Debt Recovery Claims & MOJ Statistics

Debt recovery claims and civil claims generally are shown to have declined greatly according to the Ministry of Justice, which has released some statistics to cover the period April to June 2020. This is a period heavily affected by the lock down due to Covid-19. 

On the whole, these statistics show a considerable drop in the number of claims issued in the County Court. During that period there was also a drop in the number of CCJs entered, which is to be expected if the number of claims commenced dropped.

Some key stats include:

  • Money claims dropped by some 79%.
  • Only 4,200 claims went to trial, so down 72%. The number of trials is somewhat surprising. given that the courts went into lock down avoiding face to face hearings, instead dealing with hearings by way of telephone and in some cases by way of video link.
  • It was taking the courts much longer to get claims to trial. In particular small claims were taking more than 5 weeks longer to get trial on average than the same period in 2019.
  • Enforcement applications also went down considerably, presumably on the basis that the ability of bailiffs and High Court Sheriff’s was hindered due to restrictions on enforcement face to face.

All through this period,  the court offices were still operating to process work. The courts were still issuing claims sent. Paper applications and requests for obtaining judgment in default ought not have been affected. It might be that during this period businesses and individuals contemplating using the courts did not want to spend the money on the court fees or alternatively believed that the courts were closed and nothing would happen.

Businesses in particular would be well advised to take steps to recover unpaid invoices in what are uncertain times.

In the report the Ministry of Justice expects the level of claims to return to historic levels. It might be that they bounce back even further if there is a backlog of work that people have been holding off issuing during lock down.

In terms of debt recovery claims, there is no reason to hesitate in using the courts. They are still there and if anything, in the previous quarter were underused.