SCTS Complaints Procedure

SCTS Complaints Procedure

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service is committed to providing high-quality services.

We value complaints and use information from them to help us to improve our services.

If something goes wrong or you are dissatisfied with our services, please tell us. This leaflet describes our complaints procedure and how to make a complaint. It also tells you about our service standards and what you can expect from us. You can download a PDF copy of the Complaints Procedure or the Complaints Procedure Easy Read.

What is a complaint?

We define a complaint as any expression of dissatisfaction about our action or lack of action, or about the standard of service provided by us or on our behalf.

What can I complain about?

You can complain about things like:

  • delays in responding to your enquiries and requests
  • failure to provide a service
  • our standards of service
  • our policies
  • treatment by or attitude of a member of staff
  • failure to follow proper procedure.

Your complaint may involve more than one service or be about someone working for us.

What can’t I complain about?

There are some things we can’t deal with through our complaints handling procedure. These include:

  • an initial request for service, e.g. asking us for a form, or to accept payment of a fine
  • a request for an explanation of our policies
  • a complaint about or an appeal against a court or tribunal decision
  • a complaint about the conduct of a judicial office holder or tribunal  member
  • a complaint about the conduct of other organisations in the public sector.

If other procedures or rights of appeal can help you resolve your concerns, we will give information and advice, though not legal advice, to help you.

Who can complain?

Anyone can make a complaint to us, including the representative of someone who is dissatisfied with our service. Please also read the section on ‘Getting help to make your complaint’.

How do I complain?

You can complain in person at any of our courts or offices, by phone, in writing, or by e-mail. We aim to develop an online complaints form but this is not available yet.

It is often easier for complaints to be resolved if you make them quickly and directly to the service concerned. So please consider talking to a member of our staff providing the service you are complaining about. Then they can try to resolve any problems on the spot. Or write directly to the tribunal, office or court concerned. You will find our location details on the right hand side of our website home page, with email addresses listed alphabetically.   

When making a complaint, please tell us:

  • your full name and address
  • as much as you can about the complaint
  • what has gone wrong
  • how you want us to resolve the matter
  • your preferred way of being contacted by us about your complaint.

How long do I have to make a complaint?

Normally, you must make your complaint within six months of:

  • the action or inaction you want to complain about, or
  • finding out that you have a reason to complain, but no longer than 12 months after the action or inaction itself.

In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to accept a complaint after the time limit. If you feel that the time limit should not apply to your complaint, please tell us why.

What happens when I have complained?

We will always tell you who is dealing with your complaint.

Our complaints procedure has two stages:

1 Front Line Response

We aim to resolve complaints quickly and close to where we provided the service. This could mean an on-the-spot apology and explanation if something has clearly gone wrong, and we will try to take immediate action to resolve the problem.

We will give you our decision within five working days.

2 Investigation

We will look into all complaints and those that appear to be complicated or serious may need a detailed investigation. We will also investigate if you are not satisfied with our frontline response.

When we investigate a complaint we will:

  • acknowledge receipt of your complaint within three working days
  • where appropriate, try to discuss your complaint with you to understand why you are dissatisfied and what outcome you are looking for
  • give you a full written response to the complaint as soon as possible and within 20 working days.
  • If our investigation will take longer than 20 working days, we will tell you. We will try to agree revised time limits with you and will keep you updated on our progress.

    What if I’m still dissatisfied?

    If you are still dissatisfied with our final decision or the way we dealt with your complaint, you can ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) to look at it.

    The SPSO considers complaints about Scottish public authorities and has produced a Statement of Complaints Handling Principles, which we endorse – see

    The SPSO cannot normally look at:

  • a complaint that has not completed our complaints procedure (so please make sure it has done so before contacting the SPSO)
  • events that happened, or that you became aware of, more than a year ago
  • a matter that has been or is being considered in court.

3 You can contact the SPSO:

  • In Person: SPSO, Bridgeside House, 99 McDonald Road, Edinburgh, EH7 4NS
  • By Post: Freepost SPSO 
  • By Telephone: Freephone 0800 377 7330;   (or 0131 225 5300)
  • Online contact:
  • Website:
  • Getting help to make your complaint

    We understand that you may be unable, or reluctant, to make a complaint yourself. We accept complaints from the representative of a person who is dissatisfied with our service. We can take complaints from a friend, relative, or an advocate (someone who will support you), if you have given them your consent to complain for you.

    You can find out about advocates in your area by contacting the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance.

    Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance

  • Tel: 0131 556 6443
  • Fax: 0131 550 9819
  • Website:

    We are committed to making our service easy to use for all members of the community. In line with our statutory equalities duties, we will always ensure that reasonable adjustments are made to help people access and use our services. If you have trouble putting your complaint in writing, or want information in another language or format, such as large print, audio or Braille, please tell us in person, or contact us at these addresses/phone numbers.  Please Note:  In all other circumstances your complaint should be made, in the first instance, directly to the tribunal, office or court providing the service you are complaining about. This can be done in writing, via email or in person.

    Contact Details:

    • Contact details, including the generic email addresses and phone numbers, for all courts and offices can be found on right hand side of our website home page under the heading “Court Locations” and are listed alphabetically.     Contact the court/office

We can also give you this leaflet in other languages and formats (such as large print, audio and Braille).

You can download a PDF copy of the Complaints Procedure.

Quick guide to our complaints procedure

Complaints procedure

You can make a complaint in person, by phone, by letter, or by e-mail.

We have a two-stage complaints procedure. We will always try to deal with your complaint quickly. But if it is clear that the matter will need a detailed investigation, we will tell you and keep you updated on our progress.

Frontline resolution

We will try to resolve your complaint quickly, within five working days if we can.

If you are dissatisfied with our frontline response, you can ask us to investigate your complaint.


We will look into all complaints and those that appear to be complicated or serious may need a detailed investigation. We will also investigate if you are not satisfied with our frontline response.

We will acknowledge your complaint within five working days. We will give you our decision as soon as possible. This will be after no more than 20 working days unless there is clearly a good reason for needing more time.

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO)

If, after receiving our final decision on your complaint, you remain dissatisfied with our decision or the way we have handled your complaint, you can ask the SPSO to consider it.

We will tell you how to do this when we send you our final decision.

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