks like an office called the judge’s ‘chambers’. The judge will wear a suit rather than the robes you often see worn in court cases on television.

Getting advice before going to the hearing

You need to contact one of the organisations providing money advice and get legal help before going to the hearing if you haven’t done so already. You can find a legal adviser from the Community Legal Advice website.

Getting advice on the day of the hearing

If you haven’t got help before, you could get free and independent legal advice on the day of the hearing. Find out how to get this advice by following the link below.

Arriving at the court building

When you arrive at the court building with all the paperwork you need, you’ll be shown to the waiting room by security or reception staff. There will be a court usher in the waiting room who is there to take you from the waiting room to the judge’s chambers. You should tell the usher you have arrived. If you need to leave the waiting room, tell the usher just in case you are called for your hearing while you are away.

Keep talking to your lender

Your lender will send someone to represent them at the hearing. If you can, speak to your lender’s representative in the waiting room before your case. You may come to an agreement that you can afford and your lender agrees with. Be realistic about what you agree. You may still risk losing your home if you agree to make payments that you can’t afford later on.

What to do if you come to an agreement with the lender

If you come to an agreement with your lender’s representative, make sure you go into the hearing and tell the judge what has been agreed.

Video: when you arrive for your hearing

Arrive for your hearing transcript image 1 150x120

Watch a video that shows what you should do when you arrive for your hearing.

What happens in the hearing

Usually court hearings for possession don’t last long. When you go into chambers, the judge should explain what will happen during the hearing. If you don’t understand what’s happening, ask the judge.

Explaining why your home should be repossessed

Usually, the lender’s representative will speak first and explain why they want to repossess your home. The judge will ask your lender’s representative questions like:

  • what is the total value of the mortgage
  • what are the total arrears
  • when is the last time you paid a mortgage instalment

Then you, or a representative if you have one, will be able to ask the lender’s representative questions.

Explaining why you should keep your home

After this, you or your representative will be able to explain why your personal circumstances mean that your mortgage arrears have built up. The judge may ask you things like:

  • who lives in your home and whether you have children who live with you
  • why you are unable to pay for the mortgage
  • if you can make mortgage payments, how much you can afford to pay and on what dates

Then your lender’s representative may ask you or your representative questions.

The judge’s decision

Towards the end of the hearing the judge will usually make a decision on what should happen next. The judge could:

  • make an ‘order’, which is a legal decision on what will happen to your home
  • adjourn the hearing, which means the judge feels a decision can’t be made on the day and the hearing should be delayed until later
  • set aside the court case, which means no order will be made and the hearing is finished

Orders relating to repossession of your home

There are different kinds of orders a judge can make:

  • order for possession
  • suspended or postponed order for possession
  • time order
  • money order
  • possession order with a money judgment

See ‘Possession hearings – what the judge can decide’ to find out what these orders mean.

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