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As Registry Trust’s Data Analyst, my role is to use our ‘public data for public good’ to understand what trends seen on the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines (which we maintain on behalf of the Ministry of Justice) tell us about the economy and household finances. I recently noticed that there were monetary judgments (commonly known as CCJs) being ‘satisfied’ (paid in full and then formally marked as ‘satisfied as a result of proof of payment being provided to the court) just days before being removed from the Register after being on it for six years.

66 CCJs were satisfied in the final ten days of being on the Register, 34 were satisfied in the final week of being on the Register, and one judgment was satisfied on the final day of being on the Register: 2,190 days after originally being issued. The reason judgments are being satisfied so close to their removal is not known but could be the result of pressures to repay the debt regardless of its presence on the Register – once the judgment is removed it continues to be a debt in the ‘real world’ beyond credit records.

I then looked at the other end of the spectrum and found that 6,008 CCJs were satisfied just 35 days after they were registered, making day 35 the most common day for a judgment to be satisfied. Days 32 and 34 were the second and third most popular days for judgment satisfaction. This also surprised me as if these judgments had been satisfied just days earlier (within one calendar month of being issued), they would have been removed and the defendant would not have experienced the negative impact of being on the Register, including reduced access to credit. So narrowly missing the cut off for cancellation could either signal that there is a lack of awareness about how to cancel a judgment and/or that passing the cancellation date and therefore facing being on the Register for six years is a trigger for seeking to repay and then satisfy a judgment where repayment is possible.

CCJs and other monetary judgments are the result of money that is spent or borrowed and cannot be repaid. They are usually a last resort when other types of recovery have been attempted. It is often perceived that CCJ debt is the result of irresponsible lending of credit to individuals who are financially unreliable, but this analysis of when judgments are being ‘satisfied’ tells a different story. With individuals repaying their debts at a time where non-repayment wouldn’t change their financial image, it poses the question are these individuals determined to do the responsible, ‘right’, thing, even years after the financial misfortune took place? It also poses the question about what we can do ensure that repayment isn’t a case of ‘too little too late’ when it comes to financial health and creditworthiness.

‘Satisfying’ CCJs is important and something we’ve previously identified that there is lack of awareness about how to do (see this blog and others), but this analysis shows that satisfying them at the right time is also key. The overall lack of understanding about how to effectively deal with CCJ debt to minimise the impact on your financial health is a cause for concern, which is why we’re campaigning for better education around the whole CCJ process. A good place to start is on our website here.

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