Publication - Statistics

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
7. Personal Injury

81 page PDF

7.5 MB

7. Personal Injury

Summary of Personal Injury

  • Overall, 7,846 personal injury cases were initiated in the civil courts during 2011-12, a decrease of 14 per cent compared to 2010-11.
  • The majority of these related to road traffic accidents (59 per cent) and a further fifth related to accidents at work (22 per cent).
  • Personal injury cases accounted for 76 per cent of business in the General Department of the Court of Session.

Introduction to personal injury law in Scotland

7.1 A personal injury can be physical and/or psychological and can include, amongst other things, an injury received at work, in a traffic accident or through negligence on the part of another party. A person who has suffered an injury can seek to address their issue via several routes, such as making a complaint against the person/organisation they consider to be responsible for the injury, seeking assistance with any financial problems they have as a result of their injury or seeking counselling. Alternatively, they may wish to claim compensation to cover losses they have suffered as a result of the injury. A claim for compensation can be made using a claims assessor or by taking legal action in a civil court and, if successful, would result in a payment of damages being awarded.

7.2 Personal injuries actions are actions of damages for, or arising from, personal injuries or the death of a person from personal injuries, which include any disease or impairment, physical or mental[13]. Personal injury actions do not cover defamation or any actions which are not commonly understood to be concerned with personal injuries; such actions are covered in the following chapter 'Damages'.

Scottish Crime and Justice Survey Findings

7.3 In the 2010-11 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey, two per cent of those who responded to the civil module reported experiencing a personal injury problem in the last three years. Ninety six per cent of these respondents considered their problem to be 'very or quite important', with just over half (53 per cent) stating that it was their most important civil issue. One per cent of those who responded to the civil module reported experiencing a medical negligence issue in the last three years.

Personal injury in the context of the courts

7.4 Personal injury cases are unusual because they can be raised relatively easily in either the General Department of the Court of Session or in the sheriff courts. Personal injury cases account for a considerable proportion of the business of the Court of Session which is likely to be due to its level of expertise.

Table 16: Personal injury cases initiated and disposed of1 in the civil courts2, by case type, 2008-09 to 2011-12

Case Type 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 % change on 2010-11
Initiated
Road Traffic Accident 3,441 4,637 5,790 4,614 -20
Accident at Work 1,921 1,844 1,802 1,751 -3
Other 1,211 2,559 955 931 -3
Asbestos 242 541 345 294 -15
Clinical Negligence 173 235 242 256 -17
Total 6,988 9,816 9,134 7,846 -14
Disposed
Road Traffic Accident 1,588 2,977 4,607 4,619 0
Accident at Work 1,343 1,596 1,529 1,627 6
Other 2,193 1,343 1,074 1,775 65
Asbestos 214 181 168 216 29
Clinical Negligence 32 104 124 133 7
Total 5,370 6,201 7,502 8,370 12

1. Figures for initiations and disposals do not necessarily refer to the same cases. See paragraph 11.9 for further details
2. Includes Court of Session and Sheriff Court

7.5 In total, 7,846 personal injury cases were initiated in the civil courts during 2011-12, a decrease of 14 per cent compared to 2010-11. Road traffic accidents accounted for the majority of cases initiated (59 per cent), with accidents at work accounting for a further fifth of cases (22 per cent). [Table 16].

7.6 The total number of personal injury cases initiated increased by 40 per cent between 2008-09 and 2009-10 but has decreased each year since then. Nonetheless the volume of cases initiated in 2011-12 is 12 per cent greater than in 2008-09. [Table 16].

7.7 The number of personal injury cases initiated relating to road traffic accidents increased by 68 per cent between 2008-09 and 2010-11 before exhibiting a decrease of 20 per cent during 2011-12. The number of asbestos related personal injury cases initiated increased by 124 per cent between 2008-09 and 2009-10 but has decreased annually since then. The higher level in 2009-10 was mainly due to the Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions) (Scotland) Act 2009, which came into force in June 2009 and allows individuals with asbestos-related pleural plaques etc. to raise a court case for personal injury. [Table 16].

