Publication - Statistics publication

Civil Law Statistics in Scotland 2011-12

Published: 5 Dec 2012
Part of:
Statistics
ISBN:
9781782562443

Civil Law Statistics in Scotland 2011-12 provides

information about cases which have gone through the civil courts in Scotland.

together with some wider, contextual information about the extent of civil

problems in Scotland.

81 page PDF

7.5 MB

81 page PDF

7.5 MB

Contents
Civil Law Statistics in Scotland 2011-12
4. General Trends

81 page PDF

7.5 MB

4. General Trends

Summary of General Trends:

  • Almost three in ten adults (27 per cent) had experienced at least one of the civil law problems asked about in the 2010-11 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey in the last three years
  • There were 85,256 civil cases initiated across both the Court of Session and the sheriff courts in 2011-12 (not including summary applications), a drop of 13 per cent on 2010-11 and 35 per cent on 2008-09.
  • There is a large variation in the number of civil cases dealt with by the individual sheriff courts, with Glasgow having over 16,000 cases initiated in 2011-12 compared to the smallest courts which handled fewer than 100 civil cases.
  • Sheriff court cases made up almost three quarters (72 per cent) of all gross civil legal aid costs in 2010-11.

Scottish Crime and Justice Survey: Civil Module

4.1 The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS)[3] included questions on the experience of civil law problems by adults in Scotland and their response to these problems. Respondents were asked about civil problems which may raise a legal issue or which, if not resolved earlier, could ultimately result in legal proceedings, for example, welfare rights, debt, housing, employment, divorce or separation and consumer issues. Respondents were asked about their experiences of problems in different realms of their life in the three years prior to interview[4]. The problems examined were grouped into four different areas:

  • Home, family or living arrangements;
  • Money, finance or anything paid for;
  • Unfair treatment; and
  • Health and well-being.

4.2 Results from the 2010-11 SCJS show that almost three in ten adults (27 per cent) had experienced at least one of the civil law problems asked about in the past three years:

4.3 Sixteen per cent of adults had experienced problems with home, family or living arrangements; 12 per cent had experienced problems with money, finance or things they had paid for; 6 per cent had been treated unfairly in some respect; 6 per cent had experienced health or well-being problems.

4.4 The most common single problem was with neighbours, which 11 per cent had experienced. Six per cent of adults had experienced problems with faulty goods or services and 5 per cent of adults had experienced money or debt problems.

Figure 4: Types of civil law problems experienced: Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2010-11

Figure 4: Types of civil law problems experienced: Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2010-11

4.5 Those people who had experienced a problem were asked what the current situation was with their problem[5]: 53 per cent had solved the problem; 33 per cent were still trying to solve the problem; 8 per cent had tried to solve the problem but had given up; 7 per cent were not planning to do anything to solve the problem.

4.6 When the problem had been solved, most were satisfied with the results; 51 per cent said they were very satisfied and 31 per cent said they were quite satisfied. Six per cent were quite dissatisfied and seven per cent very dissatisfied with the outcome. As satisfaction was only asked of those who had solved the problem, it is not possible to assess the level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the other groups with the outcome.

4.7 Where adults had solved the problem or tried to, 63 per cent had done so with help or advice from others, while 36 per cent said they had done so without any help or advice.

Figure 5: Main sources of providing help or advice to solve/try to solve only/most important problem: Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2010-11

Figure 5: Main sources of providing help or advice to solve/try to solve only/most important problem: Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2010-11

4.8 The prevalence of civil problems experienced by vulnerable groups tends to be greater than for the general population (27 per cent in the 2010-11 SCJS). For example, those who live in rented (as opposed to owner occupied) accommodation (36 per cent), those who live in areas of multiple deprivation (35 per cent) and victims of crime (40 per cent) all suffered a higher prevalence of civil justice problems in 2010-11.

4.9 Similarly, people with added social and economic difficulties are in some cases less likely to have solved their problems than the general population (53 per cent). For example, 48 per cent of those who live in rented (as opposed to owner occupied) accommodation and 49 per cent of those who live in areas of multiple deprivation had solved their problem at the time of the 2010-11 SCJS.

Court data

4.10 There were 85,256 civil cases initiated across both the Court of Session and the sheriff courts in 2011-12 (not including summary applications), a drop of 13 per cent on 2010-11 and 35 per cent on 2008-09. The reasons for the continued decrease in overall civil business are unclear but may be partly due to the current financial climate inhibiting litigation. There is also a corresponding drop in overall disposals over the same period in the sheriff courts. [Table 1] [Table 2].

4.11 The fall in civil cases initiated is mirrored by a fall in the number of cases registered in the criminal courts[6] across the same period; however, the decrease in criminal business may have been affected by summary justice reforms[7] implemented as part of the Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007.

