There was a small increase in the numbers of decrees for debt against Scottish consumers during the first half of 2017, according to figures released by Registry Trust. In the first six months of 2017, 10,967 debt decrees were registered against consumers in Scotland, a four percent increase on the same period last year. The average value of a consumer decree fell 10 percent to £3,000, bringing the combined value of all consumer decrees down by six percent to £32.9m.

There were marked differences in the trends for small claims and summary causes and ordinary cause decrees. While the number and value of small claims and summary causes increased, these numbers fell for ordinary cause decrees. The average small claims and summary causes decree was worth £1,724, the highest on record; the average ordinary cause decree was worth £16,014.

Only four percent of decrees were marked as satisfied in the first two quarters of 2017, far lower than the 12 percent of satisfied debt judgments in England and Wales, where satisfaction rates are generally higher owing to legal differences.

Under a new initiative from Registry Trust, lenders are being encouraged to notify the Trust directly when a decree has been settled to their satisfaction. At the moment, the onus lies with the consumer to take the action, which is logical but does not work well enough in practice. Lender notification would make an immediate difference in Scotland, helping transform access to credit for thousands of consumers.

“It is time consumers were helped to register payments and improve their histories,” said Registry Trust chairman Malcolm Hurlston CBE. “It cannot be fair that such a low proportion of satisfactions are marked in Scotland. We are taking the initiative to work fast with responsible lenders, including the Credit Services Association which launched a new code of conduct last month.”

Statistics:

All consumer decrees Q1 and Q2 2017 (compared with Q1 and Q2 2016)
Total: 10,967 (up four percent)
Value: £32.9m (down six percent)
Average: £3,000 (down 10 percent)

Small claims and summary cause decrees Q1 and Q2 2017
Total: 9,988 (up four percent)
Value: £17.2m (up 18 percent)
Average: £1,724 (up 13 percent)

Ordinary cause decrees Q1 and Q2 2017
Total: 979 (down five percent)
Value: £15.6m (down 24 percent)
Average: £16,014 (down 19 percent)