News Article

Consumer Credit

Consumer debt judgments at highest level since financial crisis

By CreditMan Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Consumer debt judgments reached a post-crisis peak in 2015 according to figures released today by Registry Trust.

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 734,205 County Court Judgements (CCJs) against consumers in England and Wales during 2015, four per cent higher than 2014 and the highest for any year since the 830,675 judgments in 2008.

The sharp rise in the number of CCJs was accompanied by a fall in the average value: down 12 per cent to £2,030, which is a real terms decrease of 55 per cent on 2008.

The total number of judgments against consumers in the High Court fell 38 per cent to 324 in 2015, the lowest in the preceding decade. The total value was also at its lowest level in recent years, falling three per cent since 2014 to £176m. The average value increased 56 per cent to £545,916, however, but this was from an unusually low base of £349,052 in 2014.

The total value of debt judgments against consumers in all courts was £1.67bn.

“The increased number of judgments will help banks and others to lend more accurately,” said chairman of Registry Trust Malcolm Hurlston CBE. “Taking together the fall in average value and increase in numbers we have a picture of responsible behaviour. Judgment information is the single most important element in most lending.”

In 2015 Registry Trust received 160,835 requests to search the register for England and Wales, the bulk of which were made online at TrustOnline allows anyone to search for judgments and similar information registered against consumers and businesses 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 should at least give pause for thought.”