Small claims judgments rise by a third in last quarter

Small claims judgments in Northern Ireland rose by 30 per cent in the third quarter, according to the Registry Trust
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE number of judgments in Northern Ireland rose sharply in the third quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2018, latest Registry Trust figures show.

There were 2,222 small claims judgments in July, August and September, which is 30 per cent more than in the previous year's third quarter, with much of it driven by a large rise in smaller value judgments. The total value of judgments rose by only 4 per cent to £4.1 million, with the average value falling by 20 per cent to £1,852.

High Court judgments numbers rose 82 per cent to 20, amounting to £1.3 million.

A rise of just over £300,000 in the total value of judgments in all courts in Northern Ireland saw figures reaching £5.4m compared with £5.1m in quarter three last year.

In the third quarter of 2019 High Court judgments made up less than one per cent of Northern Ireland judgments but accounted for 24 per cent of the total value of registered judgment debt, with an average value of £66,383.

Just two per cent of judgments were marked as satisfied in Northern Ireland, which contrasts with 16 per cent in England and Wales, where satisfaction rates are generally higher owing to differences between legal systems.

Trust chairman Mick McAteer said: “Accurate, trustworthy judgment data promotes responsible lending and borrowing. It also provides an important indicator of the state of household finances and the economy.

“The first half of 2019 saw an encouraging fall in the number of judgments. But we now see a worryingly large rise in the third quarter of the year. This must give rise to concerns about the state of the Northern Ireland economy and household finances. We will continue to monitor this closely.”

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