The number of civil cases raised in Scottish courts fell again in 2014-15, but the downward trend appears to be bottoming out, according to the latest official figures.
Civil Justice Statistics in Scotland 2014-15 reveals that there were 76,800 cases raised in the financial year 2014-15, a drop of 42% since the data were first collected in 2008-09. However, the number of cases raised has seen little change since 2012-13.
These statistics cover the last full year before the new court structures and reallocation of court business introduced by the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 take effect. The bulletin records that difficulties in collecting accurate data make comparisons with the years before 2008-09 unreliable.
The trend is led by a 49% decline since 2008-09, to 33,800, in the number of debt cases raised. It is possible that non-court options for resolving debt issues are becoming increasingly favoured.
Debt cases still make up nearly half the civil cases in the sheriff courts, followed by eviction cases, family disputes and personal injury claims.
Divorces continued their downward trend, with a 6% reduction on the previous year 9,000, along with 81 dissolutions of civil partnerships (up from 61). Personal injuries cases rose 11%, but this figure fluctuates considerably from year to year.
The total number of sheriff court actions, accounting for 93% of all civil law cases, was down 1% at 71,600. Last year the highest number of cases were taken not in Glasgow, which saw a 14% drop to 11,500, but in Tayside, Central & Fife, which rose 2% to 13,800.
Civil law cases raised at the Court of Session in 2014-15 were up 13% compared to the previous year, to 5,200. This was mainly due to a 224% per cent rise in clinical negligence cases, including cases arising from mesh implants and breast implants.
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.