The number of debt judgments in Northern Ireland fell slightly during the first three months of 2017, 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 Northern Ireland it collects information on defaults and small claims judgments, and High Court judgments. A judgment is incontrovertible proof of unmanaged debt.
There were 1,925 small claims judgments in Q1 2017, three percent fewer than the first quarter of 2016. The total value rose by six percent, however, to £3.9m. The average value of a small claims judgment rose by nine percent to £2,049.
The number of judgments issued by the High Court increased by a quarter during the first quarter of the year, with 45 registered judgments worth a total of £8.5m. The average High Court judgment was £187,874.
Only 3.35 percent of judgments in Northern Ireland were marked as satisfied in Q1 2017. This contrasts with 11.83 percent in England and Wales, where satisfaction rates are generally higher owing to differences between the legal systems.
Under a new initiative developed by Registry Trust, lenders are being encouraged to notify the Trust directly when a judgment has been settled to their satisfaction. This will make an immediate difference in Northern Ireland, helping transform access to credit for thousands of consumers.
“At the moment it is up to consumers to tell us if they have satisfied a judgment,” said Registry Trust chairman Malcolm Hurlston CBE. “The system works but the relative figures show it is far from perfect. If lenders notify us everybody will benefit.”
In Q1 2017 Registry Trust received 8,150 requests to search the register for Northern Ireland online at www.trustonline.org.uk. Through TrustOnline people in Northern Ireland can search for judgments and similar information registered against businesses and consumers anywhere in the British Isles and the Republic. “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.”