Answers to questions about debts and credit ratings - in plain English!
Record numbers of CCJs in 2019 & for smaller amounts
On May 13, the statistics for CCJs for the first quarter of 2019. were published by Registry Trust, who keeps the records of CCJs in England and Wales.
There were more than 320,000 consumer CCJs in the three months, the highest number recorded for a quarter.
Consumers are being sued more often for smaller amounts of money
The graph shows how the number of CCJs in the first quarter of each year has risen every year for the last five years. This is a sustained trend – in the first quarter of each of the last three years there have been more than a hundred thousand CCJs a month.
And the average (mean) size of these consumer CCJs has been dropping every year. In the last quarter it was £1,398 – a record low.
But the median is a more interesting statistic than the mean. The mean can be impacted by a few very large CCJs. The median gives a truer picture, showing the “halfway point” – if you list all the CCJs by size, the median is the middle number.
This is the first year that Registry Trust has provided the median figures. The median CCJ is now just £628, down from £684 last year.
So half of all CCJs were for less than £628. That is a surprisingly low number.
Why are there more CCJs but they are smaller?
The trend towards more CCJs of smaller value mirrors the trends reported by all the national debt charities towards clients having less consumer debt but being in a worse position – with more priority debt (which doesn’t usually show in CCJ statistics) and/or falling disposable incomes.
But it would be useful to have more information about CCJs.
Mick McAteer, deputy chairman of Registry Trust, said:
Accurate judgment information reduces the risk of inappropriate lending and borrowing, and is a useful indicator of the state of household finances. The number of judgments has hit record levels yet again but the average value continues to fall. It is not clear what explains these trends in England and Wales because centralised data on who is taking the legal actions isn’t available.
McAteer is referring here to who the claimant is – which lender or debt collector is taking the consumers to court.
Claimant information is not available for England and Wales but is published for Northern Ireland. This revealed the startling statistic that Amigo is the claimant with the larges value of CCJs in Northern Ireland in 2018. This data supports anecdotal evidence from debt advisers that guarantor lenders are faster to go to court than any other CCA lenders.
This claimant information for England and Wales would be useful in helping to interpret the raw CCJ numbers and how they change from year to year. How many CCJs are from water companies? debt collectors? etc
100,000 CCJs a month sounds scary, but a lender or debt collector is much less likely to go for a CCJ if you have an arrangement to pay in place.
It is unusual for a loan or credit card firm to take customers to court – the only exception here is guarantor loans. If you have any problems with a guarantor lender, read Complaining about a guarantor loan and take advice urgently. Don’t wait until a court case starts!
Not ignoring debts and letters is generally the best advice. Even if you don’t recognise them or think they are “too old” or you can’t afford to pay them: