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KICJ Research Reports

Legal needs survey 사진
Legal needs survey

Abstract

Overview


1. Background


• Access to legal help was not equal for all people, nor was the ability to resolve legal issues fairly and exercise one's rights.

• In general, groups lacking socioeconomic resources lacked the ability to solve problems due to a lack of available legal resources. And this situation can cause another problem.

2. Needs of Research


• The various problems an individual experiences and the possibilities for solving them have a significant impact on an individual's life. Legal needs arise when citizens or businesses request support from legal services to solve a problem.


•  The legal needs survey is a research that establishes an empirical basis for understanding how the law and institutional systems affect how people's daily problems arise, experience, and solve problems.

•  Legal needs surveys provide information about the entire judicial system and judicial problem solving, providing people with an empirical basis for understanding how judicial problems arise and their impact on numerous fields.

3. Purpose of Research


•  This study aims to investigate the identification and resolution of specific problems or disputes faced by individuals in South Korea, organized into three main sections.


- The initial segment delves into legal awareness, exploring individuals' perceptions of the law, their sources of legal information, and their interactions with the legal system.


- The second section, derived from the OECD's Legal Needs Survey, focuses on the types of problems or disputes prent in Korean society.


- The third and final section, the problem-solving process, uates respondents' subjective assessments of encountered problems, including specifics, severity levels, and reasons.


• The questionnaire predominantly covers general aspects of legal awareness, experiences with eight problem types, problem identification, severity assessment, sources of assistance, the problem-solving process, and problem outcomes.


  General Awareness of the Law


• In examining respondents' perceptions of the law, a diverse range of viewpoints emerges, encompassing both positive and negative stances.


- Concerning their sentiments about the law, 25.1% of respondents view it as democratic, while 18.5% consider it biased.


- Notably, positive responses slightly outnumber negative ones.


•  There are both positive and negative responses regarding the level of legal compliance.


- Regarding compliance with the law, 59.2% of respondents affirm that the law is generally adhered to.


- Within the subset expressing non-compliance, 34.9% attribute it to the perceived harm of abiding by the law.


- When queried about strategies to prevent victimization in social life, 33.9% advocate for a robust understanding of the law.



  • Notably, all respondents predominantly rely on ‘Internet portal sites’ for legal information and knowledge.



- However, subgroups such as ‘60+’, ‘divorced/separated’, ‘widowed’, ‘day laborer/part-time worker’, and ‘average monthly income less than 2 million won’ exhibit a greater reliance on ‘TV.’


  • At the societal level, legal education registers at 2.45, while trust in the legal system is notably higher at 2.71.


  • Trust in legal resolution and the perceived ability of Koreans to handle legal issues stand at 2.68 and 2.66, respectively.


- On a personal level, both legal knowledge and trust garner high mean scores above 2.6. 


• Noteworthy distinctions include a modest rating for legal fairness at 2.61 and a robust endorsement for trust in professional help at 2.72.


• Exploring experiences with the legal system, 37.0% have sought legal counseling from administrative agencies or consumer protection organizations, 21.8% have utilized mediation/arbitration/conciliation/negotiation services from administrative or public institutions, and 9.8% have resorted to court trials for legal matters.


• In conclusion, disparities in awareness of the law, compliance levels, information sources, knowledge, and trust in the law are evident across occupational, urban size, and educational subgroups.


  Legal Problem Experience


1. Identification of Legal Problems/Disputes


• The three primary categories of legal problem experiences are as follows: “consumer” (45.3%), “safety” (26.6%), and “community and natural environment” (13.5%). Conversely, the three least encountered categories include “administration and commerce” (6.1%), “family” (4.6%), and “public sector” (3.8%).


• Regarding the frequency of experienced problems, the “consumer” category exhibits the highest mean (1.38), while the “public sector” category shows the lowest mean (1.1).


2. Results of Legal Problem/Dispute Experience by Respondent Characteristics


• Although the top categories of experience were similar across respondent characteristics, variations occurred in categories with lower percentages of experience.


- Across age groups, “consumer” and “safety” problems consistently ranked first and second. For respondents in their 20s, “employment and labor” problems ranked third, while for those in their 40s, “finance and insurance” problems held the third position. The least encountered problems varied among age groups.


- By marital status, categories such as ‘consumer’, ‘safety’, and ‘community and natural environment’ generally held high rankings. However, for respondents who were never married, “employment and labor” problems ranked third. For never married or married respondents, “family” problems were the least experienced, while for divorced or separated respondents, “family” problems were the most frequently encountered, and “public sector” problems were the least experienced. For widowed respondents, employment and labor” was the least experienced category.


