Debt cases nearly halve in past five years

Written by Alan Robertson on 21 July 2015 in News

Debt cases totalled 35,388 in 2013-14, 46 per cent lower than in 2008-09

The number of debt cases coming before Scottish courts has almost halved in the past five years, new figures show.

Latest civil justice statistics published by Scotland’s chief statistician reveal 35,388 debt cases were raised in civil courts in 2013-14.

Over three quarters of these were small claims with the vast majority raised in sheriff courts. Just three cases were initiated in the Court of Session, the highest civil court in Scotland.


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Though only down marginally on the previous year, debt cases have now dropped for a fifth year running, 46 per cent lower than in 2008-09.

Officials suggest one possible reason for the sharp decrease is that creditors – in light of the economic downturn - feel there is “little to gain” from pursing a court action where there is little chance of recovering what is owed.

Latest survey data shows nearly a quarter of the adult population has experienced at least one civil law problem in the last three years.

The overall number of civil law cases initiated in Scottish courts is also at its lowest in five years, with 77,345 in 2013-14.

The total number of divorces granted in 2013-14 was 9,619, down one per cent on the previous year. Civil partnership dissolutions granted dropped from 67 to 61 over the 12 month-period.

Civil law cases raised at the Court of Session in 2013-14 were down two per cent compared to the previous year to 4,834.

However, the number of cases raised in sheriff courts, which account for 94 per cent of civil law cases, increased for the first time in five years, albeit by just one.

Nearly a third of personal injury cases were raised at the Court of Session where they made up over three quarters of the cases in the General Department.

An increase in the value of cases which can be heard in sheriff courts – set to come into force this September under the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 - is expected to see a large proportion of business transferred from the Court of Session to a newly-created specialist personal injury court.

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