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Registry Trust’s data on monetary judgments in the UK and Republic of Ireland provides valuable insights into not only levels of indebtedness but also the County Court Judgment (CCJ) process. At the end of 2019/beginning of 2020, we were seeing worryingly low levels of ‘satisfaction’ on our Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines with 81% of judgments issued in 2019 still outstanding by mid-2020.

However, initial analysis of our data for the whole of 2020 reflects what we are seeing in the media about debt being paid back at the fastest rate since Bank of England records began, 26 years ago (see this article in the Mirror stating that £15.6 billion had been cleared in March 2020 alone).

In fact, record numbers of ‘satisfied’ judgments, and record values of ‘satisfied’ judgments occur across all jurisdictions (England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Jersey and Isle of Man) in 2020. This is excellent news and could show a step towards a larger number of people wanting to improve their ‘financial fitness’ as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

RT 2020 satisfaction rates graph 1.png

This rise in satisfied judgments has particularly occurred with consumers, as oppose to commercial (corporate or non-corporate) businesses. Commercial satisfactions increased from 2,424 to 3,169 (years 2013 to 2020). Consumer satisfactions increased from 6,017 to a staggering 53,192.

RT 2020 satisfaction rates graph 2.png

Unfortunately, the coronavirus crisis has increased the total number of people entering a state of debt. Consumer research group ‘Which?’ found that almost 6% of households in the UK in October defaulted on at least one payment, compared to 4% the previous year. Therefore, although satisfactions are increasing, so are the number of people in debt.

But despite the total number of people entering debt increasing, the chart below shows the percentage of judgments satisfied (SS) as a percentage of all judgments continues to increase into 2020, reaching 2.3% of all records. This is a significant increase from 0.34% in 2013.

RT 2020 satisfaction rates graph 3.png

This may not paint the whole picture though. As we’ve been working hard to highlight over the past year, there are many reasons why some CCJ debts are not marked as ‘satisfied’ even when they have been paid in full or a partial settlement has been agreed. If the changes we are calling for to make the CCJ process fairer (see this recent blog from our Chair Mick McAteer) were to be implemented, satisfaction levels could increase even further.

We are also yet to see the full impact of the pandemic on levels of indebtedness as furlough and other support schemes come to an end and a predicted recession hits the most vulnerable in society hardest.

It is very encouraging to see that more debts are being settled and judgments are being formally ‘satisfied’ and we hope to see this trend continuing throughout 2021 and beyond.

Our public website TrustOnline, where anyone can check a person, business or case number on the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines, has lots of useful information about CCJs, credit scores and more to help boost ‘financial fitness’. Visit https://www.trustonline.org.uk/help-topics/.

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