This time last year, nobody could have predicted the year that 2020 turned out to be. As the pandemic forced us to stay at home more than ever before, consumer and corporate spending decreased. The latest release of Registry Trust’s data on monetary judgments in the UK & Ireland taken from our Registers of Judgments, Orders and Fines in 2020, highlighted some noteworthy differences compared to previous years.
The full stats book and press releases for each jurisdiction for Q4 2020 and the full year are now available, but here is a summary of some of the key highlights and what they might mean for the economy and household/business finances.
Significantly fewer CCJs
The number of CCJs in 2020 decreased to just 725,403, compared to 1.3 million the year before. However, this is not necessarily characteristic of a more financially stable society. For months, numerous Courts were forced to close or have reduced members of staff to aid social distancing, resulting in fewer judgments being processed than would normally have been the case.
The highest number of judgments recorded in 2020 were in the Birmingham (18,330 judgments) followed by Manchester (10,415 judgments) and Leeds (10,219 judgments). The lowest number of judgments were found in Calderdale (5 judgments), South Tyneside (24 judgments) and St Helens (35 judgments). However, this raw value does not account for population density.
In line with previous years, the highest median value of judgments were in the rural regions of Northern Scotland; possibly attributed to expensive agricultural machinery or reduced financial education in the remote regions. Scotland’s percentage of judgments as a total of all transactions was higher than both Northern Ireland, and England and Wales.
Last year, the median value of judgments reached its highest levels since 2015, at £839. To gain a greater understanding of the types of judgments which resulted in this increase, it is worth breaking down the judgments by value. Compared to 2018 and 2019, 2020 has an increased number of higher value judgments: £3000+, £2000-£3000, £1500-£2000 and £1000-£1500. Alternatively, there are decreases in the number of lower value judgments: £500-£1000, £100-£500 and <£100.
Considerably higher satisfaction rate
Unlike the declining judgment levels, ‘satisfactions’ (when a CCJ debt is settled and then formally marked as ‘satisfied’ on the Register) reached a new high, particularly in Q3 of 2020. This is excellent news and means that awareness around the need to notify the Courts after the debt has been paid is rising. This also means a lower proportion of judgments remained ‘outstanding’ on the Register, despite being paid. The exact reason for the spike in satisfactions is unknown, but it could represent a greater interest in financial security (and increased anxiety to organise personal finances) as a result of the pandemic.
The median value of satisfied judgments has also increased steadily over recent years, peaking in Q4 of 2020 at £667. This coincides with an increased value of judgments being registered on the whole and could be reflective of increased living costs.
For more information on how to deal with and ‘satisfy’ CCJs, read this blog.
Note: Median value on the secondary axis
As with the highest number of judgments, the map below shows the highest number of satisfactions in 2020 were also located in Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.
Consumer and corporate breakdown
The increase in judgment value in 2020 was predominantly fuelled by an increase in high value commercial judgments, from 24% of judgments in 2018 to 31% in 2020. An increase has also occurred for consumer judgments, which increased from 9% to 12% from 2018 to 2020.
In 2020, the largest proportion of monthly judgments were processed in January and February for both consumer and corporate judgments. In March, we see a dramatic decrease in judgments processed. Of course, this is when the true impact of the pandemic hit the UK because of the first national lockdown. From there, consumer judgments seem to start a journey to recovery, reaching the third highest monthly judgment total in November, at 13% of all consumer judgments. Commercial judgments do not seem to make the same recovery.
This breakdown of judgments is not similar to any year in the past, and it will be interesting to see the ways in which the pandemic continue to affect 2021. We will continue to assess trends and patterns of our judgment data throughout the year, the insight from which you can continue to access through our blogs.
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