Consumer debt rises sharply as Covid protections unwound

Number of judgments registered against Irish consumers was 233, an increase of 85%

The Four Courts in Dublin

The Four Courts in Dublin

 

The total value of registered debt owed by consumers in the third quarter of this year three and a half times that of the same period in 2020 as interventions designed to protect households from the financial effects of Covid-19 were unwound.

The latest data from the Registry Trust data, which covers the third quarter, shows the number and total value of judgments registered against Irish consumers saw large rises over the period.

The number of judgments registered against Irish consumers was 233, an increase of 85 percent on the 126 seen in the same quarter last year. The report noted that numbers are volatile and are down on the 307 registered in the previous quarter of this year.

The total value of registered debt owed by consumers was €15.8 million, three and a half times the €4.6 million seen the year before.

“But, care must be taken with large percentage rises like this as the number and value of judgments in the third quarter of 2020 were artificially low due to interventions designed to protect households from the financial effects of Covid,” the Registry Trust said.

The average value of consumer judgments registered was also much higher at €67,675, an increase of 84 percent on the €36,849 seen in the same quarter last year.

But, the median value fell again, falling 14 percent from €10,314 to €8,8671 year-on-year. “This suggests a pattern of more, smaller judgments registered with a number of very large judgments pushing up the overall average,” the Registry Trust said.

Judgments against Irish businesses also rose significantly, up by three quarters from 78 in to 137 year-on-year. The total value owed was €3.7 million, four times the €907,346 the year before.

The average value of business judgments was up by 130 percent, from €11,633 to €26,740. The median value also rose from €5,987 to €7,532, an increase of just over one quarter.

Registrar Mick McAteer said: “Government and regulatory interventions, and creditor forbearance, were clearly protecting Irish consumers and businesses from the full financial effects of Covid last year.

“Care should be taken in interpreting the very large percentage rises in judgments reported now, as numbers are volatile.

“But, overall, the trend in judgment numbers would now seem to be upwards, creating concerns that the Covid financial crisis is far from over for vulnerable consumers and businesses.”

The collated figures are based only on judgments registered at the request and cost of creditors at the Four Courts in Dublin from courts across the Republic and therefore provide only a partial picture of debt.

Judgments can be removed from the register if paid in full within one calendar month of the issue date. If fully paid outside the one calendar month, the defendant can apply to have the judgment marked as “satisfied” to improve their credit rating.