Consumers faced substantially more unmanaged debt in England and Wales for the second year in a row according to figures for the first quarter of 2015 released today (May 21) by Registry Trust.
The average value of a consumer CCJ in Q1 fell for the sixth consecutive year.
Registry Trust is the non profit organisation which collects judgment information from jurisdictions throughout the British Isles and Ireland. In England and Wales it runs the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines for the Ministry of Justice; this register includes both CCJs and High Court information. Judgment records, business and consumer, are available for the public to search at www.trustonline.org.uk. A judgment represents incontrovertible proof of unmanaged debt.
There was an increase of over 20 per cent in the number (209,679) of county court judgments (CCJs) recorded against consumers in England and Wales in the first three months of 2015, compared with the same period of 2014. This follows a 38 per cent increase from Q1 2013 to Q1 2014. Not since 2008 have there been more than 200,000 consumer CCJs in the first quarter of the year.
The total value of CCJs against consumers was up 12 per cent from Q1 2014 to Q1 2015 to £455.2m, following a 33 per cent increase the previous year.
The average value of a consumer CCJ in England and Wales was £2,171 – seven per cent lower than in the first quarter of 2014, and 41 per cent down on Q1 2009, the recent high point.
Affected by different trends, the number of first quarter high court judgments (HCJs) against consumers fell sharply. But the total value increased 27 per cent to £58.7m, reflected in an average HCJ value of £827,282, over four times higher than in Q1 2014.
The total value of all debt judgments against consumers in the first quarter was £514m to which CCJs contributed £455m.
Introducing the statistics, Malcolm Hurlston CBE, who chairs Registry Trust, pointed out that a higher proportion of consumer debt was now in the hands of debt buyers rather than the originating lenders. The increase in numbers resulted largely from a different business model and not from a general deterioration in the experience of consumers. For this reason there is no inconsistency between the fall of personal insolvencies in the first quarter and the rise of CCJs. “In the end recording unmanaged debts through CCJs plays a key role in ensuring that credit ends up in the right hands”, said Mr Hurlston. “The greater danger to consumers lies from unrecorded debt.”
In the first three months of the year Registry Trust received 42,856 requests to search the register for England and Wales, the bulk of which were made online via www.trustonline.org.uk. Through TrustOnline anybody is free to search for judgments and other registered information against businesses and consumers in any jurisdiction in 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. Any negative CCJ information should at certainly give pause for thought.” said Mr Hurlston.