Civil Justice Statistics in Scotland 2015-16
An Official Statistics Publication for Scotland.
The latest civil justice statistics, published by Scotland’s Chief Statistician today (Tuesday 28 March), show that 77,721 civil law cases were initiated across the Court of Session, sheriff courts and the newly established Sheriff Personal Injury Court in 2015-16 (excluding summary applications). This is a rise of 1% from the previous year but represents a decrease of 41% since the beginning of the statistical time series in 2008-09. The number of cases initiated in 2015-16 was similar to the previous three years, in contrast to the downward trend observed over the years prior to that.
Compared to the previous year, the number of cases initiated in the Court of Session decreased by 16%. This overall decrease was driven by a 30% decrease in the number of personal injury cases initiated in the Court of Session, 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%.
The number of family cases initiated has been decreasing since 2008-09 (by 13%). Divorce / dissolution cases and parental responsibilities and rights cases together accounted for 95% of family cases in 2015-16.
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.
The number of personal injury cases initiated in the civil courts was 5% lower than in 2014-15, but the number of personal injury cases has fluctuated markedly since 2008-09. Cases resulting from a road traffic accident made up the majority of personal injury cases (56% in 2015-16).
The number of damages cases initiated decreased by 2% compared to the previous year. This continues a long-term downward trend (50% decrease since 2008-09).
There was a 43% drop in initiated cases of repossession following a breach of a mortgage or loan secured on a property, compared to 2014-15. This continues a long-term downward trend (82% decrease since 2008-09).
Initiated cases involving eviction of tenants from a rented property rose in 2015-16 for the third year in a row, but are still 26% lower than in 2008-09.
The full Civil Justice Statistics in Scotland 2015-16 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.