7.8 The total number of personal injury cases disposed of during 2011-12 was 8,370, an increase of 12 per cent on the previous year and an increase of 56 per cent compared to 2008-09. This longer term increase appears to be driven by an increase in the number of disposals of personal injury cases relating to road traffic accidents which has increased by 191 per cent, from 1,588 in 2008-09 to 4,619 in 2011-12. [Table 16].

7.9 More personal injury cases relating to road traffic accidents were raised in the sheriff courts, while more cases relating to accidents at work, asbestos and clinical negligence were raised in the Court of Session. [Figure 10].

Figure 10: Number of personal injury cases initiated across all courts, by case type, 2011-12

Figure 10: Number of personal injury cases initiated across all courts, by case type, 2011-12

Court of Session

7.10 There were 2,571 personal injury cases initiated in the General Department of the Court of Session in 2011-12, a 13 per cent decrease on 2010-11 and comprising 76 per cent of all cases initiated in the General Department. Accidents at work (36 per cent) and road traffic accidents (32 per cent) accounted for the greatest proportion of cases initiated, with 11 per cent of cases being asbestos-related. [Table 17]

7.11 The number of cases initiated in the General Department for personal injury relating to pleural plaques continued to fall, with 147 cases initiated during 2011-12, a decrease of 26 per cent compared to 2010-11 and 61 per cent compared to 2009-10. The higher level in 2009-10 was mainly due to the Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions) (Scotland) Act 2009, which came into force in June 2009 and allows individuals with asbestos-related pleural plaquesetc. to raise a court case for personal injury. [Table 17]

7.12 Until now there have been relatively few disposals of these cases, as many were sisted (suspended) pending the UK Supreme Court's decision as regards a judicial review of the Act. Following the decision of the UK Supreme Court dated 12 October 2011 in the case Axa General Insurance Ltd & Others v The Lord Advocate, a direction, no. 2 of 2012, was made by the Lord President on 27 August 2012 outlining the procedures to be followed in the relevant cases and disposals are progressing accordingly.

7.13 Eighty nine per cent of personal injury cases initiated in the General Department in 2011-12 were for reasons not related to Asbestos or Clinical Negligence. Of the 2,409 cases of this type disposed, 96 per cent were defended. A decree of absolvitor was granted in 65 per cent of cases - these are not necessarily decrees granted in favour of the defender, as it is likely that at least some decrees will have been granted after the parties involved have come to an out-of-court settlement. [Table 17]

Sheriff Courts

7.14 There were 5,275 personal injury cases initiated in the sheriff courts during 2011-12, a decrease of 16 per cent compared to 2010-11. Just over half (54 per cent) of cases raised in the sheriff courts were raised through ordinary cause procedure and 46 per cent were raised through summary cause procedure. [Table 18 and Table 19].

7.15 The number of ordinary cause cases initiated decreased by 11 per cent during 2011-12 to 2,838. Two thirds of these cases related to road traffic accidents (66 per cent) and 18 per cent related to accidents at work. The number of cases initiated in relation to clinical negligence increased by 10 per cent during 2011-12 to 117. [Table 18].

7.16 The number of ordinary cause cases disposed of increased by almost a third (30 per cent) during 2011-12 to 3,373. Of these, 96 per cent of cases were defended, with a decree of absolvitor being granted in 70 per cent of cases. Again, these are not necessarily decrees granted in favour of the defender, as it is likely that at least some decrees will have been granted after the parties involved have come to an out-of-court settlement. [Table 18].

