The number of debt judgments recorded against businesses in the county courts of England and Wales during 2015 fell to its lowest level since before the 2008 crash, marking the sixth consecutive year of improvement. The figures released today by Registry Trust are a clear sign that businesses are once more on top of their borrowing.
Registry Trust is the non-profit organisation which collects judgment information from jurisdictions across the British Isles and Ireland. In England and Wales, it operates the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines on behalf of the Ministry of Justice. A judgment is incontrovertible proof of unmanaged debt.
There were 100,072 County Court Judgments (CCJs) against businesses in England and Wales during 2015, down seven per cent on 2014 and the fewest since before the financial crisis.
The total value of CCJs decreased 11 per cent to £336m last year, with the average value of a judgment falling four per cent to £3,357. Taking inflation into account, the latter represents a decrease of 39 per cent on 2008. A factor affecting judgment values has been the increasing role of debt buyers.
Both incorporated and unincorporated businesses are included in the statistics, but there was no marked difference in the figures affecting their relative performance.
The number of High Court Judgments (HCJs) against businesses fell 56 per cent to 109 in 2015, a sharp decrease from an already low base of 246 in 2014. The total value of HCJs fell 54 per cent to £83m during 2015, a complete reversal of the previous year’s steep increase to £175m. The average value of a HCJ saw a relatively small rise of seven per cent to £764,000, owing mainly to a near 50 per cent increase among unincorporated businesses.
“The figures for 2015 are a remarkable testimony to the resilience of business,” said Registry Trust chairman Malcolm Hurlston CBE. “Large and small, businesses are back in control of their borrowing which is good news for economic expansion.”
In 2015 Registry Trust received 160,835 requests to search the register for England and Wales, the bulk of which were made online at www.trustonline.org.uk. TrustOnline allows anyone to search for judgments and similar information registered against businesses and consumers in any jurisdiction across the British Isles and Ireland. “It is a unique benefit for consumers to be able to check the debt record of any person or business with which they may be transacting,” said Mr Hurlston. “Negative information would certainly make me think twice.”