CCJ’s – How can we turn more of these pieces of paper into payments to aid creditors cash flow?
The last full year statistics available for County Court Judgments (CCJ’s) entered relates to 2019 when 1,617,863 CCJ’s were processed. Only 120,337 of these CCJ’s were transferred up to the High Court for enforcement by way of a Writ, which represents around 7.4% of them. 2019 saw a 3% increase in the number of CCJ’s entered in comparison to the previous year, which, continued an upward trend. The total value of the CCJ’s processed during this period equalled £2,528,611,739. The average value of these CCJ’s was £710.
308,858 of these CCJ’s were subsequently marked as satisfied. However, in my experience, a lot of debtors do not realise it is their responsibility to apply for a Certificate of Satisfaction. Often, this requirement does not come to their attention until they subsequently apply for further credit, such as for a mortgage, and the CCJ is flagged up and they then take steps to update their credit file. It begs the question of how many CCJ’s are paid but not recorded as satisfied.
The above scenarios account for around 20% of these CCJ’s by highlighting those where High Court Writs have been issued and those marked as satisfied but what happens to the other 80%? I believe more guidance and support is needed to help judgment creditors choose the appropriate method of enforcement.
The Civil Justice Statistics for 2019 show that 290,000 Warrants of Control were issued that year. The number being issued decreased in each quarter of that year compared to the same periods of the previous year. In the first quarter the number was down 11%, in the second quarter down 17%, in the third quarter down 9% and in the final quarter down a whopping 30%. This clearly shows that this method of enforcement is in decline and it begs the question as to why that is. The number of warrants issued in 2019 equates to 17.9% of the total number of CCJ’s entered that year.
Currently, any CCJ for under £600 or regulated by the Consumer Credit Act (unless it is over £25,000) cannot be transferred up to the High Court for enforcement. In these cases, where enforcement against goods is required, a County Court Warrant of Control must be issued, which is enforced by the County Court Bailiff. Historically, the County Court Bailiff Service has been found to be ineffective and a lot of creditors have stopped using it over the years. Also, the Court fees payable on the issue of a Warrant of Control have also increased.
Creditors and their solicitors often give the impression that they find the service to be constantly facing a backlog and clearly overwhelmed. Surely, this presents the business case for opening up of the jurisdiction order so that debts under £600 and regulated debts can be enforced in the High Court.
Enhanced signposting is also needed for solicitors, creditors and litigants in person as to the options to use both the County Court Bailiff or the High Court Enforcement Officer when the CCJ debt is between £600 and £5,000.
Often, people do not realise that where the CCJ is for £5,000 or more they must use High Court enforcement but also many people are not even aware of the option to use High Court enforcement where the debt is over £600.
Addressing these points and providing greater promotion of the options available would serve to ease the burden on the County Court Bailiff Service and improve access to justice for all; more paid and satisfied CCJ’s, which would be great news for those creditors currently struggling to recover their CCJ’s and desperately in need of the cash due to the difficult times we find ourselves in.
What’s not to like?
Fees: To issue a Warrant of Control (recovery of a sum of money) via Money Claims Online or County Court Business Centre, the fee is £77. To issue a Warrant of Control (recovery of a sum of money) in any other case, the fee is £110. The fee to issue a High Court Writ is £71 and there is a compliance (abortive) fee of £75 plus VAT in the High Court where the procedure is unsuccessful.
CCJ Data: via Registry Trust Ltd website.
Please do not hesitate to contact me for assistance:
Neil Jinks FCICM IRRV
Head of Client Development & Communications