Leap in judgments against consumers

There were 1,160 judgments registered against consumers in Ireland during the first half of 2019 according to figures released today (July 16 2019) by Registry Trust. This is a 25 percent leap in the number of judgments, compared to the same period of the previous year which, at 930, was the lowest first half-year figure on record.

The total value of consumer judgments was down 55 percent to €72.5million and the average value of a consumer judgment fell 64 percent to €62,470, both record lows for a first half-year. The scale of this drop in value was partially caused by several abnormally large judgments in the first half of 2018, including one judgment worth €30m. The median value at €13,218 had dropped 10 percent from the HY1 2018 level.

The number and total value of judgments registered against businesses in Ireland in the first six months of 2019 were the lowest on record for a first half-year, with 250 judgments registered, 10 percent fewer than in the first half of 2018. It continued an eight-year downward trend.

The total value of business judgments dropped by seven percent to €4.9million, compared to Q1 and Q2 2018. However, the average value increased by four percent to €19,484, though the median dropped by three percent to €8,155.

Registry Trust is the mission-led non-profit organisation which operates as Irish Judgments in the Republic of Ireland, where it collects information on judgments registered against businesses and consumers. A judgment is incontrovertible proof that debt has not been managed.

The figures are based only on judgments registered at the request and cost of creditors at the Four Courts in Dublin and to that extent provide only a partial picture of unmanaged debt judgments in the country. By comparison, in the much smaller economy of Northern Ireland where judgments from all courts are registered, there were 1768 judgments in first quarter of 2019.

Malcolm Hurlston as Registrar commented: “At first sight it looks as if businesses did well in the first half of the year, while consumers suffered. A likely reason for consumer judgments to have gone up in number and down in average value is the increasing market presence of debt buyers whose efficiency makes it worthwhile for them to pursue smaller claims.
“In the longer run this benefits consumers too because the absence of a judgment after debt has been mismanaged would give a misleading impression which could well lead to unaffordable borrowing.”

In the first half of 2019 Registry Trust received 19,667 requests to search the register for the Republic of Ireland online at www.trustonline.org.uk. TrustOnline allows anyone to search for judgments and similar information registered against consumers and businesses throughout the British Isles and Ireland.

Malcolm Hurlston urged consumers to check TrustOnline when undertaking any contract: “We have recently made all the information easier to check online, particularly from mobile phones, and it covers jurisdictions throughout the British Isles. This is particularly useful where there may be additional judgment information outside Ireland. Many people are active in both countries but have adverse judgment information only in one.”