Civil justice statistics in Scotland: 2016-2017

The 2016-17 Civil Justice in Scotland release includes main statistics tables and figures and supplementary statistics tables.

This document is part of a collection

10. Repossession

The number of repossession cases initiated continued to fall in 2016-17 (6% down compared to 2015-16, 83% down compared to 2008-09)

Repossession in Scotland

Repossession cases involve the retaking of property when a borrower is in breach or default of a mortgage or loan secured on the property. It is usually the lender that takes ownership of the property, which is often sold to repay the outstanding mortgage or loan balance. Repossession should not be confused with eviction which, for the purposes of these statistics, refers to the removal of tenants from a rented property.

If the mortgage or secured loan lender has concerns about the level of the arrears, or is not satisfied with the proposals to repay them, he or she can raise a repossession claim in the courts. This can only happen after the lender has given a calling-up notice and has complied with pre-action requirements. Until recently, repossession cases relating to mortgages and loans were dealt with under ordinary cause procedure. However, the introduction of the Home Owner and Debtor Protection (Scotland) Act 2010 on 30 September 2010 led to these cases being raised as summary applications instead.

However, where a repossession case relates to non-residential land or property, the action may be raised either as a summary application or as an ordinary action. Accordingly, a number of repossession cases relating to non-residential property or land continue to be raised as ordinary cause.

If successful, the pursuer has the right to take possession of the property. It is important to note that the granting of a repossession case means the court has permitted repossession to take place, but the order may not be ultimately enforced.

Repossession made up 2% of all civil court cases initiated in 2016-17 (Table 20, Table 1).

Courts statistics

There were 1,753 repossession cases initiated in 2016-17 (Table 20). This represents a 6% decrease compared to 2015-16 and is 83% lower than the number initiated in 2008-09 (Figure 12).

The overall decrease in the number of repossession cases since 2008-09 is likely to be linked to the overall recovery in the Scottish economy during this period.

Part of the decrease in the number of repossession cases initiated in recent years may have been a consequence of the Bank of Scotland vs Rea case in 2014. The case related to the level of charges made against customers with mortgage arrears. Following the decision of the High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland in this case, some lenders were required to change their processes for handling arrears, which may have further contributed to the decrease in initiated cases.

The introduction of the Home Owner and Debtor Protection (Scotland) Act 2010 and the UK Supreme Court judgment in the RBS v Wilson case mentioned above resulted in the marked decrease in ordinary cause cases and the corresponding increase in summary applications observed in 2010-11 and 2011-12

In 2016-17, 65% of repossession summary applications were granted (Table 21).

Figure 12: Repossession cases by procedure

Figure 12: Repossession cases by procedure


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