How Long Can Creditors Chase Debtors For Repayment?

A major issue at the moment troubling people in debt is the issue of the length of time creditors can chase people for debt repayment.

This is a particularly important issue because a large proportion of people have debts that have been outstanding for a considerable length of time (in some cases many years).

This poses questions to members of the public such as: “how long is it that creditors (in other words: companies that lend out money) can chase up on debts?” and “is there any time limit for court action?”

Below we explore the answer to this.

Firstly, unsecured debts: for any and all unsecured personal debts including credit cards, loans, store cards and other types of small personal finance have a six year statutory time limit.

What is this six year limitation?

The statute of limitation act (where applicable to unsecured personal debts) prevents creditors from chasing debts after a six year period, this means that creditors cannot pursue debts through the courts after that period.

The creditor may send a message requesting repayment but the debtor will not be obligated to pay anything after the six year point.

Rubbing out debt

This is good to know for anyone who has unsecured personal debt that has been outstanding for a period of time, however there are rules to this (which may make the debt ‘none applicable’).

Rules to the ‘six year time limit’

The debt cannot be a mortgage, benefit overpayment or council tax liability, the time limit does not apply to these debts’ in the same way.

You must not have had contact (where you reply to any correspondence) with the creditor for the duration of the six year period (to qualify for the statutory limitation).

It must be a conventional form of credit, not the debts mentioned above (guarantor loans would not apply to this).

If you are asking yourself the question “How long can creditors chase?” follow the link for more information.

How do I know if this ‘Six year limitation’ applies to me?

Check your debt against the rules mentioned above to see if your debt is already ‘statute barred’ if you are unsure you can make enquiries with a debt solutions company like “” for more information if you are confused or need professional guidance.

A calculator and money

What happens if my debt doesn’t qualify?

If that is the case then the dealt cannot be considered ‘extinguished’ or ‘time-barred’ and must be addressed, for people suffering with debt problems there are a range of different solutions including debt management plans (DMP’s) and IVA’s (Individual Voluntary Arrangements), both of these can address the issue of creditors chasing and have benefits such as the freezing of interest and charges, consolidated repayments and other perks that help the elimination of debt.

Another issue people have problems with related to ‘creditor hassle’ is the issue of bailiffs pursuing debts that have been due for some time (usually more than 6 months).

What if I’m being chased by bailiffs?

For bailiff visits, it’s best to seek professional help OR negotiate with the creditor directly to avoid further visits from bailiffs, make sure to inform your creditor(s) of your intent to repay the debts and discuss the possibility of token repayments being made to your debts.

Another point to remember: if you do get a bailiff visit, you are not obliged to let them into your property unless they have a court warrant (otherwise known as a ‘writ’) which they must present to you if they wish to gain entry (this is a legal requirement).

Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because a bailiff has visited you automatically must let them in, they can only gain entry to your property on invitation (in lieu of a warrant) and even if they have a warrant they can only use ‘reasonable force’ to gain entry (generally involving the use of a locksmith in the event of resistance).

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