7.17 The number of personal injury cases initiated through summary cause procedure decreased by 19 per cent during 2011-12 to 2,437. This followed an increase of 22 per cent between 2009-10 and 2010-11. Road traffic accidents accounted for almost four fifths of all summary cause personal injury cases initiated (79 per cent). [Table 19]

7.18 The number of summary cause personal injury cases disposed of decreased by 6 per cent to 2,284. A smaller proportion of these cases were defended (71 per cent) compared to ordinary cause procedure disposals. [Table 19]

Table 17: Personal injury cases1 initiated and disposed of2 in the Court of Session, 2011-12

Case Type Initiated Disposed
Absolvitor Dismissed For Pursuer Expenses Only Other Total
Defended Undefended Defended Undefended Defended Undefended
Accident at Work 925 634 2 2 262 13 3 - 23 939
Road Traffic Accident 834 634 4 - 347 15 3 - 38 1,041
Asbestos 280 169 1 1 32 4 - - 5 212
Live Mesothelioma3 35 32 - - 4 1 - - - 37
Post Mesothelioma3 54 50 - - 13 3 - - 1 67
Pleural Plaques3 147 45 - 1 9 - - - 2 57
Pleural Thickening3 3 4 - - - - - - - 4
Other3 41 38 1 - 6 - - - 2 47
Clinical Negligence 133 70 3 - 11 - - - 8 92
Vibration 38 40 - - 12 - - - - 52
Relative's Claim 11 4 - - 2 - - - - 6
Repetitive Strain Injury 3 2 - - 1 - - - - 3
Other 347 258 13 4 82 2 - 1 8 368
Total 2,571 1,811 23 7 749 34 6 1 82 2,713

1. Personal injury cases are raised under a specific court procedure. Either party can request permission from the court to opt out of this procedure and use the standard ordinary cause procedure. All personal injury cases are shown under Personal Injury in the table above, irrespective of the procedure used. Cases which have been transferred out are double-counted in the data on initiations.
2. Figures for initiations and disposals do not necessarily refer to the same cases. See paragraph 11.9 for further details.
3. Three disposals of repetitive strain injury cases were previously recorded under 'Other' but should have been recorded under 'Repetitive Strain Injury'. This has been corrected in the table above.

Table 18: Ordinary Cause Personal Injury cases initiated and disposed of1 in the sheriff courts, 2011-12

Case Type Initiated Disposed
Absolvitor Dismissed For Pursuer Expenses Only Other Total
Defended Undefended Defended Undefended Defended Undefended
Road Traffic Accident 1,859 1,020 27 12 602 64 14 - 9 1,748
Accident at Work 500 259 8 - 109 15 4 - 4 399
Other 337 1,046 21 5 70 10 6 1 6 1,165
Clinical Negligence4 117 31 4 1 - 1 - - 2 39
Asbestos 14 3 - - 1 - - - - 4
Vibration White Finger 7 10 - - 1 - - - - 11
Repetitive Strain Injury 3 - 1 1 - - - - - 2
Relative's Claim 1 4 - - 1 - - - - 5
Total 2,838 2,373 61 19 784 90 24 1 21 3,373

1. From 2 November 2009 personal injury cases with a claim amount of more than £5,000 are raised under a new ordinary cause - personal injury court procedure. Either party can request permission from the sheriff to opt out of this procedure and use the standard ordinary cause procedure. All personal injury cases with a claim amount of more than £5,000 are shown in the table above, irrespective of the procedure used.
2. Figures for initiations and disposals do not necessarily refer to the same cases. See paragraph 11.9 for further details.
3. Prior to April 2008, personal injury cases were recorded under a single category. Therefore, clinical negligence cases initiated prior to, but disposed of after, April 2008 are recorded under Other.
4. This table has been updated to include 54 clinical negligence cases initiated which were previously ommitted due to misclassification.

Table 19: Summary Cause Personal Injury cases initiated and disposed of1 in the sheriff courts, 2011-12

Case Type Initiated Disposed
Absolvitor Dismissed For Pursuer Expenses Only Other Total
Defended Undefended Defended Undefended Defended Undefended
Road Traffic Accident 1,921 1,124 44 242 108 257 23 7 25 1,830
Accident at Work 326 160 9 45 23 43 6 - 3 289
Other 170 93 6 22 10 20 3 1 3 158
Relative's Claim 10 2 - - - - - - - 2
Clinical Negligence 6 2 - - - - - - - 2
Repetitive Strain Injury 3 3 - - - - - - - 3
Vibration White Finger 1 - - - - - - - - -
Total 2,437 1,384 59 309 141 320 32 8 31 2,284

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


Contact

Email: Howard Hooper