Covid-19 interventions sees sharp fall in the number of debt judgments

The number of debt judgments against consumers and businesses fell sharply in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Ryan McAleer

COVID-19 interventions saw the number of judgments taken out against consumers in the north fall by almost 60 per cent in the final three months of 2020.

Just 699 debt judgments were recorded in the period compared with 1,732 in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2019, according to figures released by the Registry Trust.

However, the non-profit trust warned that the respite may be short lived, with debt judgments again on the said.

The total value of all judgment debt owed in the fourth quarter of last year fell by just over half (52 per cent) compared to the same period last year, from £4.5 million to £2.2m.

But, the average value of consumer judgments rose by nearly 18 per cent, from £2,612 last year to £3,076.

The median value rose by almost two-thirds from £904 to £1,488. The Registry Trust said the figures suggest creditors took out fewer, but larger judgments against consumers.

Registry Trust chairman Mick McAteer said: “The latest data shows that government and regulatory interventions, and forbearance by creditors, in response to the Covd-19 economic crisis have protected Northern Irish consumers.

“But, the signs are that the respite may be short lived as the numbers of debt judgments have started to rise.”

Judgments against businesses fell by 51.3 per cent year-on-year in Q4, but the average value of judgements rocketed in comparison to consumer cases.

The average value in Q4 2020 was £5,123, 146 per cent up on the Q4 2019 average of £2,086.

It meant that while the number of debt judgments against businesses were halved, the total value of judgement debt owed in the north rose 20 per cent to £578,927.

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