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Civil litigation figures show small overall rise in latest year

28 March 2017

Civil cases raised in the Scottish courts were up by 1% overall in 2015-16, according to figures published today by Scotland’s Chief Statistician.

A total of 77,721 cases were initiated across the Court of Session, sheriff courts and the newly established Sheriff Personal Injury Court, excluding summary applications. This is a rise of 1% from the previous year's 76,800 and similar to the total in the previous three years, which have shown a levelling out after a 41% fall since the beginning of the statistical time series in 2008-09.

Compared to the previous year, the number of cases initiated in the Court of Session decreased by 16%. This was driven by a 30% decrease in the number of personal injury cases, as a consequence of the establishment of the Sheriff Personal Injury Court by the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014. In contrast, the number of cases initiated in the sheriff courts (which accounted for 93% of all civil law cases) increased by 1%.

Overall there were 5% fewer personal injury cases initiated compared with 2014-15. However the annual figure has fluctuated markedly since 2008-09 and this follows an 11% rise the previous year. Cases resulting from road accidents made up the majority of personal injury cases (56% in 2015-16).

The wider number of damages cases decreased by 2%, continuing a long-term downward trend (50% since 2008-09).

Family cases were down from 13,605 to 12,892, of which 77% concerned divorce or dissolution and a further 17% parental responsibilities and rights. This total is down only 13% since 2008-09.

Debt cases made up 45% of all civil court cases initiated in 2015-16. There were 3% more debt cases than in 2014-15 but 47% fewer than in 2008-09.

Cases of repossession following a breach of a mortgage or loan secured on a property were down by 43% year on year to 1,874. These have fallen by 82% since 2008-09. However cases involving eviction of tenants across the public and private rented sectors rose for the third year in a row, by 7% to 14,690, but are still 26% lower than in 2008-09.

Click here to view the full report.

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