There were 72,100 civil law cases initiated across the Court of Session and sheriff courts in 2018-19 (excluding summary applications). This represents a decrease of 11% from 2017-18, which continues the long-term downward trend in court business levels over the last ten years.
Following changes made by court reform legislation:
- Business has moved out of the Court of Session, decreasing by 48% since 2015-16. Some of this business will have been displaced to sheriff courts, where the exclusive competence for cases on which sheriffs can rule has increased to £100,000.
- The specialised Sheriff Personal Injury Court has expanded its caseload since its inception in 2015-16, and now covers nearly 40% of personal injury cases in Scotland.
- Small claim procedure in the sheriff courts is now effectively replaced by the new simple procedure. Simple procedure has also replaced the more straightforward cases previously brought as summary cause.
The types of civil justice problems encountered by people in Scotland and resolved in the courts has not changed much over the past ten years. Debt actions remain the most common, constituting 41% of principal craves. Family and Eviction actions were second and third most common, at 18% and 17% respectively.
In the context of decreasing levels of business overall, most case types have decreased in parallel since 2017-18. The largest decreases were recorded for Debt (down 20%), Eviction (down 15%) and Repossession (down 9%). However, damages cases have increased by 8% and famil y cases rose by 3%. Seventy-four per cent of family type cases had divorce/dissolution as the principal crave.
All sheriffdoms in Scotland experienced a decrease in business levels from 2017-18. Between 2017-18 and 2018-19, Grampian, Highlands and Islands alongside Glasgow and Strathkelvin saw the largest decrease in initiated cases (both down 16%), while North Strathclyde saw the smallest (down 7%).
The 2017-18 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey shows that nearly three in ten adults were estimated to have experienced at least one civil law problem during the previous three years. The most common type of issues were disputes with neighbours (15%), followed by problems with faulty goods or services (5%), and money and debt issues (4%).