The value of judgments registered in Ireland against companies and individuals rocketed to more than €1bn for the first time last year as the taxman, credit unions and banks turned to the courts to ensure debtors met their financial obligations, according to data obtained by the Irish Independent.
There were 7,447 judgments worth €1.18bn registered in 2010 -- more than three times the monetary amount secured in 2009, when 5,557 judgments worth €376.4m were registered through the courts.
The single biggest registered judgment in 2010 was for €98.1m against Bernard McNamara's Donatex vehicle. It related to the Irish Glass Bottle site in Dublin and was secured by Jersey-based Ringsend Property, a company owned by private investors fronted by Davy Stockbrokers.
The figures, prepared for the Irish Independent by global information services group Experian, revealed the average value of a registered judgment in 2010 was €159,519 -- compared with €67,742 in 2009.
The data excludes summary and non-registered judgments.
The Collector General was among the most active in the courts last year, securing 1,991 registered judgments valued at €164m -- representing nearly 27pc of all registered judgments but just 14pc of the overall value.
A Cork company, J&C (East Cork) Developments, was stung with the taxman's biggest registered judgment, which was for €1.65m. The company was controlled by Midleton-based Philip Jordan and Peter Cuthbert of Ballycotton, Co Cork.
Banks obtained 459 registered judgments worth €711.3m last year. The biggest were secured against four Cork businessmen, who were each hit with a €38.2m registered judgment by Anglo Irish Bank.
Judgments worth a total of €147.7m were registered in 168 cases where the defendants described themselves as company directors.
Credit unions were also active, securing 540 judgments worth almost €9m. The single biggest, for €726,401, was secured by St Jarlath's credit union in Galway against Noel Burke of 10 St Claire's, Taylors Hill, in the city.
Bernard Ball, manager of 'Experian Gazette', said 106 judgments were registered where the value of each exceeded €1m. Many related to high-profile developers, he added.
"The number of judgments registered has also grown, with a 34pc increase from 2009 to 2010," said Mr Ball. "While this reflects an increase in defaults, the data is unable to tell us whether an increase in willingness to pursue debts through the courts and register the outcome is also contributing."
Phone companies were the most active of the utilities in pursuing debts, with 363 judgments worth a total of €450,351.