8.4 Focus on civil law
This section provides results on adults' experience of problems in different areas of their life, referred to as civil law problems, and their response to such problems.
These findings are based on questions asked of one-quarter of the overall SCJS sample. As agreed with SCJS users, these results are generally not broken down within the report for population sub-groups. However, some breakdowns are presented here for illustration. All results for demographic and area characteristics are provided in the 2018/19 SCJS online data tables.
More details on civil justice in Scotland, including data on civil law cases and information on court procedures, is provided in the Civil Justice Statistics publication.
How common were experiences of civil law problems?
Three-in-ten adults experienced civil law problems in the three years prior to interview.
Adults were asked if they had experienced one or more of a range of possible civil law problems in the three years prior to interview. The problem areas covered were:
- home or family living arrangements
- money, finances or anything paid for
- unfair treatment
- health and well-being
The 2018/19 SCJS estimates that around three-in-ten (29%) adults in Scotland experienced at least one civil law problem in the previous three years. This is in line with the proportions who experienced such problems in 2008/09 and 2017/18.
This proportion varied amongst certain population sub-groups. For example, victims of crime were more likely to have experienced civil law problems (42%) compared to non-victims (27%). Those who lived in the 15% most deprived areas in Scotland were more likely to have experienced civil law problems (37%) than those in the rest of Scotland (28%), and there was also a difference between those who lived in urban areas (30%) compared to those in rural areas (22%).
Problems around home or family living arrangements were the most common, and among these, problems with neighbours were the most prominent issue reported.
Overall, problems around home or family living arrangements were the most common, experienced by one-in-five adults (20%). This was followed by problems with money, finances or anything paid for (9%), unfair treatment (6%), and problems around health and well-being (also 6%).
Each of these broad categories contain a range of more specific individual problems, as shown in Figure 8.12 below. Consistent with previous years, the most common single problem involved issues to do with neighbours. In 2018/19, 14% of adults said they had encountered such issues in the three years prior to interview, in line with the proportions in 2008/09 and 2017/18.
Base: All adults (1,380); Variable: QVJUS1 – QVJUS4
Among those who had experienced at least one civil law problem in the last three years, over a third (36%) said that a problem concerning neighbours was their most important (or only) problem to solve.
How long had problems lasted and what steps did people report having taken to resolve matters?
Almost half had solved the problem, while a third were still trying to solve it.
Once respondents had identified their most important (or only) civil law problem, they were asked when it started and whether they have attempted to solve it.
A third (33%) of these problems began less than a year ago, and 17% started over a year but less than two years ago. The remainder of these problems were older, with 15% starting over two years but less than three years ago and 35% starting over three years ago.
Just over two-fifths of adults (44%) had solved the problem, while a third (33%) were still trying to solve it. One-in-ten (10%) had tried to solve the problem but had to give up and a similar proportion (11%) were not planning to do anything about it.