Repossessions up 35 per cent in Northern Ireland

The Court Service in the province said today that 1,020 writs and summonses were issued in the High Court in relation to mortgages.

That was a steep rise on the 754 at the same time a year earlier and nearly double the 566 actions in the first quarter of 2007.

The number of actions showed an acceleration of those through the whole of 2008 when there were 3,628 in 12 months - a figure which itself was 64% up on 2007.

During the first quarter a total of 743 mortgage cases were disposed of by the courts.

Not all the actions resulted in the occupier being told to quit the property.

However, possession orders were granted in 455 cases -meaning the property had to be handed back within a specified time.

In a further 240 cases a suspended possession order was issued. The court can postpone the date for possession if it is satisfied the homeowner is likely to be able, within a reasonable period, to pay any money owed under the mortgage.

A suspended possession order cannot be enforced by the bank or building society without permission of the court at a further hearing.

There was one declaration, sale and possession order during the quarter, while five applications were dismissed and five more struck out.