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Research Report: Justice made to measure: NSW legal needs survey in disadvantaged areas
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Justice made to measure: NSW legal needs survey in disadvantaged areas  ( 2006 )  Cite this report

Ch 7. The outcome of legal events

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Resolution of legal events

Participants who reported experiencing legal events in the 12 months prior to the survey were asked whether their three most recent events had been resolved. As noted in the introduction, the concept of the resolution of a legal event is to some extent subjective and has been measured inconsistently across different studies. In the present survey, participants’ perceptions about the resolution of their legal events were measured without any explicit definition of resolution being provided. The advantage of this approach is that it allows participants to report whether or not they feel that a given legal event has concluded and is no longer an issue for them. Participants were asked to choose between the following alternatives:
  • ‘I resolved it myself’
  • ‘it was resolved through legal proceedings in court or tribunal’
  • ‘it was resolved in some other way’
  • ‘it is in the process of being resolved’
  • ‘it has not been resolved yet’ (see question 76, Appendix A).

Note that the last category, pertaining to events perceived as unresolved, could have included events where no action was taken towards resolution, events where attempts at resolution were abandoned for whatever reason (e.g. due to legal advice, cost, difficulty) and events that were in fact concluded in some way but were not resolved in the respondent’s favour.

Figure 7.1 presents participants’ perceptions about whether the legal events they reported experiencing in the reference period had been resolved and, if resolved, the method of resolution. Participants reported that 60.6 per cent or 1741 of the 2873 legal events had been resolved. Forty-four per cent of the 2873 events had been resolved by the participant, 4.8 per cent had been resolved through legal proceedings in a court or tribunal, and 11.5 per cent had been resolved some other way. A further 11.1 per cent of legal events were in the process of being resolved and the remaining 28.3 per cent had not been resolved at the time of the survey.

Figure 7.1: Resolution status and method of resolution of legal events, all six LGAs, 2003

Notes: N=2873 events. Information on resolution of legal events was missing for 151 of the 3024 events constituting participants’ three most recent events.


Coumarelos, C, Wei , Z & Zhou, AH 2006, Justice made to measure: NSW legal needs survey in disadvantaged areas, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Sydney