Small claims judgments fall 8% to £17.1m in 2018
The number of small claims judgments here dropped last year by 8%, according to new statistics.
The Registry Trust, a non-profit organisation which collects judgment information for the UK and Ireland, said there were 8,021 small claims judgments in Northern Ireland in 2018 with a total value of £17.1m.
It said the average value of a single judgment claim also dropped, by 5% to £2,133.
Small claims judgments can be taken for debts of less than £3,000 and where people have failed to pay up despite being given the opportunity to do so.
There is no need to instruct a solicitor or barrister to take claims in the small claims court, where individuals and businesses can go to chase up everything from unpaid rent by tenants to compensation for faulty goods and services.
But the Registry Trust said that last year's small claims figures are "still far from a return to 2016's record low of 7,349 claims, which were valued at £14m".
The Registry Trust also released information about the number of High Court judgments, in which people were chasing larger sums of money.
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It said that last year High Court judgments here dropped by 51% to 54. The total value of those judgments also fell by 73%, to £4.5m, which represents a record annual low.
And the average value had also fallen by 44% to £82,381.
The total value of judgments last year in all courts here was £21.6m, compared with £36m in 2017 - a fall of 40%, Registry Trust said.
Trust deputy chairman Mick McAteer said: "Northern Ireland saw a welcome fall in the number and value of judgments in 2018. It will be worth monitoring to see if judgment levels return to the lows seen in 2016."
The Registry Trust said it received 30,541 local requests to search its register online at trustonline.org.uk in 2018.
The online service allows anyone to search for judgments and similar information registered against consumers and businesses in any jurisdiction across Britain and Ireland.
"We have upgraded TrustOnline to make it mobile friendly," said Mr McAteer.
"It is now cheap, quick and efficient to enquire about whoever you transact with. If there's a judgment on their record, think twice."
Registry Trust also provides its licensed credit reference agencies with regular updates on outstanding judgment debts. The information affects the ability of all enterprises to borrow.