Figures from the Registry Trust, which compiles official statistics on the number and value of court judgments against consumers and corporations, show a decline in debt judgments against businesses in 2012.
Over the course of the year, £507 million in judgments were enforced against British businesses, a 14% (£85 million) drop from the £592 million of the previous year.
In terms of the number of individual judgments made, there were 122,900 in 2012 and 140,500 in 2011 – a fall of 17,600.
Malcolm Hurlston, chairman of the Registry Trust, says the statistics make it clear that fewer businesses are now facing debt-related court action.
“When looked at together with the number of company insolvencies, which have also fallen year-on-year, you might think this was cause for celebration as businesses have been able to repay their debts,” he comments.
“However, this reduction probably reflects the lower level of lending to business over recent years.”
Over the longer term, since 2009 judgments against companies have fallen by 40% from over 200,000, while corporate insolvencies have dropped by a slightly more modest 15%.
But with lending to businesses still relatively tight, the months to come could help to reveal whether the fall in judgments is due to improved trading conditions, or simply because firms are finding it impossible to gain approval for new loans at this time.