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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

8. Outcome of legal problems



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Favourability of outcome of legal problems


In addition, respondents were asked about the extent to which the outcome of each legal problem was in their favour and were asked to choose between ‘mostly in my favour’, ‘somewhat in my favour’ and ‘mostly not in my favour’ (see Appendix A1, question A36). The results for favourability of outcome are displayed in Figure 8.2 and are very similar to those for satisfaction with outcome in Figure 8.1. Just as respondents reported being satisfied with the outcomes of approximately two-thirds of problems, they also reported outcomes that were favourable to some extent for two-thirds of problems (66.6%). This percentage of 66.6 comprises 47.8 per cent of problems where the outcome was reported to be ‘mostly’ in the respondent’s favour, and a further 18.8 per cent of problems where the outcome was reported to be ‘somewhat’ in the respondent’s favour.

Figure 8.2: Favourability of outcome of legal problems, Australia

Note: N=11 853 finalised problems. Data were missing for 475 problems.

As might be expected, there was an extremely strong significant relationship between achieving favourable outcomes for legal problems and being satisfied with those outcomes. Satisfaction with outcomes decreased as perceived favourability of outcomes decreased (see Table 8.1). For example, respondents reported outcomes that were mostly in their favour for 87.0 per cent of the problems where they were very satisfied with the outcomes, and they reported outcomes that were mostly not in their favour for 89.8 per cent of the problems where they were very dissatisfied with the outcomes.

Table 8.1: Favourability of outcome of legal problems by satisfaction with outcome, Australia

Favourability of outcome
Satisfaction with outcome
All finalised problems
Very satisfied Somewhat satisfied Somewhat dissatisfied
Very dissatisfied
%
%
%
%
%
Mostly favourable
87.0
46.6
9.8
6.1
47.9
Somewhat favourable
8.1
38.3
22.3
4.1
18.9
Mostly unfavourable
4.8
15.1
67.9
89.8
33.2
Total
%
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
N
4 193
3 589
1 877
2 103
11 762

Note: N=11 762 finalised problems. Data were missing for 565 problems. Somers’ d=0.61 (95% CI=0.60–0.62), SE=0.01, p=0.000, outcome variable is satisfaction with outcome.

The rest of this chapter examines whether achieving favourable outcomes for legal problems is related to various problem and demographic characteristics. In each case, legal problems with ‘favourable’ outcomes (i.e. outcomes reported as being ‘mostly’ or ‘somewhat’ in the respondent’s favour) are compared to legal problems with ‘unfavourable’ outcomes (i.e. outcomes reported as ‘mostly not’ in the respondent’s favour).(2)

The relationship between the favourability of the outcomes achieved for legal problems and the severity of legal problems is displayed in Figure 8.3. This relationship was significant, with problems of substantial impact being more likely than problems of minor impact to result in unfavourable outcomes (37.8% versus 30.6%).

Figure 8.3: Favourability of outcome of legal problems by problem severity, Australia

Note: N=11 853 finalised problems. Data were missing for 475 problems. x2=65.99, F1,10 320=40.89, p=0.000.

The relationship between the favourability of the outcomes achieved for legal problems and the number of adverse consequences caused by these legal problems is displayed in Table 8.2. This relationship was significant, with the likelihood of favourable outcomes decreasing as the number of adverse consequences caused by legal problems increased. For example, 70.5 per cent of the problems without adverse consequences had favourable outcomes compared to 57.9 per cent of the problems with four or more adverse consequences.

Table 8.2: Favourability of outcome of legal problems by number of adverse consequences of legal problems, Australia

Favourability of outcome
Number of adverse consequences per problem
All finalised problems
0
1
2
3
4+
%
%
%
%
%
%
Favourable
70.5
61.5
61.2
54.0
57.9
66.6
Unfavourable
29.5
38.5
38.8
46.0
42.1
33.4
Total
%
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
N
7 342
2 719
1 007
515
264
11 847

Note: N=11 847 finalised problems. Data were missing for 480 problems. Somers’ d=0.11 (95% CI=0.09–0.14), SE=0.01, p=0.000, outcome variable is favourability of outcome.

The relationship between achieving a favourable outcome for a legal problem and the total number of legal problems experienced by the respondent during the 12-month reference period was also examined (see Table 8.3). This relationship was weak but significant, with the likelihood of achieving a favourable outcome decreasing as the number of legal problems experienced by the respondent increased. For example, 69.6 per cent of all problems experienced by respondents who had only one or two problems resulted in favourable outcomes compared to 61.9 per cent of all problems experienced by respondents who had six or more problems.

Table 8.3: Favourability of outcome of legal problems by number of legal problems per respondent, Australia

Favourability of outcome Number of problems per respondent All finalised problems
1–2
3–5
6+
%
%
%
%
Favourable
69.6
67.2
61.9
66.6
Unfavourable
30.4
32.8
38.1
33.4
Total
%
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
N
4 834
3 528
3 491
11 853

Note: N=11 853 finalised problems. Data were missing for 475 problems. Somers’ d=0.08 (95% CI=0.05–0.10), SE=0.01, p=0.000, outcome variable is favourability of outcome.

There was a significant relationship between achieving favourable outcomes for legal problems and the manner in which the problems were finalised, as shown in Table 8.4. This significant relationship largely reflected a considerably higher rate of unfavourable outcomes for legal problems that were finalised by the respondent deciding not to pursue the matter further than for legal problems finalised by other means (68.4% versus 33.4% on average).

Table 8.4: Favourability of outcome of legal problems by manner of finalisation of legal problems, Australia

Manner of finalisationa
Favourability of outcome
Total
Favourable
Unfavourable
%
%
%
N
Court or tribunal
74.1
25.9
100.0
402
Dispute resolution or complaint-handling bodyb
81.9
18.1
100.0
399
Another agency
80.8
19.2
100.0
1 746
Lawyer’s or someone else’s helpc
83.4
16.6
100.0
757
Agreement with other side
84.3
15.7
100.0
3 547
Other side didn’t pursue further
81.4
18.6
100.0
886
Respondent didn’t pursue further
31.6
68.4
100.0
3 424
Other
62.5
37.5
100.0
518
All finalised problems
66.6
33.4
100.0
11 679

a See Table 7.3 for further details on manners of finalisation. Apart from the exceptions noted below, manners of finalisation are identical to those in Table 7.3.
b Combines the following categories from Table 7.3: ‘dispute resolution’ and ‘complaint-handling body’.
c Combines the following categories from Table 7.3: ‘lawyer’s help’ and ‘someone else’s help’.
Note: N=11 679 finalised problems. Data were missing for 648 problems. x2=2839.26, F7,72 149=252.36, p=0.000.


2. Given the very strong similarity between favourability of outcome and satisfaction with outcome, analyses on the relationships between satisfaction with outcome and various problem and demographic variables are not reported.

  


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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