County Court Judgement Rates Up to Record Levels
January 27, 2020
The number of people who received county court judgements (CCJ) in relation to their personal debts increased to record levels last year across England and Wales.
According to official figures released by the Registry Trust, there were 1.15 million instances of courts issuing judgements against individuals who failed to pay their debts over the course of 2019.
The chair of the trust, Mick McAteer, has told the Guardian that the figures highlight the extent of the financial strain that people and families are currently facing in many parts of the UK.
“Low interest rates have cushioned the impact of debt levels on the typical household, but it conceals the fact that large numbers of more financially vulnerable consumers are facing real financial strain for a number of reasons,” Mr McAteer is quoted as saying.
CCJs can be issued against anyone who fails to pay a debt they owe to any type of company or service provider, which in many cases will be linked to energy debts, phone bills, car repayments or council tax arrears.
One consequence for people who receive a CCJ but can’t settle their debts quickly afterwards is that it will impact their credit rating and make it potentially more difficult for them to borrow money in future via mortgages, credit cards or personal loans.
According to the latest data, local councils are among the most proactive pursuers of debts that result in CCJs, which Mr McAteer from the Registry Trust has suggested is now a source of real problems for a lot of people who struggle with money.
“The concern about local authorities is that because they are more aggressively enforcing debts, it is having a knock-on effect on households – ie it is making it harder to pay other debts which means they end up receiving a CCJ,” he said.
The number of CCJs issued in England and Wales in 2019 increased by 3 per cent, or 30,138 cases, as compared to the previous 12 months, according to the official figures.
On average, the amounts of money being chased through these mechanisms was £1,506, which was 5 per cent up on the year before.
“We have noticed another uptick on the average size of judgments in 2019, but generally the trend from the financial crisis has been that the number of judgments have risen but the average size of the judgments have really fell quite dramatically,” explained Mr McAteer, responding to his organisation’s newest numbers.