17 Jan 2022 | Posted In Money advice news

The number of County Court Judgments (CCJs) issued against consumers in England and Wales in 2021 rose by more than one third compared to 2020, according to figures released today (17 January 2022) by Registry Trust; the not-for-profit organisation which maintains the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines.

CCJs are issued to consumers in England & Wales who have not repaid a monetary debt and the creditor has taken court action. More than four million consumers[1], have a judgment registered against them – one in 13 of the adult population.

848,124 CCJs were registered against consumers in 2021, up by 36% from 625,901 in 2020, and their total value rose by nearly one-quarter (24%), from £1.1 billion in 2020 to £1.4 billion in 2021. The average value of consumer CCJs fell by 8%, from £1,811 to £1,658.

The proportion of CCJs ‘satisfied’ by consumers (paid in full with proof of payment provided to the court) remains worryingly low, at around 16%, with the number of satisfactions down 1% from 2020.

In the High Court, the number of judgments against consumers fell by 36%, from 262 to 167. However, the total value saw a large rise of 34%, from £111 million to £149 million. This more than doubled the average value from £424,694 to £891,603. Due to the small number of judgments registered by the High Court, the numbers are subject to large fluctuations and the impact of a small number of very large judgments.

Registry Trust Chair, Mick McAteer, said:

“The position of financially vulnerable households at the beginning of 2022 looks bad – and the current data does not yet factor in the effects of the looming cost of living crisis, the impact of the Christmas period, or the potential ongoing effects of Covid-19.

“Consumer CCJs have still not reached pre-pandemic peaks when annual numbers regularly topped one million. But, there is no room for complacency. The sharp increase following the large fall in 2020 fall shows a worrying pattern similar to seen after the 2008 financial crisis. This, along with the low satisfaction rate, could seriously undermine efforts to repair household finances and build financial resilience against future shocks.”

In response to these latest figures and other data on the state of household finances and the consumer credit market, Registry Trust has published a new report entitled: ‘What does 2022 hold for financially vulnerable households in the UK?’. The report calls on government, policymakers, regulators, the financial sector, and civil society organisations to collaborate to protect financially vulnerable households from further financial harm, help them repair their finances, and promote financial resilience against future financial shocks.

It also makes some key recommendations for changes to the CCJ process including requiring creditors to notify the courts when a CCJ debt has been repaid as part of their treating customers fairly obligations, and publishing data on partial settlements. Additionally, it calls for better use of Registry Trust’s analysis and other data to more effectively target interventions for the financially vulnerable.

The full report can be found here.

[1] With 5.3 million CCJs against them. Some consumers will have multiple CCJs registered against them