The Government has just released scores on the doors for County- Court civil (non-family) cases in England and Wales for July to September.
The number of cases "dealt with" stood at almost half a million – an increase of around 24% on the same the previous year. This is the highest quarterly total since 2008, and is driven entirely by an increasing trend in specified money claims being issued at the County Court Business Centre (CCBC).
Specified Money claims
91% of claims were money claims. These claims can be filed on line and are then issued in bulk by the County Court Business Centre (CCBC) in Northampton.
The number of claims "issued" is reflective of the volume of claims filed and the increase in claims is of concern since it is a gauge of the number of debt recovery contract and property damage disputes (amongst other claim types) being pursued.
Household debt is rising
The governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has given a warning about the high level of debt in UK households. In particular he said that consumers were borrowing more on their credit cards and other unsecured debt. Figures showed that credit card lending is at a record level, up by £571m in the last month.
Non-specified Money claims
9% of claims were non-specified money claims – which were mainly personal injury claims. Despite protestations about ever –increasing volumes of whip-lash cases, the number of non- specified Money claims reduced by 8% compared to the same quarter in 2015.
Early help to chase debts
Once they have registered to use our on-line legal services Essential Business Legal policyholders can create a series of useful debt recovery letters which can be effective in avoiding arrears accruing. Our legal document website has smart software that allows the user to populate the letters by prompting for required information in response to simple questions. Guidance notes are available to help with this process and there is a progress bar which shows how much of the process has been completed.
The first letter in the series is a polite reminder. If no agreement to pay is received after a couple of weeks the second letter can be sent to the debtor. The third letter is a final demand which can be used as a "letter before action" if the customer still refuses to pay the sum(s) owed. Users should select "Money Claims on-line" when they get to a question about filing a claim .The documents are so smart that they allow the user to automatically calculate and add interest for late payment.
We would recommend that policyholders retain evidence that they have sent the letter(s) – either by retaining confirmation of recorded delivery or e-mail receipt. When all attempts to collect have been exhausted, policyholders can download a claim form (from the legal services website, or from our company website). This should be completed and sent to us with evidence of sending the debt recovery letters. We will validate the claim and instruct a lawyer under the terms of our Insured's LEI policy to pursue the debt.
Final words from me…. Debts are increasing…. Get your ARAG policyholders to register for on-line legal services. It could prevent debts escalating but if it becomes necessary to pursue legal action you have them covered!