- According to job status, “consumer”, “safety”, and “community and environment” were the top three legal problems for regular workers, temporary workers, and the self-employed. Conversely, for day laborers or part-time respondents, the ranking was “safety”, “community”, and then “consumer.” The least encountered legal problems varied among job statuses.


- Based on monthly income, the top three categories (“consumer”, “safety”, “community and environment”) remained consistent for all income groups, while the bottom categories differed. “Employment and labor” was the least experienced legal problem for the group with a monthly income of less than 1 million won. “Public sector” was the least experienced for the groups with monthly incomes of 1 million to 2 million won, 2 million to 3 million won, 3 million to 4 million won, and more than 7 million won. “Family” was the least experienced legal problem for the groups with monthly incomes of 4 to 5 million won, 5 to 6 million won, and 6 to 7 million won.


• When comparing the frequency of problems/disputes experienced by respondent characteristics, statistically significant differences between groups were found in city size, education level, and job status.


- By city size, Seoul and metropolitan cities exhibited the highest mean (1.27), while small and medium-sized cities had the lowest mean (1.15).


- According to educational level, respondents who graduated from community college (two or three years of university) had the highest mean (1.26), while respondents who graduated from university or graduate school had the lowest average (1.18).


- By job status, temporary workers had the highest mean (1.39), and regular workers had the lowest mean (1.19).



Process of Legal problems


1. Severity of Legal Problems


• Within the spectrum of legal problems encountered by respondents, the most consequential problems within each overarching category are delineated as follows:


- Employment and labor : wages (36.1%), family : divorce (35.8%), safety : vehicle accidents (44.2%), Public sector : health insurance (37.5%), administrative and commerce : property taxes (18.6%), finance and insurance : loans (15.5%), consumer : difficulties with exchanges, cancellations, refunds, and compensation (27.8%), and land and housing : lease agreement (17.6%).


- On a scale of 1-10, the severity of the most serious problem (ranked first) was: domestic violence 8.82 (family), other (finance and insurance) 8.44, birth and care of children 7.58 (family), debt (finance and insurance) 7.55, and management (community and natural environment problems) 7.51.


• The causes of the most serious legal problems were: lack of experience/ knowledge/education(38.5%, carelessness/mistakes of the other party(37.9%), carelessness/mistakes of my own(28.5%), bad luck(25.5%), and deliberate actions of the other party(24.3%).


- Respondents discern that the origins of legal issues primarily emanate from personal or fortuitous factors, such as the actions of the respondent, the counterparty, or fortuitous events. In contrast, attributions to social structural or institutional causes are less prent in their recognition.


• The primary confidant with whom respondents engage in discussions about legal matters is notably a family member, accounting for 35.2% of respondents. Subsequently, 25.8% opt for a friend or relative, while 16.5% report never having discussed legal matters with anyone. Other avenues of discussion include a colleague or former colleague at 13.9%, a community member at 3.3%, a neighbor at 3.0%, and other sources at 2.3%.


2. Sources of help with legal issues


• Media Utilized for Resolving or Enhancing Understanding of Legal Problems:


- Internet portal sites 46.8%, none 31.8%, TV 11.7%, social media 3.8%, YouTube 3.7%, newspapers 1.2%


• The individuals or entities from whom respondents sought information and advice encompassed:


- Family, friends, and acquaintances: 70.4%, None: 22.3%, Legal professionals, professional counselors, counseling services, counseling centers: 16.0%, Courts, dispute resolution bodies: 8.7%, Other sources: 8.1%.


• Reasons for Abstaining from Seeking Advice:


- Belief in not needing advice: 33.1%, Resolution of the problem without requiring advice: 23.5%, Concerns regarding the time it would consume: 12.8%, Perception that the problem was not significant enough: 12.7%, Apprehension about the stress involved: 11.6%, Belief that seeking advice would not impact the outcome: 8.3%.


• Experience in Taking Action on Legal Issues:


- Through formal institutions: 91.4%, By going to court: 90.0%, Through formal mediation: 89.6%, By using the organization/company's formal appeals process: 89.2%, By reporting to law enforcement: 86.1%.


• Examining the initiator of problem behavior by experience, the highest response for all problem behaviors was attributed to “You (respondent).”


• Regarding the First Action Taken:


- Reported to law enforcement: 36.6%, Went to court: 21.3%. Used the organization/company's formal appeals process: 19.8%, Participated in formal mediation: 12.9%, Took action through formal institutions: 9.5%


3. Initiation and Resolution of Legal problems


• The average duration from the commencement of a legal problem to its conclusion was 10.45 months if abandoned and 4.6 months if resolved.


