The number of county court judgments (CCJs) against consumers reached nearly 300,000 in the first quarter of 2017 – the highest in more than a decade.
The figure was published by Registry Trust, a non-profit company that maintains public records of judgment and decree information for most jurisdictions in the British Isles and Ireland.
In the first three months of 2017, nearly 298,901 debt judgments were registered against consumers in England and Wales – a rise of 35 percent compared to the same period last year. The trust said this is the highest figure for a single quarter in more than a decade.
The trust also found that CCJs against businesses increased by nearly 40 percent for the first quarter of this year, compared to the same period last year.
Registry Trust said for every 1,000 people in England and Wales around five received a judgment, compared with about four the year before.
The average value of a consumer CCJ fell for the eighth consecutive year, decreasing 17 percent in the first quarter of this year to £1,495. The average value of a judgment in the same period of 2008 stood at £3,662.
The number of judgments marked as satisfied during the first three months of 2017 was close to 12 percent, compared to around 13 percent for the first quarter of 2016.
In contrast to the increase of CCJs against consumers, the first quarter of this year had the lowest total of number of high court judgements registered against consumers for a single quarter on record.
The average value of a consumer judgment in the high court fell 44 percent year-on-year to around £446,000.
The total value of debt judgments against consumers in all courts in England and Wales during the first quarter of 2017 was £462.5m.
Malcolm Hurlston CBE, chairman of Registry Trust, said: “People who don’t pay their debts are increasingly likely to be taken to court.
“CCJs can seriously damage credit ratings and good lenders rightly avoid people who have shown they can’t manage debt. This may seem like bad news on the surface but judgments for smaller sums are protective for the people concerned.”
In December last year, the Ministry of Justice pledged to crackdown on unresolved debt claims.