Year-on-year figures for first quarter follow warnings from Bank of England, MPs and charities over dangerous levels of debt.
Nearly 300,000 debt judgments were filed against individuals in English and Welsh county courts in the first three months of 2017, the highest quarterly figure for more than 10 years.
Figures from the Registry Trust show a 35% rise compared with the first quarter of last year in county court judgments (CCJs) against borrowers who found themselves unable to pay their debts.
The trust, which compiles the figures on behalf of the Department of Justice, said there were 298,901 debt judgments registered against consumers in England and Wales in the first three months of 2017, the highest figure for a single quarter in over a decade.
The figures highlight growing alarm over rapid increases in household spending over the last two years fuelled by extra borrowing.
Anti-poverty charities have warned that the growing number of people taken to court for failing to pay their debts could worsen this year as rising inflation and slowing wage growth eat into household finances.
In recent months the Bank of England, MPs and charities have warned that consumer debt levels were dangerously high, citing increases in lending from banks, car leasing companies, credit card firms and shops offering interest free-credit.