The Limitations and Extent of Debt Chase in the UK

In the United Kingdom, both individuals and businesses may find themselves in situations where they are owed money by others. Pursuing the repayment of debts is a common practice, but there are certain limitations on how long one can chase a debt.

The Limitations and Extent of Debt Chase in the UK

Understanding the rules and regulations surrounding debt recovery is crucial for both creditors and debtors. This article aims to shed light on the duration and extent of debt chase in the UK.

The Limitations and Extent of Debt Chase in the UK

Statute of Limitations:

The UK operates under a statute of limitations, which sets a time limit for the pursuit of legal action. The specific timeframe for pursuing a debt depends on the type of debt and the applicable legislation. Generally, there are different limitation periods for different types of debts, as outlined below:

Simple Contract Debts:

  1. Most debts fall under the category of simple contracts, including personal loans, credit card debts, and utility bills. In such cases, the Limitation Act 1980 establishes a limitation period of six years from the date the debt became due. After this time, the debt is considered “statute-barred,” meaning the creditor cannot take legal action to recover it. However, it is important to note that making a payment or acknowledging the debt in writing can reset the clock and restart the limitation period.

Mortgage and Secured Debts:

  1. For debts secured by a mortgage or other form of security, the limitation period is twelve years. This extended timeframe applies to debts related to property, such as outstanding mortgage balances, loans secured against a property, or charges against land or buildings.

Judgment Debts:

  1. If a creditor obtains a court judgment against a debtor, there is no limitation period for enforcing the judgment. The creditor can pursue the debt indefinitely until it is paid in full.

Criminal Fines and Tax Debts:

  1. Debts owed to government entities, such as criminal fines or unpaid taxes, do not have a limitation period. These debts can be chased indefinitely until they are settled. Here’s an a guide on how long can a debt be chased uk

Debt Collection Agencies:

Creditors who are unable to recover debts directly often employ the services of debt collection agencies. These agencies specialize in locating debtors and negotiating repayment plans. While there is no statutory time limit on how long debt collection agencies can chase a debt, they are subject to regulations set by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The FCA’s guidelines require agencies to treat debtors fairly and refrain from engaging in unfair or aggressive practices.

Impact on Credit Scores:

Even if a debt becomes statute-barred, it may still have implications for the debtor’s credit score. Credit reference agencies retain information about debts for six years from the date of default or settlement. This means that a statute-barred debt can remain on a credit report, potentially affecting the debtor’s ability to secure future credit.


In the United Kingdom, the duration and extent of debt chase depend on various factors, including the type of debt and applicable legislation. The Limitation Act 1980 establishes a general limitation period of six years for most debts, while mortgage and secured debts have a twelve-year limitation period. However, it is crucial to note that debts can have long-lasting effects on credit scores and that debt collection agencies operate within the guidelines set by the Financial Conduct Authority. Understanding the regulations surrounding debt recovery is vital for both creditors and debtors to ensure fair and ethical practices in pursuing and repaying debts.

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Dyka Smith
Dyka Smith is a content marketing professional at Inosocial, an inbound marketing and sales platform that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers. Previously, Dyka worked as a marketing manager for a tech software startup. She graduated with honors from Columbia University with a dual degree in Business Administration and Creative Writing.

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