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Research Report: Legal Australia-Wide Survey: Legal need in Australia
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Legal Australia-Wide Survey: Legal need in Australia  ( 2012 )  Cite this report

7. Finalisation of legal problems



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Finalisation status of legal problems


Respondents were asked whether their legal problems had been finalised — that is, whether each of these problems was ‘now over’ or ‘still ongoing’ (see Appendix A1, question A34). This information was provided for 19 305 legal problems. As Figure 7.1 shows, respondents reported that 63.9 per cent or 12 327 of these problems had been finalised, while 33.3 per cent of the problems were still ongoing at the time of interview. For the remaining 2.8 per cent of legal problems, respondents were ‘unsure’ whether the problem had concluded. Given that respondents could not definitively state that these 2.8 per cent of problems were finalised, in all subsequent analyses these problems were treated as being unfinalised and were combined with the ‘ongoing’ category.

Figure 7.1: Finalisation status of legal problems, Australia

Note: N=19 305 problems. Data were missing for 82 problems.

The finalisation status of legal problems at the time of interview was significantly related to problem severity (see Figure 7.2). Problems of substantial impact had lower finalisation rates than problems of minor impact (51.8% versus 74.4%). Problems were also significantly less likely to be finalised as the number of different types of adverse consequences caused by the problems increased (see Table 7.1). Whereas 72.4 per cent of the problems without adverse consequences had been finalised at the time of interview, only 32.4 per cent of the problems resulting in at least four different types of adverse consequences had been finalised.

Figure 7.2: Finalisation status of legal problems by problem severity, Australia

Note: N=19 305 problems. Data were missing for 82 problems. x2=1072.11, F1,10 320=631.31, p=0.000.


Table 7.1: Finalisation status of legal problems by number of adverse consequences of legal problems, Australia

Finalisation status
Number of adverse consequences per problem
All problems
0
1
2
3
4+
%
%
%
%
%
%
Finalised
72.4
61.8
52.5
43.1
32.4
64.2
Ongoing
27.6
38.2
47.5
56.9
67.6
35.8
Total
%
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
N
10 527
4 610
1 990
1 234
828
19 189

Note: N=19 189 problems. Data were missing for 199 problems. Somers’ d=0.24 (95% CI=0.22–0.26), SE=0.01, p=0.000, outcome variable is finalisation status.

An analysis was also made of whether the finalisation status of any given legal problem at the time of interview was related to the total number of problems experienced by the respondent over the reference period (see Table 7.2). This relationship was significant, with the likelihood of finalisation for any given legal problem tending to decrease as the number of legal problems experienced by the respondent increased. For example, 69.9 per cent of all problems experienced by respondents who reported experiencing only one or two problems during the reference period were finalised compared to 56.3 per cent of all problems experienced by respondents who reported experiencing at least six problems during the reference period.

Table 7.2: Finalisation status of legal problems by number of legal problems per respondent, Australia

Finalisation status
Number of problems per respondent
All problems
1–2
3–5
6+
%
%
%
%
Finalised
69.9
64.7
56.3
63.9
Ongoing
30.1
35.3
43.7
36.1
Total
%
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
N
7 264
5 659
6 382
19 305

Note: N=19 305 problems. Data were missing for 82 problems. Somers’ d=0.13 (95% CI=0.11–0.15), SE=0.01, p=0.000, outcome variable is finalisation status.


  


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Coumarelos, C, Macourt, D, People, J, MacDonald, HM, Wei, Z, Iriana, R & Ramsey, S 2012, Legal Australia-Wide Survey: legal need in Australia, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Sydney