How do I start a claim?
If you have decided that you wish to start court proceedings you will need to fill in a claim form (Form 3A).
The form can be obtained from:
You may receive free advice and assistance from any of the following:
Please note that sheriff clerks and their staff cannot give you legal advice, although they can help you understand court procedures.
Alternatively, you may wish to consult a solicitor. If you wish to employ a solicitor, he or she will obtain and complete the form for you.
Which court do I go to?
There are 39 courts in Scotland and you will now have to decide in which one your claim should be brought [find sheriff court].
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.
Sometimes, the court closest to where you live can be the one which will hear the case.
There are some cases where special rules apply, for example, a special rule applies, in most circumstances, to what are known as ‘consumer contracts’. An example of a consumer contract would be where you have reached an agreement with a shop to purchase goods and pay for them by instalments. If you, as the consumer, (the person purchasing the goods), wished to take court proceedings for any reason against the shop, you could choose to raise the proceedings either in the court within whose area you live or in the one within whose area the shop premises are situated. However, if the shop wished to take proceedings against you, it could only do so in the court within whose area you live.
It is possible, in certain circumstances, to raise a claim in cases even where the defender does not live in Scotland, or when you do not know where he or she is.
Deciding which court is appropriate is, in most cases, quite straightforward. If in doubt, you might wish to seek advice from one of the organisations listed above.
How do I make a claim?
You will need to fill in the claim form (Form 3A). It is important to follow the guidance within the form and make sure as much information as possible is contained in the form to allow the sheriff or summary sheriff to fully consider your claim. The information also gives the respondent fair notice of what the claim is about.
Part 3 of the Simple Procedure Rules explains how to make a claim.
Once you have completed the claim form you should copy it, and take or send both the claim form and the copy to the sheriff court that should deal with your claim [find sheriff court]. Please inform the sheriff clerk if you wish them to serve the claim for you.
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 along with the fee exemption application form.
What will the court do with the claim form?
The sheriff clerk will check that you have filled in the claim form correctly. If there are any problems which mean that the claim cannot be registered, the sheriff clerk will return the claim form and the fee to you for correction. Some problems might include:
- The claim form not being accompanied by the correct fee.
- The claim form being sent to the wrong sheriff court.
- The claim form asking for something that is not possible in simple procedure, such as making a claim for over £5,000.
- The claim form being incomplete.
In some circumstances, the sheriff clerk may need to ask the sheriff or summary sheriff for approval before registering the claim. Please refer to Part 3 of the simple procedure rules.
If there are no such problems the sheriff clerk will register the claim, assign the claim a case reference number and issue a timetable (Form 3D).
The timetable contains two dates:
- the last date for service and
- the last date for a response.
The last date for service is the last date by which the claim form should be served on the respondent. This must normally be at least three weeks before the last date for a response. The last date for response is the last date by which the respondent must send a Response Form (Form 4A) to the court and to the claimant.
Part 3 of the Simple Procedure Rules explains how to make a claim and what the court will do with that claim.
How is the claim form served on the respondent?
The claim form has to be served on the respondent. You cannot serve the claim form on the respondent by yourself.
Service involves sending the claim form along with other forms to the respondent by recorded delivery letter. If delivery by post is unsuccessful, the claim form and other forms will be returned to the court, and you will be informed of this. The claim form and other forms must then be served by a sheriff officer, who does this either by delivering it personally to the respondent, or leaving it at the respondent’s address.
Who can serve a claim form?
If you are raising a claim as an individual, or as a sole trader, you can ask the sheriff clerk to serve the claim form for you.
The sheriff clerk will not do so in any other case.
If the sheriff clerk is serving the claim for you, you should send to the court the claim form that you have filled in and a copy of that form. The copy claim form will be served on the respondent. The sheriff clerk will keep the principal claim form. If delivery by post is unsuccessful, and you want to continue with your claim, the claim will have to be served by sheriff officer. The sheriff clerk will write to you to tell you that this has happened. There is an additional fee payable to the sheriff clerk for arranging this service. The sheriff clerk will advise you of the current fees, or you can check on the sheriff court fees.
If the sheriff clerk cannot serve the claim form for you, or if you would prefer, a solicitor or a sheriff officer can serve a claim form on your behalf. They will charge a fee for this service.
If you are asking a solicitor or sheriff officer to serve the claim form on the respondent, the sheriff clerk will return the copy claim form to you with the timetable (Form 3D). The sheriff clerk will keep the principal claim form. You should then take the forms to the solicitor or sheriff officer who will be serving the claim for you. Once they have served the claim, the solicitor or sheriff officer will also complete a Confirmation of Formal Service Form (Form 6C) to confirm that they have formally served the claim form and other forms which are listed in the rules (see link to Part 6 below) on the respondent. Please remember to return the claim form, along with the Confirmation of Formal Service (Form 6C) to the sheriff clerk as soon as possible after service has been completed.
What if I do not know or cannot find out the respondents address?
If the respondent’s address is unknown, you must take all reasonable steps to find out the address. If after doing so, you still do not know the address and cannot find it out, you must complete a Service by Advertisement Form (Form 6B).
The form is sent to the court along with a copy of the claim form and the correct fee. Once the claim is registered by the sheriff clerk, the sheriff or summary sheriff may order the details of the claim to be advertised on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals website (www.scotcourts.gov.uk). The sheriff clerk will arrange this for you. A copy of the timetable (Form 3D)will be sent to you for your information.
Part 6 of the Simple Procedure Rules explains what has to be done when the Rules require something and or a document to be sent or formally served on someone.
Part 18 of the Simple Procedure Rules explains how to formally serve a document on someone living in Scotland.
Part 19 of the Simple Procedure Rules explains how to formally serve a document on someone outside Scotland.
What do I do if no response form is received by the court?
If no response form is received by the court, you must within two weeks of the last date for a response send to the court an Application for a Decision (Form 7A).
The sheriff may:
- Make a decision awarding all or part of the claim or dismissing the claim.
- Consider that a decision cannot be made awarding all or part of the claim and order you to attend a hearing to discuss this decision.
Please note that if you do not send the court an application for decision within two weeks of the last date for a response, the sheriff will dismiss your claim.
Part 7 Rule 7.4 of the simple procedure rules explains what happens when no response form is received.