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Simple Procedure


What is Simple Procedure?

Simple procedure is a court process designed to provide a speedy, inexpensive and informal way to resolve disputes. 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.

Currently simple procedure claims can be lodged in paper format or electronically using the SCTS civil online portal.  

From 1 December 2020 the way a simple procedure claim can be lodged with the court is changing.  Claims should be completed and submitted electronically using the SCTS civil online portal.  If you feel you cannot submit your claim electronically, from 1 December 2020 you must seek the approval of the sheriff for the claim to proceed in paper format.

A simple procedure claim can be made:

  • for payment of a sum of money where the value of the claim is £5000 or less;
  • for delivery or for recovery of possession of moveable property, but only where there is an alternative claim for payment of a sum of money of £5000 or less; or
  • for an order to make someone do something specific, but only where there is an alternative claim for payment of a sum of money of £5000 or less.

Simple procedure cannot be used for a claim for delivery or recovery of possession of moveable property, or a claim for an order to make someone do something specific which:

  • does not have an alternative claim for payment of a sum of money;
  • has an additional claim for payment of a sum of money of £5000 or less.

Summary cause procedure would have to be used instead.

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 need to complete a claim form. This should be completed and submitted electronically using the SCTS civil online portal

Frequently asked questions on using the civil online portal can be viewed here

Legal firms can transfer simple procedure applications from their internal case management systems directly into Civil Online.  Firms wishing to start using the API, or who have queries regarding its use should contact civilonlinehelp@scotcourts.gov.uk

If you feel you cannot submit your claim electronically, you must seek the approval of the sheriff for the claim to proceed in paper format.  To do so you should send a note to the court, along with a two copies of a completed claim form and relevant fee**, setting out why you are unable to submit your claim electronically. You should make sure that you include the names and addresses of parties at the top of your note.  

**or when lodging the claim, for approval by the Sheriff, with the Sheriff Clerk.

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.  A fee must be paid at the point of online submission**.  Fees can be paid online by credit or debit card.  If your claim is rejected by the court, any fee paid will be refunded automatically.  Professional users can use a SCTS credit account

**or when lodging the claim, for approval by the Sheriff, with the Sheriff Clerk.

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 complete the response form. You can either do this online or fill in the Form 4A by the last date for a response. The form will also need to be sent to the claimant. This will be done automatically if the claimant has indicated on the claim form that they would prefer the court and other parties to contact them online. If they have not, then a copy of the response form will have to be sent to them by post.


Alternatively you can complete
Form 4A and send it by post 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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