“Mixed bag” in 2018 for Scottish decrees

The total value of decrees against businesses rose in 2018 compared to the previous year. But the total value of decrees against companies – the generally larger incorporated businesses – dropped to the lowest annual figure on record, according to figures released today (February 5 2019) by Registry Trust.

There were 3,057 decrees issued against businesses in Scotland during 2018, 39 percent higher than the previous year.

The total value of business decrees rose seven percent, compared to 2017, to £12.8million. There was a 24 percent drop in the average value of a business decree, to £4,197; the median business decree fell by one percent to £1,625.

The total number of decrees against incorporated business rocketed by 60 percent to 2,360, although the average value of a decree in 2018 dropped 39 percent on 2017 figures. The median also fell, by 12 percent to £1,500. As a result the total value of decrees against Scottish companies was the lowest on record at £8.9million.

The total number of unincorporated business decrees fell three percent on 2017’s figures to 697, the lowest annual figure on record. However, the total value increased by 38 percent to £3.9million, with the average value increasing by 42 percent to £5,589, the highest annual average value on record. The median value rose 27 percent to £1,955.

During 2018, 24,362 debt decrees were registered against consumers, seven percent higher than 2017. There was a moderate increase to the combined value of all consumer decrees to £64.1million.

The average value of all consumer decrees fell to £2,629, six percent less than in 2017, in contrast, the median consumer decree increased by six percent to £1,297 in 2018.

The number of consumer small claims increased by seven percent in 2018 to 22,107, with the total value rising two percent on 2017’s figures to £33.9million maintaining the record high of the previous year. The average value dropped by four percent to £1,535, contrary to the median value rising by seven percent to £1,183.

Registry Trust is the non-profit organisation which collects decree and judgment information from jurisdictions throughout the British Isles and Ireland. In Scotland it collects information on small claims, summary, ordinary cause and simple procedure sheriff’s court decrees. A decree is incontrovertible proof that debt has not been managed.

Only 3.46 percent of decrees were marked as satisfied during 2018, far lower than the 15 percent of satisfied debt judgments in England and Wales, where satisfaction rates are generally higher owing to legal differences.

Trust chairman Malcolm Hurlston CBE said: “2018 was a mixed bag with divergent results for businesses and consumers. We are in the process of examining the year in greater detail and paying especial attention to claimant trends…who is taking court action. This study will be of value throughout the UK.”

In 2018 Registry Trust received 31,753 requests to search the register for Scotland online at www.trustonline.org.uk. TrustOnline allows anyone to search for judgments and similar information registered against consumers and businesses in any jurisdiction across the British Isles and Ireland.

Business statistics

● Decrees against all businesses 2018 (compared with 2017)
○ Total: 3,057 (up 39 percent)
○ Total value: £12.8m (up seven percent)
○ Average* value: £4,197 (down 24 percent)
○ Median: £1625 (down one percent)
● Decrees against incorporated businesses 2018
○ Total: 2,360 (up 60 percent)
○ Total value: £8.9m (down three percent) [Lowest annual figure on record]
○ Average* value: £3,786 (down 39 percent)
○ Median: £1500 (down 12 percent)
● Decrees against unincorporated businesses 2018
○ Total: 697 (down three percent) [Lowest annual figure on record]
○ Total value: £3.9m (up 38 percent)
○ Average* value: £5,589 (up 42 percent) [Highest annual figure on record]
○ Median: £1955 (up 27 percent)

Consumer statistics

● All consumer decrees 2018 (compared with 2017)
○ Total: 24,362 (up seven percent)
○ Total value: £64.1m (no change)
○ Average* value: £2,629 (down six percent)
○ Median: £1297 (up six percent)
● Small claims and summary cause decrees 2018
○ Total: 22,107 (up seven percent)
○ Total value: £33.9m (up two percent) [Highest annual figure on record]
○ Average* value: £1,535 (down four percent)
○ Median: £1183 (up seven percent)
● Ordinary cause decrees 2018
○ Total number: 2,255 (up 12 percent)
○ Total value: £30.1m (down two percent)
○ Average* value: £13,354 (down 12 percent)
○ Median: £8238 (up three percent)

  • Average value refers to the ‘mean’. The mean average tends to be higher than the median, as it is more distorted by outlying, high value cases.