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Increase in court fees behind fall in business judgments

10th Aug 2016

The not-for-profit body which compiles statistics on judgments has stated that an increase in court fees has contributed to the steady decline in debt rulings against businesses.

Figures compiled by Registry Trust have revealed that there were 42,091 county court judgments (CCJs) recorded against businesses in England and Wales during the first six months of 2016, a 19% fall year on year, whilst the total value of CCJs was £149m, a decrease of 12%. Though the total number and value of CCJs fell to its lowest since before the financial crisis of 2008, the average value rose by 8% to £3,550.

Last year, the government imposed the biggest increases in civil court fees of recent years, amounting to up to 620%. Master of the rolls Lord Dyson told the Commons justice select committee earlier this year that small and medium-sized businesses in particular have been deterred from seeking justice.

The number of High Court judgments fell by 50% compared with the first half of 2015 to 33. With the total value rising 36%, the average value increased by 27% to reach the figure of £644,000.

Registry Trust chairman Malcolm Hurlston CBE said that “Up to Brexit, businesses have been doing consistently well. This has been a long and cautious spell of recovery.” However, Hurlston conceded to the Law Society Gazette that solicitors who have cited higher court fees as a factor in the decline are correct.

“We understand that the volume of business judgments in particular has been affected by the rise in court fees,” he said. “We have not carried out our own research but that would seem to tie in with common sense, particularly in the immediate aftermath of a price change.”