SEOUL, Sept. 19 (Korea Bizwire) – The number of civil and family lawsuits and criminal cases filed last year hit an 18-year high not seen since the Korean financial Crisis in 1998.
According to data released on Monday by the administrative department at the Supreme Court of Korea, the number of lawsuits filed in 2016 alone amounted to over 6.7 million cases, up 6.1 percent from 2015.
It’s the highest figure since the country was hit with a major financial crisis caused by a severe foreign exchange shortage in the late 1990s. In 1998, the year after the crisis broke, nearly 7 million lawsuits were filed in the country.
The annual figure for lawsuits dropped to around 5 million in the early 2000s before rising steadily to reach 6 million in 2007 and continuing the upward trend until recently.
It has been estimated that around 18,486 brand new cases are filed every day in South Korea.
“It seems that the role played by courts as an institution that settles disputes is becoming more and more important,” a court official said in explaining the growing number of lawsuits in the country.
Among the legal cases filed last year, civil lawsuits amounted to approximately 4.73 million cases, accounting for over 70 percent, while legal battles between family members stood at 160,634, accounting for 2.4 percent.
In the meantime, criminal cases accounted for 25.4 percent.
The data also revealed that the prosecution issued arrest warrants in 81.8 percent of the criminal cases from last year, with the figure rising from the mid to high-seventies since 2010.
The Supreme Court of Korea also said that improvements were made last year as courts calculated compensation for victims in cases such as the toxic humidifier disinfectant scandal in a more realistic manner, and created a department dedicated to solving civil disputes at Seoul Central District Court to speed up the litigation process.
In addition, reforms to the civil procedure code introduced last year saw a witness interrogation take place via a video feed between Seoul and Jeju Island, while some court-appointed attorneys were able to defend their clients throughout the legal process.
Since 1976, the Supreme Court of Korea has released a yearbook consisting of statistics and data in detail regarding legal cases that were dealt with at the court, which can be downloaded from www.scout.go.kr.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)