Belfast Telegraph

NI debt judgments jump 11% in first half of 2017

By John Mulgrew

The number of debt judgments in Northern Ireland increased during the first half of 2017, new figures show. There were 4,101 small claims judgments in the first six months of the year. That's a year-on-year increase of 11%, according to the Registry Trust, a non-profit organisation which collects judgment information from jurisdictions across the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The total value rose by 21% to £8.3m, while the average value of a small claims judgment rose by 9% to £2,031.

In the High Court, 75 judgments were issued worth a total of £12.5m. That's more than double the overall amount a year earlier. The average High Court judgment was £165,692.

The debt judgments range from individuals and companies defaulting on payments, to individual small claims and larger business claims made in the High Court.

"Although defendants in Northern Ireland have every opportunity to notify us when they have satisfied a judgment, it is clearly not happening enough," Registry Trust chairman Malcolm Hurlston said.

"It will be in everybody's interest if claimants make it best practice to notify the trust. Then positive information will reach credit files and public notice quicker."

Around 3.5% of judgments in Northern Ireland were marked as satisfied during the first two quarters of 2017.

That contrasts with 12.02% in England and Wales, where 'satisfaction rates' are "generally higher owing to differences between the legal systems", according to the Registry Trust.

The Registry Trust says there were almost 15,000 searches on its register for Northern Ireland individuals or businesses.

"It is a unique benefit for consumers to be able to check the debt record of any person or business with which they may be transacting," Mr Hurlston said. "Negative information would certainly make me think twice."

Meanwhile, the number of small claims brought against Scottish businesses fell to "record" lows this year, dropping by around a third.

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