Despite the encouraging news that the number and total value of county court judgments (CCJs) issued against businesses in England and Wales fell sharply during the first quarter of 2016, the picture for SMEs is a cause for concern.
According to figures released by Registry Trust, CCJs are now at the lowest level since before the financial crisis, but SMEs are bucking the trend by recording more CCJs than larger businesses over the last year.
The research shows that although the volume of CCJs against businesses has dropped by 17 per cent, the trend for SMEs went in the opposite direction.
The report said that, “generally smaller businesses which were not incorporated, fared much worse with numbers rising rather than falling.”
Understanding the drivers behind the figures may take some time. “There is a stark difference this quarter between the performance of companies and smaller enterprises,” said Registry Trust chairman Malcolm Hurlston CBE. “It will be easier to interpret this information when the VAT Register information is made available.”
General decline in CCJs
Overall, there were 21,860 CCJs recorded against business in England and Wales during the first three months of 2016, a 17 percent fall on the same period the previous year and the lowest first quarter since the financial crisis high of 71,867 judgments in Q1 2009.
Similarly, the total value of CCJs against businesses in England and Wales fell 11 percent from £87m in Q1 2015 to £78m in Q1 2016, the lowest Q1 result since the crash.
But the average value of a business CCJ in the first quarter of the year increased six percent to £3,554.