Age can be a factor that influences indebtedness, and as age affects us all, it is important to understand how age can correlate with financial vulnerability. Age UK discussed age and debt, including how County Court Judgments (CCJ) can limit access to credit in the future, in this report.
Registry Trust maintains the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines for the UK and Ireland, which gives us first-hand access to live data regarding financial vulnerability. Judgments remain outstanding on the Register for six years unless they are formally satisfied or cancelled and, during this time, defendants may be unable to access affordable credit due to the record showing on their credit file. We aim to use this ‘public data for public good’ to help inform responsible lending and borrowing, as well as influence policy and empower consumers and businesses.
As courts in England and Wales ask for the date of birth of the defendant (the person the judgment is against), we are able to assess the relationship between defendant age and both the number and type of monetary judgments against them for those records on the Register that hold this information. There are currently (as of 16/07/2021) 2,704,910 judgments on the Register showing the date of birth of defendants (51% of the total registered judgments). Of these 2,704,910, 2,704,869 are for County Court Judgments (CCJs), 30 for High Court Judgments, and 11 for Tribunal Awards.
The graph below shows:
*The most likely age category to receive a CCJ is aged 31-40, with 901,710 of the 2,704,869 CCJs (33.3%) having defendants in this age group. This may be because this age group are the most likely to have high outgoings vs income.
*The age group 41-50 has the second highest rate of CCJs (724,138), followed by 51-60 in third (516,089), and 20-30 in fourth (351,727).
*No age category had zero CCJs, highlighting the possibility of becoming financially vulnerable at any stage in life.
*The 51-60 age group had the highest number of both High Court Judgments and Tribunal Awards, at 12 and 7 judgments respectively.
*Tribunal Awards were registered for the age groups of 31-40, 41-50, and 51-60. High Court Judgments were registered for the age groups 31-40, 41-50, 51-60, 61-70, and 71-80.
The breakdown of consumer and commercial judgments below shows significantly more judgments were consumer than commercial, likely due to the need for a date of birth which may not be as straightforward when placing a judgment against a business.
For this reason, the pattern of consumer judgments largely replicates the pattern of judgments as a whole.
Commercial judgments follow a more unique pattern:
*Commercial County Court Judgments were most common for the age group 51-50 (1968 judgments), followed by 31-40 year olds (1,898 judgments), and then 61-70 year olds (1,881 judgments).
*There are only three Commercial High Court Judgments registered with dates of birth, two for defendants aged 71-80, and one for a defendant aged 51-60.
If a larger number of claimants included the defendant date of birth when registering judgments, a greater understanding of the relationship between age and judgments will be possible. This is something we plan to start raising awareness of so will hopefully change in the future. The more detailed information we can gather for the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines, the better insight it will give us into economic trends and the state of household finances.
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