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Publication - Report

The Court Fees (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Scotland) Order 2016 - equality impact assessment record

Published: 18 Nov 2016
Part of:
Law and order
ISBN:
9781786525963

Provides a summary of the impact of the Court Fees (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Scotland) Order 2016 on court users in relation to possible discrimination.

18 page PDF

239.1kB

18 page PDF

239.1kB

Contents
The Court Fees (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Scotland) Order 2016 - equality impact assessment record
Stage 2: Data and evidence gathering, involvement and consultation

18 page PDF

239.1kB

Stage 2: Data and evidence gathering, involvement and consultation

Characteristic

Evidence gathered and strength/quality of evidence

Source

Gaps identified and action taken

Age

Neither the Scottish Government nor the SCTS collect specific information about the age profile of people who make use of the civil courts. However, results from the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey ( SCJS) suggest that 21% of adults said that they had experienced at least one civil law problem in the last three years. The SCJS gives a breakdown of these adults experiencing a civil law problem by age band: 16-24 (18%), 25-44 (29%), 45-59 (24%), and 60+(11%). This is a reflection of the numbers in each age band taking such action.

In addition, there are a significant number of cases proceeding through the civil courts each year involving families and children, giving some insight into the number of children which might be affected by civil law issues.

Age evidence

The following statistics are from the Scottish Government Civil Justice Statistics in Scotland, 2014-15 and are the most recent available. They give a breakdown for the sheriff courts and the Court of Session.

Sheriff courts

  • there were 13,457 ordinary cause family procedure cases initiated, the majority (75.6%) of which were for divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership;
  • over three-quarters (78.5%) of the remaining family cases related to parental responsibilities and rights, with 2,582 such cases initiated. Within this category, the 1,281 contact cases were the most common, with residence and other parental responsibilities and rights making up most of the remainder;
  • there were 3,276 applications for a referral to the sheriff where the result of a Children's Hearing is not understood or denied by the child or relevant person involved; and there were 425 Adoption Petitions and 346 applications for Permanence Orders with Authority to Adopt.

Court of Session

  • in 2014-15 there were 148 family cases initiated in the General Department of the Court of Session. Of those, 132 related to divorce and dissolution of a civil partnership.

Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2014-15 (section 9.3, p.93) is the main section relating to civil law in the main findings report) [5]

The Scottish Government Civil Justice Statistics in Scotland, 2014-15 [6]

The Scottish Government Civil Justice Statistics in Scotland, 2014-15

Persons of any age can be affected by civil law issues and people of all ages benefit either directly or indirectly from efficient and fair access to the civil courts.

No specific gaps have been identified.

Disability

The Scottish Household Survey 2014 [7] shows that about one-third (39%) of households in Scotland contain at least one person with a physical or mental health condition or illness lasting or expected to last 12 months or more. This figure covers all members of the household including children. As would be expected, households comprised of older people are more likely to contain someone with a long-term condition (59% of 'single pensioner' households and 57% of 'older smaller' households) compared to other types of households.

The Scottish Government does not hold information on the proportion of people involved in civil litigation who have disabilities. The Scottish Court and Tribunals Service ( SCTS) Court User Satisfaction Survey 2015 [8] , indicated that only 2% of court users self-reported as having a long-term illness or disability. However, prevalence of civil legal problems and disputes is higher for disabled people at 30% as opposed to 21% in the general population. In addition, only 39% of disabled people had solved their most important/only problem whereas 52% without a disability had succeeded in resolving their most important/only problem.

The report "Is Scotland Fairer" [9] produced by the Equality and Human Rights Commission in 2015 stated that "some groups - including children, disabled people and ethnic minorities - were significantly more likely to live in relative poverty AHC [after housing costs] than others". 'Relative poverty' was defined as "households who are living on less than 60% of the median income for Scotland, after housing costs".

An effective and accessible civil justice system benefits, either directly or indirectly, all sections of society.

Scottish Household Survey 2014

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service Court User Satisfaction Survey 2015

Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2014-15

In 2012, the Welfare Reform Act and the Welfare Reform (Further Provision) (Scotland) Act 2012 gave the Scottish Ministers powers to manage some of the changes arising out of the UK Government's legislative changes, such as preserving Scots' entitlements to "passported benefits" such as legal aid and court fee exemptions.

UK benefits are widely used in Scotland to inform decisions about exemptions from court fees and to passport people onto eligibility for free legal aid. For example, if a person is in receipt of income support then they are automatically eligible to be exempt from paying court fees.

The introduction of Universal Credit - the key feature of the UK Government's welfare reform - will see the abolition of all the UK benefits currently used to passport people onto other Scottish benefits.

Universal Credit is a new single benefit will replace a range of existing means-tested benefits and tax credits for working age people and bring together different forms of income-related support to provide a simple, integrated, benefit for people in or out of work. It will consist of a basic personal amount with additional amounts dependent on personal circumstances.

Universal Credit started in one area in the North of England on 29 April 2013 and is being rolled out gradually to the rest of the United Kingdom and it is expected that Universal Credit will cover all benefit claims by 2021.

Scottish Ministers recognise the importance of entitlements for those persons receiving benefits such as Court Fee exemptions and are seeking to maintain similar access to them under the new arrangements. It is not our policy intention to restrict access by narrowing the eligibility criteria.

Many local services in Scotland including both Court Fee exemptions and legal aid are affected by the forthcoming changes to "passporting" benefits and the Scottish Government is considering its options in the longer term for determining eligibility for help and support.

Sex

The SCJS indicates that 21% of males and 21% of females had experienced at least one civil law problem in the last three years.

The statistics relating to the sex of those experiencing a civil law problem suggest that gender is not an issue.

Gender reassignment

The Scottish Government does not hold this information in relation to the proposals.

Although there is no information available on either of these categories, all types of person can be affected by problems which would require resolution in the courts. It may be the case that people in these categories may be more likely to face the type of discrimination that would require litigation.

Sexual orientation

The Scottish Government does not hold this information in relation to the proposals.

Race

Respondents to the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service 2015 Court User Satisfaction Survey identified their ethnicity as below:

Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service 2015 Court User Satisfaction Survey

Persons of any race or ethnicity can be affected by civil law issues and, similarly, benefit either directly or indirectly from efficient and fair access to the civil courts.

No specific groups have been identified. However, the adoption of any new court structures arising from the forthcoming programme of civil courts reform may result in a further review of fee levels. A further equality impact assessment will be completed as part of any fee review.

Ethnicity of Respondents

Number

%

White

Scottish

2401

85

Other British

259

9

Irish

14

<1

Gypsy/ Traveller

-

-

Polish

46

2

Other

26

1

Mixed or Multiple Ethnic Groups

Any mixed or multiple ethnic groups

2

<1

Asian, Asian Scottish or Asian British

Pakistani, Pakistani Scottish/British

26

1

Indian, Indian Scottish/British

4

<1

Bangladeshi, Bangladeshi Scottish/British

3

<1

Chinese, Chinese Scottish/British

4

<1

Other

3

<1

African

African, African Scottish/British

4

<1

Caribbean or Black

Caribbean, Caribbean Scottish/British

1

<1

Black, Black Scottish/British

1

<1

Other Ethnic Group

Arab

1

<1

Other

2

<1

Not Disclosed

44

2

Total

2,841

100

Religion or belief

The Scottish Government is not aware of any specific information on the faith or religious belief of users in relation to the proposals.

Although there is no information available on this category, all types of person can be affected by problems which would require resolution in the courts.


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