4.12 There were 4,754 first instance cases initiated in the Court of Session in 2011-12, 8 per cent lower than the number of cases initiated in 2010-11, and 11 per cent lower than in 2008-09. Conversely, the number of cases disposed of increased by 13 per cent between 2010-11 and 2011-12 to 4,856. The reason for this increase is likely to be related to a corresponding increase in cases initiated in 2009-10. [Table 1].

Table 1: Cases initiated and disposed of1 in the Court of Session, 2008-09 to 2011-12

Department 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 % change
on 2010-11
General Department
Initiated 3,736 4,479 3,723 3,390 -9
Disposed 3 2,961 3,167 3,187 3,455 8
Petition Department
Initiated 1,473 1,555 1,358 1,223 -10
Disposed 988 1,094 1,035 1,299 26
Inner House2
Initiated 120 118 95 141 48
Disposed 73 95 73 102 40
Total
Initiated 5,329 6,152 5,176 4,754 -8
Disposed 3 4,022 4,356 4,295 4,856 13

1. Figures for initiations and disposals do not necessarily refer to the same cases. See paragraph 11.9 for further details.
2. First instance business only - excludes appeals and reclaiming motions.
3. A new method was introduced by the Scottish Government in 2012 to process data received from the Court of Session which resulted in a slight change being made to the total number of cases disposed of in the General Department for 2010/11. In Civil Judicial Statistics 2010-11, the total number of cases disposed of was 3,183. This has now been amended to 3,187.

4.13 In 2011-12 there were 80,502 cases[8] initiated in the sheriff courts, a fall of 13 per cent on 2010-11 and 36 per cent since 2008-09. The number of cases disposed also fell, to 77,147. This represents a 12 per cent drop since 2010-11 and a 31 per cent drop since 2008-09. [Table 2].

Table 2: Cases1 initiated and disposed of2 in the sheriff courts, by procedure, 2008-09 to 2011-12

Procedure 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 % change
on 2010-11
Initiated
Ordinary Cause 46,477 42,823 34,123 26,021 -24
Summary Cause 32,736 27,464 23,799 22,783 -4
Small Claim 47,091 41,450 34,386 31,698 -8
Total 126,304 111,737 92,308 80,502 -13
Disposed
Ordinary Cause 38,902 33,911 29,768 23,410 -21
Summary Cause 31,231 27,568 24,036 22,434 -7
Small Claim 41,408 43,352 33,700 31,303 -7
Total 111,541 104,831 87,504 77,147 -12

1. Excludes summary applications.
2. Figures for initiations and disposals do not necessarily refer to the same cases. See paragraph 11.9 for further details.

Variation across courts and Sheriffdoms

4.14 The drop in the number of cases initiated is seen across all Sheriffdoms, with North Strathclyde recording the largest drop between 2010-11 and 2011-12 (18 per cent), and Glasgow and Strathkelvin the lowest (8 per cent). [Table 3] [Figure 6].

4.15 Similarly, the drop in the number of cases disposed is seen across all Sheriffdoms in 2011-12. North Strathclyde recorded the largest drop between 2010-11 and 2011-12 (19 per cent), and Glasgow and Strathkelvin the lowest (3 per cent). [Table 3].

Table 3: Cases1 initiated and disposed of2 in the sheriff courts, by sheriffdom, 2008-09 to 2010-11

Sheriffdom 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 % change
on 2010-11
2011-12
cases per
1,000
population3
Initiated
Glasgow & Strathkelvin 24,919 22,389 17,784 16,305 -8 23
Tayside, Central & Fife 22,456 20,204 16,816 14,759 -12 14
South Strathclyde, Dumfries & Galloway 22,949 19,457 16,869 14,171 -16 16
Lothian & Borders 24,469 21,439 16,211 14,148 -13 15
North Strathclyde 17,177 14,907 12,954 10,577 -18 14
Grampian, Highlands & Islands 14,334 13,341 11,674 10,542 -10 12
Scotland 126,304 111,737 92,308 80,502 -13 15
Disposed
Glasgow and Strathkelvin 21,315 20,059 16,134 15,630 -3 22
Tayside, Central and Fife 20,160 18,730 16,081 14,343 -11 13
South Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway 20,829 18,759 15,979 13,749 -14 16
Lothian and Borders 20,384 20,948 15,957 13,494 -15 14
North Strathclyde 15,687 13,455 12,218 9,921 -19 13
Grampian, Highlands and Islands 13,166 12,880 11,135 10,010 -10 12
Scotland 111,541 104,831 87,504 77,147 -12 15

1. Excludes summary applications
2. Figures for initiations and disposals do not necessarily refer to the same cases. See paragraph 11.9 for further details.
3. Based on 2011 mid-year population estimates [Table 25].

