Well, what a quarter it’s been.
It is safe to say that the last 5 months have been the most life changing months that I have ever experienced, and I am sure many people feel the same. Everything was disrupted, disturbed and disjointed. But it was also a period of reflection, resetting and reimagining.
With everything in flux, economic measures have begun showing the reality of the financial situation we are facing. Here at Registry Trust, we saw judgment levels plummet to a quarter of the numbers we saw the previous year. During times of financial hardship, you would expect to anticipate that the measures of economic vulnerability would increase in magnitude. However, this is not always true in the world of judgments, particularly in the short term. To see further analysis of this, check out our historical piece that looked at the 2008 Global Financial Crash and judgment behaviour in the short, medium and long-term as well as the recovery period.
For now, we turn our attention back to more contemporary events, and the global pandemic which has made our quarterly and half year statistics reporting particularly interesting. The blog today will have a look over what happened specifically in each jurisdiction. We’ll begin though, with an overview of the first half of the year in 2020, and break this down further to just Quarter 2 to see the real impact the pandemic had on judgments.
475,808 new transactions were processed in HY1 2020 with a total value of £1,127,725,812. During the period between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2020, 97% of judgments came from courts in England and Wales. The median value for judgments this quarter was £760, while the average was £2,370 - a 14% and 34% year on year increase, respectively.
This half year total was down 39% on the total number of transactions imported onto the Register in the first half of 2019. This is mainly due to the fall in judgments seen in Quarter 2 2020. Let’s have a look at the breakdown of April, May and June 2020.
109,883 new transactions were processed in Q2 2020 with a total value of £405,210,376. During the period between 1 April 2020 and 30 June 2020, 98% of judgments came from courts in England and Wales. The median value for judgments this quarter was £748, while the average was £3,688, a 12% and a 99% year on year increase, respectively.
What both the sets of statistics for the Half Year and Quarter 2 demonstrate is how the global pandemic had an immediate effect on judgment levels. Quarter 2 2020 was down 69% on the levels seen in the same period in 2019.
It is worth breaking down the different jurisdictions to see how this decrease played out across the areas of the UK.
England and Wales
In England and Wales, the number of judgments imported in Quarter 2 was the lowest on record for both consumers and businesses.
But, despite consumer judgments seeing the greatest decrease in judgments imported (-45% for the half year), satisfaction levels remained constant.
The graph demonstrates the lowest point of the quarter, seen in May. Due to this fall in judgments, there were weeks when (for the first time since records began?) more satisfactions were imported than judgments. This is because, despite the financial hardship of the quarter, satisfaction levels stayed consistent with pre-lockdown levels. We dive deeper into this in our blog which looked at the unexpected impacts of lockdown.
Commercial judgments saw a slightly steadier decrease in judgments levels. Overall, commercial judgments fell 40% between the weeks beginning 30 March 2020 to the week of 29 June 2020.
Overall the fall in the number of decrees against consumers in Scotland was -26%. For businesses the fall was -13%.
In parallel to decree levels falling, there has been a rise in the median value of decree, particularly for consumers. To explore this further, the graphic breaks down consumer decree by amount.
It is clear that in Q2 2020, in comparison to the same quarter 2019, there has been an increased presence of higher value decree. There is a marked shift in decrees above £1,500, with a year on year 7% increase in share. This has come with a 6 % change for decrees of less than £1,000.
This trend suggests that during the economic unrest in the quarter, attention was given to reclaiming greater amounts of debt owed and reclaiming lower value judgments was less of a priority.
Quarter 2 2020 highlighted the concentration of judgments Belfast area of Northern Ireland. These graphics display the spread of judgments over Northern Ireland each quarter from Q1 2019.
Consistently, Belfast as a region, has seen the highest number of judgments quarter on quarter. This contrasts with areas such as Fermanagh and Omagh and Mid and East Antrim. It is suggestive that where there are large, populous towns, judgment volume increases. This could be due to increased costs of living and greater presence of business and corporations as well as population size.
Republic of Ireland
Higher values, in comparison to other jurisdictions, are a characteristic of judgments from the Republic of Ireland. In the first half of 2019, 40% of judgments in the Republic of Ireland were more than £18,000. In 2020, this fell to 24%.
In breaking down the amounts for judgments of both consumers and commercial defendants, there is a marked reduction in number of judgments above £18,000. For both consumers and businesses, there were a quarter less high value judgments than what was seen in the same period the year before.
Reasons for this are unclear. There may be more awareness and accessibility for the process which may encourage claimants to seek out lower value debt owed.
The Isle of Man issues the smallest amount of judgments out of all the jurisdictions. Despite this, it regularly has the highest satisfaction percentage rates out of all of the jurisdictions.
This quarter across all jurisdictions there were rises in the number of satisfactions imported in comparison to judgments. However, this time around, the Isle of Man was the only area to see a decrease in satisfactions. There was a 19 percent point fall in the satisfaction share for Q2 2020.
At Registry Trust we will always promote the importance of registering satisfactions. However, we suspect that trends, such declining rates of satisfactions, will be seen widely in the next few months as a result of the pandemic and its financial toll.
Having reflected on both the quarter and the half year, it has demonstrated to me the extent to which this period of time really entered a state of flux. In the coming months it will be interesting to see how judgment levels will be affected by the rolling back of protective measures and regulations.
We have already seen judgment levels begin to rise again. Will the coming months see a sudden surge in the number of judgments or will it be a steady increase back to the record breaking levels seen in 2019?
Time will tell, but be sure to come back and check in as we will be analysing it every step of the way!
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