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Lowest number of civil law cases

Published: 18 Mar 2016 09:30

An Official Statistics Publication for Scotland.

The number of civil law cases initiated in Scottish courts is at its lowest since current statistics began in 2008-09.

The latest civil justice statistics, published by Scotland's Chief Statistician today (Friday 18 March) show that there were 76,800 civil law cases raised in the financial year 2014-15, a drop of 42 per cent since 2008-09. However, the number of cases raised has seen little change since 2012-13, suggesting the downward trend may have come to an end. These statistics show the situation before the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 take effect.

There were 33,800 debt cases raised in 2014-15, 49 per cent lower than 2008-09. There are multiple routes for resolving disputes over debt and it is possible that non-court options are becoming increasingly favoured.

Despite the decline in debt cases they still make up nearly half of civil law cases in sheriff courts, followed by eviction cases, family disputes and personal injury claims.

Divorces continued their downward trend as a 6 per cent reduction on the previous year resulted in 9,000 divorces in 2014-15. Dissolutions of civil partnerships rose to 81 cases from 61 cases the year before.

The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey shows that around one in five adults experienced at least one civil law problem in the last three years. The most common type of issue was disputes with neighbours, followed by problems with faulty goods and services, and then money and debt.

Civil law cases raised at the Court of Session in 2014-15 were up 13 per cent compared to the previous year to 5,200. This increase was mainly due to a 224 per cent rise in clinical negligence cases.

The number of cases raised in sheriff courts, which accounted for 93 per cent of all civil law cases, was down 1 per cent at 71,600.

Tayside, Central and Fife sheriffdom heard the most sheriff court cases – 13,800 cases in 2014-15, a rise of 2 per cent. Meanwhile, the Glasgow and Strathkelvin sheriffdom saw a drop of 14 per cent to 11,500 cases.

Notes to editors

The full Civil Justice Statistics in Scotland 2014-15 release is available at
and statistics tables are published at

This release provides an overview of civil law court cases by theme, including trends in family disputes, debt, personal injury, damages, repossession and eviction cases since 2008-09, together with a breakdown of the number of cases that were found in favour of the pursuer or otherwise, and whether they were defended or undefended.

These statistics are used to inform a wide range of policy and decision making including, for example, modernising the civil courts. These statistics also inform the public about the business of Scottish courts.

The statistics released today were produced in accordance with professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.