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Welcome to the first of a series of blogs which will test some hypotheses on what happened in January 2020 with regard to judgment levels.

If you have been keeping an eye on our quarterly stats, you may have noticed a dip in the normal number of judgments we process in Quarter 1 of 2020. The first quarter of the year, and particularly the first month of the year, is characteristically the time period during which we receive and process the greatest number of judgments.

Since 2017, the average number of judgments imported onto the register during the first quarter of the year was 419,141. This is 6% higher than the average quarterly import (397,203 records).

Quarter 1 2020 saw only 390,120 transactions processed.

This 7% decrease in the number of records was not experienced equally across the United Kingdom. The group to see the greatest fall were consumers receiving judgments from courts in England and Wales. Over the same 3 years, there were an average of 364,275 judgments issued against consumers during the quarter. This was down to 335,018 judgments in 2020.

The major fall was seen in January where the average number of judgments fell 26%. Particularly striking is the 32% fall seen in January 2020 compared to the same month in 2019.

This made us think – what was happening to judgments in at the beginning of 2020? Were the record breaking levels seen in 2019 the peak of judgments? With the current global upheaval caused by coronavirus, it is not likely that we would ever know if this was going to be a turning point. That said, something was still happening.

This sets up a question for us to explore: Judgment levels in January 2020 were at the lowest levels since 2016, and the low levels have continued through the next 2 months of the year. What might explain this?

In a series of blogs we are going to investigate this further. We will be considering hypotheses on judgment and court processes, politics, economic recovery and more.

So stay tuned and let’s find out what happened in January!

If you want to look in depth at what happened in Quarter 1 2020, download the quarterly statistics book, check out our data dashboard or read our stats summary page.

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