Fewer debt judgments in 2011
According to Registry Trust’s annual statistics, the value of county court judgments (CCJs) against consumers in England & Wales fell by 15 percent last year from £2.036bn to £1.726bn. This fall of £309m continues a decline in the total value of CCJs stretching back several years.
Registry Trust is the non-profit organisation which operates the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines for England and Wales on behalf of the Ministry of Justice in the public interest.
Registry Trust’s statistics show the value of CCJs against consumers in England & Wales has fallen 42.6 percent (£1.284bn) since its recent peak in 2008. In that year £3.011bn worth of debt was registered against consumers compared with £1.727bn in 2011.
The fall in total value can be attributed to two factors: falling numbers of CCJs and a fall in value of the average judgment seen at county courts.
Over the course of 2011 567,700 debt judgments were processed in the county courts. This is 12,000 fewer than the corresponding number for 2010 of 579,700 and the lowest total for a calendar year since 2004.
The average judgment value in 2011 was £3,042, in 2010 - £3,511 and in 2009 £3,715.
All debt judgment records can be searched by anyone online at www.trustonline.org.uk. The public can therefore use past debt information to determine creditworthiness in the same way credit reference agencies do.
Last year Registry Trust was able to cut the cost of checking the registers by more than half thanks to efficiency savings coming from a £1m investment in its website in 2010.
This is one of the reasons behind the accelerated growth in the number of searches of the registers, which reached 99,400 this year in England and Wales. This is more than triple the number of search requests received by the Trust just four years ago.
Announcing the statistics Malcolm Hurlston, Registry Trust chairman, said: “The declining number of judgments may seem surprising during the economic downturn. It reflects the success of measures designed to help before debts become unmanageable and a court procedure becomes necessary.
“People like the idea of being their own credit reference agency. The increasing number of searches goes to show that the information we provide is important both to the credit world and to the public more generally.
“The lower numbers of CCJs means that where there is a judgment, the importance of what it tells you is proportionately higher.”