Friday 19 December 2014

Household debt problems are starting to ease

Published 09/08/2014 | 02:30

Household debt has fallen
Household debt has fallen

There has been a fall in the number of court judgments registered against consumers over unpaid debts in the first half of this year.

The move is being hailed as a sign that the chronic household debt problem is beginning to ease.

The number of consumer debt judgements dropped by almost one-fifth in the first half of this year compared with the same period last year, according to a company that collates data from the courts.

There were 1,730 registered consumer judgments in the first half of 2014.

This was almost 20pc lower than the 2,144 judgments 
recorded in the same period last year, the firm that collects the data, Registry Trust, said.

Despite the declining number, the total value of the judgments rose slightly to €204.4m.

Registry Trust chairman Malcolm Hurlston said: "Irish borrowers are now managing their debt better, whether they are businesses or individuals.

"There is clearly now scope for more prudent borrowing to speed the economic recovery."

He added that the figures only include judgments which lenders have chosen to register. About twice as many more lie uncollected in local courts.

It is only possible to get information on registered judgments. This is where a court decides that money is owed to a creditor, and the creditor then registers the judgment, which allows its details to be published.

Since October 2010, the Court Services has refused permission to correspondents to collect unregistered judgments.

The grounds given were that it was not specifically written into statute that information on unregistered judgments could be collected.

The registered judgment figures for businesses were also positive.

The number of registered judgments against businesses fell 34pc to a new half-year low of 641 in 2014, a 61pc reduction compared with the 1,628 judgments recorded in the first half of 2011. The total value of business judgments halved to €23m.

The downwards trend applied to both corporate and non-corporate businesses, the latter typically being smaller enterprises.

Judgments registered against non-corporates were down 38pc to 246 in the first half of 2014, while corporate judgments fell by 31pc to 395.

In the first half of 2014, Registry Trust received 10,209 search requests for Ireland, the bulk of which were made online via www.trustonline.org.uk.

The better debt judgment figures come amid tentative indicators that the worst may be over for the economy. Consumer confidence is improving, and unemployment has hit its lowest rate in five years.

This week the Economic and Social Research Institute said as many as 52,000 people are set to be lifted off the dole queues next year.

The think-tank is predicting the economy will grow by 3.4pc this year, higher than the Government's 2.1pc estimate.

Irish Independent

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