Consumer county court judgments hold steady

The number of County Court judgments (CCJs) issued against consumers in England and Wales in the first half of 2019 rose just three percent, to 586,765, compared to the same period of 2018, according to figures released today by Registry Trust.

First half-year judgment numbers were rising every year since 2012’s record HY1 low of 242,965 till 2017’s record HY1 high of 592,522. Though there was a slight dip in numbers in the first half of 2018, this year’s figure is close to 2017’s record levels.

At the same time, the total value of consumer CCJs increased by two percent, compared to HY1 2018, to £848.1million and the average value of a CCJ against a consumer has fallen steadily year-on-year since 2008’s record HY1 high of £3,867 to this year’s new HY1 low of £1,445.

In the High Court 59 judgments were registered against consumers in Q1 and Q2 2019, a drop of 46 compared to the same period of the previous year.

The total value of debt judgments against consumers in the High Court in England and Wales during the first half of the year was £26.5million, a decrease of 80 percent from the first half of 2018’s value of £132.5million, though this changes to a decrease of 45 percent when a single large judgment of £84.5million in the first quarter of 2018 is disregarded.

Registry Trust is the Registrar of Judgments, Orders and Fines in England and Wales (on behalf of the Ministry of Justice). In addition, it collects, verifies and publishes judgment information from jurisdictions throughout the British Isles and Ireland.

It provides its licensed credit reference agencies with regular updates on outstanding judgment debts. This information is a major and sometimes decisive factor in credit ratings.

As well as distributing judgment information under strict licensing to leading credit reference agencies, Registry Trust makes the information it registers available to the public through TrustOnline. This excludes claimant data, which is public and available from the courts, but not centrally registered.

There were 128,326 public requests to search the register for England and Wales online during the first six months of 2019. TrustOnline allows anyone to search for judgments and similar information registered against businesses and consumers in jurisdictions across the British Isles and Ireland.

On behalf of TrustOnline, Mick McAteer, deputy chairman of Registry Trust said: “This data, which acts as a useful indicator of the state of household finances, is essential because accurate judgment information reduces the risk of inappropriate lending and borrowing.

“The number of judgments against consumers is back to near record levels, though the average value continues to fall. It is not clear what explains these trends in England and Wales because centralised data on who is taking the legal actions isn’t available.”