• The most prent methods for concluding a legal problem were:


- Agreement between the parties involved: 40.9%, Natural resolution: 20.5%, Mediation, conciliation, or arbitration: 10.1%, The other party independently adhering to your desired outcome: 10.1%, A court decision: 5.5%, 


• Individuals tended to discontinue legal problems for various reasons, such as emotional exhaustion or stress (51.0%), imminent time constraints (13.5%), uncertainty about resolution methods (13.3%), potential damage to the relationship with the other party (11.9%), or financial impracticality (9.2%).


• Those who incurred expenses to address a legal problem were predominantly for phone calls and correspondence (27.2%), evidence collection (including witness reimbursement) (10.7%), travel (8.9%), court mediation or other administrative costs (6.7%), and legal services or advice (6.4%).


• Regarding the financial aspects of resolving the problem, respondents were more likely to seek financial assistance for:


- Phone calls and correspondence: 37.6%, Court mediation or other administrative costs: 33.7%, Information or evidence gathering (including witness reimbursement): 32.2%, Legal services and advice: 30.8%, Loss of business or salary due to time off work: 20.8%


4. Perceptions of the outcome of the legal problem


 Most respondents reported that the outcome of their legal matter was equitable (78.7%)


- The reasons for not receiving a fair outcome were economic level (37.7%), age (32.0%), occupation (25.5%), rank or position (15.6%), and education (13.0%).


 The majority of respondents believe that the outcome of a legal problem was fair (82.7%)


• Respondents reported experiencing high levels of stress (73.9%), psychological issues (41.3%), financial loss (22.4%), and property damage (15%) as a result of legal problem


Focus Group Interview


 Disabled People


- Many people experience legal problems in their daily lives, but complain of difficulty accessing legal services.


- They had some experience with free services, but did not receive the help they expected.


- They had difficulties using legal advisory services due to the search process and complicated procedures.


- They lacked information about systems that could provide help when legal problems arose, and found it difficult to find sources of help.


- In particular, there were many cases where it was difficult for people, including visually impaired people, to access internet services.


• Low-income Seniors


- Many people interviewed believed that the law was complex and difficult to understand, and felt helpless when problems related to the law arose. 


- They had a strong perception that those who apply the law are biased in their application. In particular, people with money are given more benefits, and those without money are considered ignored. 


- They tend to avoid legal disputes. Trying to solve legal problems takes a lot of time and money, and people without money feel powerless to deal with the law.


- Money and power play a big role in resolving legal issues, which they believe creates an unfair situation. 


- Even if they used legal services, they often did not get the results they wanted or were unable to use them because the costs were too high. 


- In the process of using legal services, there were cases where they did not obtain fair results due to difficult terms and procedures, and the absence of experts.


• Foreign Residents


- They believe that the law should be applied equally to everyone, but they believe that foreigners may experience difficulties because they do not understand the law.


- Foreigners lacked education on Korean law, and many of their acquaintances also lacked knowledge of the law.


- Because they lack the ability to read and understand text, it was difficult for them to access services with difficult terms, such as Internet legal information.


- They were often ignorant of the channels through which they could receive legal help.


- They pointed out the need to provide guidance and support to foreigners from the immigration stage and the need for legal education.


• Young People under 30s


- They believed that the law is not well followed in our society, and many of the people who participated in the interviews believed that they lacked the ability to handle legal issues themselves when a legal problem arose. 


- Among the problems experienced by young people who participated in the interviews, there were experiences such as being stressed due to economic problems or not being able to deal with them properly. 


- They believed that they could obtain information about the law and legal action methods through the Internet, and that they could find help through searches if necessary. 


- They believe that when a legal dispute arises, there is a need for an organization that mediates or intervenes in the dispute.


•  Middle Aged in 40s


- They believe that people who know the law well and use it can gain more profits without suffering losses, but many people are not protected. 


- Among those who participated in the interview, there was a large gap in knowledge and information about the law, and it varied depending on age, network, and experience. 


- They believe that understanding and applying the law can bring comfort in some cases, but it can also cause discomfort in other cases. 


- They perceive a lack of information about sources of legal help or how to obtain professional help.



•  Residents of Towns and Villages


- They consider the law as a last resort and try to avoid problems related to the law in everyday situations. 


- Many of them believed that legal disputes can cause stress and costs, and that the law should be used only when dialogue and compromise are difficult. 


- Among those who participated in the interview, some experienced difficulties due to not being able to obtain appropriate information when legal problems arose. 


- Among those interviewed, some thought that accessibility to legal services was lower than in other cities, but others thought that they could receive appropriate help through the Internet.

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