What are small claims?
Small claims are designed to be simplified and less formal and can only be applied for in the sheriff court. The procedure can be used where the value of the claim is up to and including £3000. There are some circumstances where this procedure cannot be used, even if the value of the claim is less than £3000; for example, actions for recovery of possession of heritable property and damages resulting from personal injuries. In these cases the summary cause procedure would be used where the claim is up to and including £5000 and the ordinary cause procedure where the value is above £5000. You do not need to use a solicitor to use the small claims procedure, but you can do if you wish.
Guidance notes are available to assist you and provide very useful information on the small claim procedure. They include information on the procedure more generally; helpful advice on completing the forms; defending an action; and some useful information if you need to go to court. It is recommended that you read these guidance notes before deciding whether or not to raise a claim and also to refer to them throughout the procedure. They are available in the 'Guidance Notes' section.
If you wish to consider settling out of court, information on the various options, including how alternative dispute resolution (ADR) may help solve a consumer problem, is available on the Citizens Advice Scotland website.
Which forms do I need to use?
There are various forms which will need to be used at different stages of the procedure; all forms can be accessed in the small claim forms section .
How much does it cost?
Court fees are payable for lodging these claims in court, 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.
You should note that these fees do not include any fees you may need to pay if you have instructed a solicitor to help you. The solicitor can give you information on these costs.
Can I claim expenses?
There is a limit to the amount of expenses that can be awarded in a small claim, further information can be found in the guidance notes.
The court rules can be accessed in the small claim rules section.
Frequently asked questions
Frequently asked questions related to small claims can be accessed in the Frequently Asked Questions section.
If you would like further information on the small claim 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 court.
Citizens Advice Bureau can also assist you, you can find contact details for your local office on the Citizens Advice Bureau website and more information on small claims in their guidance document: What is a small claim.
Where can I get legal advice?
Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service staff are not legally qualified and therefore cannot provide you with any legal advice. 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 rules.