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.

9. Damages

The number of damages cases rose for the first time since 2009-10

Small claims made up 40% of damages cases initiated in 2016-17, and just over 40% of disposed cases were dismissed

Over three in four damages cases disposed of in the Court of Session had a decree of absolvitor

Damages in Scotland

Damages are a legal remedy that provide compensation for harmful actions suffered through the fault of another party, either an individual or an organisation. A claim for damages can arise from all sorts of circumstances and include (but is not limited to): defamation, breach of contract, damage to moveable property, negligence, breach of warranty or guarantee, breach of trust, wrongful diligence, wrongful interdict, malicious prosecution, wrongful apprehension or false imprisonment or fraudulent representation and personal injury. For the purpose of these statistics, the definition for damages does not include personal injuries, which are covered separately in the Personal injury section.

The purpose of a damages case is to provide a remedy by measuring, in financial terms, the harm suffered to restore an injured party, as far as practicable, to the position they were in beforehand. The court has responsibility for assessing the damage and agreeing or modifying the damages proposed by the pursuer as it sees fit. Generally, the court will award compensation for loss of business or income through a damaged reputation; or loss of property due to a breach of contract.

Damages cases made up 4% of all civil court cases initiated in 2016-17 (Table 18, Table 1).

Courts statistics

There were 2,810 damages cases initiated in 2016-17, an increase of 22% compared to the previous year, breaking a long-term decline (39% down since 2008-09) (Table 18). The recent rise is partly due to an increase in summary cause and small claims registrations ahead of simple procedure commencing, and also a good take up of simple procedure for damages cases. Small claims continued to account for the largest proportion of damages cases in 2016-17 (40%), although that proportion has been decreasing since 2008-09 (Figure 11) and for the first time other procedures have made up the larger proportion of cases. The decline shall continue as both small claims and summary cause procedures are being replaced by simple procedure.

Forty three per cent of small claims damages cases disposed of were dismissed (Table 19). The pattern of disposals for other damages cases was different, with absolvitor being the most common disposal overall, particularly for cases in the Court of Session.

Figure 11: Damages cases initiated in the civil courts

Figure 11: Damages cases initiated in the civil courts


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