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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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Summary: the outcome of legal events


This chapter examined the outcome of legal events, including whether or not they were resolved, how they were resolved and the factors associated with resolution. The main findings were as follows.

Of 2873 legal events that occurred in the 12 months prior to the survey,10 participants reported that 1741 or 60.6 per cent had been resolved at the time of the survey, 11.1 per cent were in the process of being resolved and the remaining 28.3 per cent had not been resolved.

The most common method of resolution reported for the 1741 resolved events involved the participant resolving the event on his or her own (1274 events). Only 138 events were resolved through legal proceedings in a court or tribunal.

The logistic regression analysis revealed that the following variables were significant independent predictors of resolution status: age, disability status, legal event group, the recency of the event and the action taken in response to the event. The odds of events being resolved were:

  • lower for persons with a chronic illness or disability compared with other persons
  • lower than average for business, employment, government, health and family events, but higher than average for accident/injury and wills/estates events
  • higher for events that had occurred earlier rather than more recently
  • lower for events where participants took no action, but higher for events handled by participants on their own, when compared with events where participants sought help.11


The 2431 participants reported a total of 5776 events in the 12 months prior to the survey. However, information on resolution was sought in relation to participants three most recent events, that is, in relation to 3024 events. Valid information on resolution was obtained in relation to 2873 of these 3024 events.
Although age was a significant predictor overall, none of the comparisons tested were significant. These comparisons contrasted the oldest age group (65 years or over) with each other age group. The youngest age group had the highest resolution rate (71.1%), while the 55 to 64 year group had the lowest resolution rate (54.0%). The regression did not test this comparison. The oldest age group had the second highest resolution rate (67.2%) and the 45 to 54 year age group had the second lowest resolution rate (56.0%).

10  The 2431 participants reported a total of 5776 events in the 12 months prior to the survey. However, information on resolution was sought in relation to participants three most recent events, that is, in relation to 3024 events. Valid information on resolution was obtained in relation to 2873 of these 3024 events.
11  Although age was a significant predictor overall, none of the comparisons tested were significant. These comparisons contrasted the oldest age group (65 years or over) with each other age group. The youngest age group had the highest resolution rate (71.1%), while the 55 to 64 year group had the lowest resolution rate (54.0%). The regression did not test this comparison. The oldest age group had the second highest resolution rate (67.2%) and the 45 to 54 year age group had the second lowest resolution rate (56.0%).


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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