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Steep rise in county court judgements against consumers in 2016

Authored by Phil Meekin

Phil Meekin

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Approximate read time: 2 minutes

In 2016, there was a steep rise in country court judgements (CCJs) against consumers, new figures from the Registry Trust have revealed. The Registry Trust operates the Register of Judgements, Orders and Fines for England and Wales on behalf of the Ministry of Justice.

A CCJ is a court order that any creditor can apply to the court for and the court order will be filed against an individual or company that fails to repay money owed to them. Figures hit record highs last year with the number reaching 912,389 judgements registered against consumers in 2016. This is a 24% increase on the 730,000+ judgements registered in 2015.

This rise is the fourth consecutive one and is now at the highest figure on record. There are fears that this increase will have implications for people wanting to obtain mortgages, credit cards or even bank accounts in future.

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A CCJ is removed from the register if paid off in full within 30 days of its issue, if it is not dealt with in this time it will remain on the individual/company’s credit file for six years. After a judgement is received, it means the court has decided the company or individual owe the money to the person who brought the charge against them.

Registry Trust chairman Malcolm Hurlston doesn’t agree with those that think the growing numbers suggest people are struggling to cope financially. He said; “Taking together the increasing number of judgments and their declining value, we see that people whose commitments may be out of control are being identified earlier in the lending cycle.”

Whatever this rise in CCJs against consumers means it is worrying many experts and interested parties, especially debt charities, who feel that this does point towards a potential rise in debt levels for many individuals should inflation reach higher levels later this year as predicted.

But this news comes in contrast to figures that show the number of CCJs against businesses in England and Wales fell by 21% in 2016 to 78,739. This is the lowest level on record and has been put down to new fees surrounding CCJs which has seen businesses trying to obtain funds out of court to avoid this cost.

Whether the situation for businesses and individuals changes over the next couple of years as a result of Brexit remains to be seen but for now businesses and individuals are at the opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of CCJs.

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