Publication - Statistics publication

Civil Justice Statistics in Scotland 2013-14

Published: 21 Jul 2015
Part of:
Statistics
ISBN:
9781785445408

The 2013-14 Civil Justice in Scotland release includes:

1. Main statistics tables (compromising tables that appear in this bulletin)

2. Divorce & dissolution statistics tables (further breakdowns on divorce & dissolution)

3. Supplementary statistics tables (additional statistics on civil law cases in sheriff courts and the Court of Session)

4. Background data tables (an interactive dataset on civil law court cases by court, that can be used to generate user customised tables and charts)

65 page PDF

1.2 MB

65 page PDF

1.2 MB

Contents
Civil Justice Statistics in Scotland 2013-14
6. Debt

65 page PDF

1.2 MB

6. Debt

Debt cases have nearly halved since 2008-09

Over three-quarters of debt cases were small claims

Less than one in ten debt cases were defended

Scottish Crime and Justice Survey

Three per cent of respondents to the 2012-13 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey reported having money and debt problems. The highest prevalence of money and debt issues was in the 25 to 44 age group, with five per cent reporting a problem. Owner-occupiers had the lowest prevalence of money and debt issues (two per cent), in contrast to social renters and those in private rented accommodation (both six per cent). Those who live in areas of multiple deprivation were also more likely to report an issue related to money and debt (five per cent) than the rest (three per cent). The prevalence of money and debt problems was the same for both urban and rural dwellers (three per cent).

Courts

Where there is a dispute over a debt and a creditor wishes to enforce their right for payment for goods sold, services provided or money lent they can raise a debt case in court. There are multiple routes to debt management or resolution of debt issues of which raising a case in court is just one. The Scottish Legal Aid Board has reported on the availability and accessibility of legal services in relation to debt in their second monitoring report.

Only where a debt involves a very complex legal dispute or is high value is it likely to be raised in the Court of Session and just three cases were initiated in the Court of Session in 2013-14. Debt cases in the sheriff court can be raised as small claim, summary cause or ordinary cause cases depending on the value of the case. Ordinary cause cases may use either the ordinary or commercial procedure.

There were 35,390 debt cases initiated across the sheriff courts and Court of Session in 2013-14. This was similar to the number initiated in 2012-13 but 46 per cent lower than the 65,798 cases initiated in 2008-09 (Figure 13 and Table 11). One possible reason for this is the economic downturn which has led creditors to feel there is little to gain from pursing a court action where there little chance of recovering what is owed.

Over three quarters (78 per cent) of debt cases initiated in 2013-14 were small claim. Ordinary cause - ordinary procedure and summary cause cases made up most of the rest of the cases and ordinary cause - commercial procedure cases accounted for less than one per cent of initiated debt cases.

Across all debt case types five per cent were defended (excluding absolvitor disposals). Sixty two per cent of debt cases were disposed in favour of the pursuer (Table 12).

Figure 13: Debt cases in the civil courts

Figure 13: Debt cases in the civil courts

Table 11: Debt cases initiated and disposed of in the civil courts, by case type, 2008-09 to 2013-14

Cases Procedure 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 % change
on 2012-13
Initiated Court of Session 23 1 4 8 6 5 -17
Sheriff: ordinary cause 14,669 12,054 9,200 6,944 5,487 4,586 -16
Sheriff commercial 400 318 223 266 222 241 9
Sheriff: summary cause 7,157 5,307 4,415 3,922 3,381 3,114 -8
Sheriff: small claim 43,549 38,251 31,533 29,110 26,803 27,444 2
Total initiated 65,798 55,931 45,375 40,250 35,899 35,390 -1
Disposed Court of Session 28 16 2 2 2 6 200
Sheriff: ordinary cause 12,553 10,150 7,729 5,885 4,534 3,566 -21
Sheriff: commercial 252 231 166 175 117 143 22
Sheriff: summary cause 7,097 5,772 4,337 3,884 3,324 2,906 -13
Sheriff: small claim 38,594 40,347 31,026 28,934 26,023 25,876 -1
Total disposed 58,524 56,516 43,260 38,880 34,000 32,497 -4

1. Figures for initiations and disposals do not necessarily refer to the same cases.
2. Court of Session statistics for 2013-14 corrected November 2015.

Table 12: Debt cases initiated and disposed of in the civil courts, by case type and final disposal, 2013-14

Case type Initiated Disposed Disposed
Absolvitor Dismissed For pursuer Expenses only Other
Defended Undefended Defended Undefended Defended Undefended
Court of Session 5 6 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Sheriff: ordinary cause 4,586 3,566 436 155 325 314 2,269 25 6 36
Sheriff: commercial 241 143 51 3 6 13 67 2 0 1
Sheriff: summary cause 3,114 2,906 150 81 798 66 1,763 5 14 29
Sheriff: small claim 27,444 25,876 545 625 8,341 307 15,383 35 469 171
Total 35,390 32,497 1,188 864 9,470 700 19,482 67 489 237

1. Figures for initiations and disposals do not necessarily refer to the same cases.
2. Court of Session statistics corrected November 2015.


Contact

Email: Alasdair Anthony