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Simple Procedure

Applies from 28th November 2016


What is Simple Procedure?

Simple procedure is a court process designed to provide a speedy, inexpensive and informal way to resolve disputes where the monetary value does not exceed £5,000. A claim is made in the sheriff court by a claimant.  The party against whom the claim is made is known as a respondent. The final decision in a claim is made by a sheriff or a summary sheriff. You do not need to use a solicitor to use the simple procedure, but you can do if you wish.

From 28 November 2016 simple procedure replaces the current small claims procedure. It also replaces the summary cause procedure  but only where it relates to actions for payment, delivery or for recovery of possession of moveable property, or actions which order someone to do something specific.

Where the value of the claim is over £5,000 the ordinary cause procedure  should be followed.

An overview of simple procedure is provided in Part 1 of the Simple Procedure Rules

 

What do I need to do before making a claim?

Before completing the claim form it is important that you have tried to settle the dispute. This could mean writing to the person or company you have the dispute with and trying to agree a settlement.

Another option that may help you settle the dispute, before you decide to complete the claim form, is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Further information on ADR can be found on the mygov.scot website.   
ADR is also something that the sheriff or summary sheriff may refer you to after you have sent your claim form to the court as a way of settling the dispute out of court.

Other things you might wish to consider before making a claim are:

  • Is the person likely to be able to pay?
  • If a company, has it ceased trading?
  • Are you raising the claim against the correct person/company?
  • Can you afford the time to prepare your case for the court hearing if the claim is defended?
  • Can you afford to pay the cost of having any decision made in your favour enforced if it is not complied with as the court cannot do this for you?

 

How do I make a claim?

If you have exhausted all your options and wish to make a claim, you will require to complete a Claim Form (Form 3A).  Once you have filled in your form, you should print it and either post or take it to the sheriff court that should deal with your claim. Part 3  of the simple procedure explains how to make a claim and what the court will do with your claim.

You will need to decide in which of the 39 sheriff courts in Scotland your claim should be brought. In most cases, the court which will hear the claim will be the one within whose area the person the claim is to be made against ( the respondent) lives or has a place of business. For further information contact your local sheriff court.

Please note that staff in the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service cannot give you legal advice, although they can help you to understand court procedures. You may wish to consult with and be represented in court by a solicitor, lay representative or courtroom supporter. Part 2 of the simple procedure explains about representatives and what they may and may not do.

You will need to pay a fee to the court when submitting your claim form. The current fees can be accessed in the Sheriff Court Fees  section. You may be entitled to fee exemption, for example, if you receive certain state benefits. Further information can be found in the Court Fees section and the fee exemption application form.

 

How do I respond to a claim?

If a claim is made against you, the first formal notice you will receive is a copy of the completed claim form. Contained in the same envelope will be a response form (Form 4A). This usually comes by recorded delivery post but you may also receive it from a sheriff officer.

The claim form contains the details of the claim made against you. If you wish to either:

  • dispute the claim,
  • admit liability for the claim and ask the court for time to pay; or
  • admit liability for the claim and settle it before the last date for a response

you should fill in Form 4A and send it to both the court and the claimant by the last date for a response.

Part 4 of the simple procedure explains how you respond to a claim and what the court will do with your response.

Part 5  explains how you may ask for time to pay if the claim is for payment of a sum of money and how the claimant can consent or object to that.

Please note that staff in the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service cannot give you legal advice, although they can help you to understand court procedures. You may wish to consult with and be represented in court by a solicitor, lay representative or courtroom supporter. Part 2 of the simple procedure explains about representatives and what they may and may not do.

 

What will happen to my case?

You may not need to attend court if:

  • The respondent has not sent a response form
  • The respondent has settled the claim before the last date for a response
  • The claimant and the respondent have agreed payment terms about the payment of the claim

You may need to attend court if:

  • The claimant has not accepted the offer of payment detailed in a response form
  • The respondent wishes to defend all or part of the claim
  • The sheriff or summary sheriff wishes to discuss certain matters about the claim

Should you need to attend court, you will be informed of the reasons, date and time of any hearing or discussion that the court has fixed.

You may be worried about attending court, particularly if you do not have a solicitor or other representative to speak for you. The following may help you to prepare:

  • Part 7 of the simple procedure explains what happens after a response form is received or if no response form is received.
  • Part 8 of the simple procedure explains the orders that a sheriff or summary sheriff can give to manage or decide a case.
  • Part 21 contains a glossary explaining the meaning of certain legal words and expressions used in simple procedure.

If you are attending court, you may have already looked at some parts of the Simple Procedure Rules which can be viewed in full here.

 

Further Information

If you would like further information on simple procedure, please contact your local sheriff court. If you plan to visit the court to get further guidance or information it would be helpful to contact the court in advance to arrange a suitable time to do this, for example, outwith busy court times. It would also be helpful to mention whether you have any special access or communication support needs.Contact your local sheriff court. Citizens Advice Bureau can also assist you. You can find contact details for your local office on the Citizens Advice Bureau website

 

Where can I get legal advice?

Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service staff cannot give you legal advice as they are not legally qualified. If you do need legal advice, the Law Society of Scotland can provide contact details for solicitors in your area. See the Law Society of Scotland website for further information.

Please Note: The information above cannot cover every situation which might arise in the course of a claim. You should also note that this information is not the authority upon which the procedure is based. The formal authority is contained in the Simple Procedure Rules.

 

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