4.16 The 2011 mid-year population estimates have been used to determine the number of cases initiated and disposed in each sheriffdom per 1,000 population. Glasgow and Strathkelvin has the most cases initiated per 1,000 population (23 cases per 1,000 population), and Grampian, Highlands and Islands has the least (12 cases per 1,000 population). It is not possible from the data to determine why Glasgow and Strathkelvin should show a higher number of cases per 1,000 population compared to the other sheriffdoms (12-16 cases per 1,000 population). [Table 3].

4.17 There is a large variation in the number of civil cases dealt with by the individual courts, with Glasgow having over 16,000 cases initiated in 2011-12, compared to the smallest courts which handled fewer than 100 civil cases. There were fewer cases initiated in 2011-12 than in 2010-11 in all of the sheriff courts, with 45 (out of 49) courts disposing of fewer cases in 2011-12 than in 2010-11. [Figure 7].

Figure 6: Number of cases initiated, by sheriffdom, 2008-09 to 2011-12

Figure 6: Number of cases initiated, by sheriffdom, 2008-09 to 2011-12

4.18 The Scottish Court Service has suggested that these reductions in the number of cases being initiated and disposed may be affected by several factors. The economic downturn is thought to be affecting the number of debt-related cases being initiated, as the increase in the number of personal insolvencies may cause some creditors to feel that there is no value in raising a debt action where there is little chance of recovering any money. The Home Owner and Debtor Protection Act (Scotland) 2010 may also be responsible for part of the reduction (see paragraph 2.15 for more information).

Commissary Business

4.19 In 2011-12 the number of ordinary estates confirmed increased by one per cent from 21,038 to 21,329, with the average amount of ordinary estates confirmed increasing by one per cent to £205,000. These figures are broadly consistent with the 2008-09 figures, following a dip in 2009-10.

4.20 There were 2,348 small estates confirmed in 2011-12, a fall of eight per cent from the 2,553 confirmed in 2010-11. The average amount of small estates confirmed, however, rose by three per cent from £19,100 to £19,700. [See additional tables on Civil Law Statistics in Scotland website].

Legal aid spending[9]

4.21 In 2011-12, the total number of civil legal aid applications decreased by six per cent to 20,015. Legal aid was paid in 14,915 civil court cases in 2011-12, a five per cent increase compared to 2010-11. In 2011-12, total civil legal aid spending across all courts was almost £46m, an increase of 17 per cent on 2010-11.

4.22 The number of civil legal aid applications relating to the Court of Session decreased by 11 per cent during 2011-12 to 1,191 while the number of cases paid legal aid relating to the Court of Session increased by seven per cent from 930 in 2010-11 to 995 in 2011-12. Civil legal aid spending relating to the Court of Session increased by over a third (38 per cent) to £12.3m during 2011-12.

4.23 The number of cases paid civil legal aid relating to the sheriff courts rose by 5 per cent between 2010-11 and 2011-12. In 2011-12, civil legal aid spending relating to the sheriff courts was £32.9m, an increase of 10 per cent since 2010-11. Civil legal aid paid out for sheriff court cases accounted for almost three quarters of total civil legal aid spending in 2011-12.

Table 4: Civil Legal Aid applications, by court, 2008-09 to 2011-121

Court 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 % change
on 2010-11
Court of Session 1,171 1,299 1,339 1,191 -11
Sheriff Court 16,549 20,662 19,847 18,778 -5
Other Courts 18 67 65 46 -29
Total 17,738 22,028 21,251 20,015 -6

1. The figures in this table are not Official Statistics.

Table 5: Number of civil cases where Legal Aid was paid, by court, 2008-09 to 2011-121

Court 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 % change
on 2010-11
Court of Session 1,000 1,222 930 995 7
Sheriff Court 11,757 11,917 13,301 13,900 5
Other Courts 17 12 10 20 100
Total 12,774 13,151 14,241 14,915 5

1. The figures in this table are not Official Statistics.

Table 6: Total Civil Legal Aid paid out (£000), by court, 2008-09 to 2011-121,2

Court 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 % change
on 2010-11
Court of Session 7,752 8,656 8,944 12,346 38
Sheriff Court 23,701 25,821 29,765 32,877 10
Other Courts 288 535 124 366 195
Total 31,741 35,011 38,834 45,589 17

1. The figures in this table are not Official Statistics.
2. The monetary amounts relating to 2008-09 and 2009-10 were taken from the 2010-11 Annual Report. These figures were restated on a consistent basis with the 2010-11 figures, so will not be the same as the equivalent figures published in previous annual reports.

Figure 7: Number of cases initiated, by sheriffdom and sheriff court, 2011-12

Figure 7: Number of cases initiated, by sheriffdom and sheriff court, 2011-12


Contact

Email: Howard Hooper