Help and FAQs Section

This page contains a glossary of terms and circumstances along with explanations and next steps that can be taken.

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


2. 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.


3. Where do I go for advice?

You may receive free advice and assistance from any of the following:


4. What documents will I receive?

If a claim is made against you, the first formal notice you will receive is an envelope containing the following documents:

  • A copy of the Claim Form (Form 3A).
  • A Further Claimant Forms or Further Respondent Forms (Forms 3B and 3C).
  • A blank Response Form (Form 4A).
  • A copy of the Notice of Claim (Form 6A).
  • A copy of the Timetable (Form 3D).
  • A blank Time to Pay Application (Form 5A) (This form will only be included if time to pay can be applied for).
  • Any other document approved by the sheriff principal that is applicable to the claim.

This usually comes by recorded delivery post, but you may also receive it from a sheriff officer or a solicitor. A sheriff officer is authorised by the court to deliver a copy to you personally, or leave it with someone in your household or place of business.

The copy claim form contains details of the claim and the other documents contain information on how to assist you in making a response to the court and the claimant.


5. How do I respond to a claim?

Once you receive a claim there are three ways in which you can choose to respond:
  • Admit the claim and settle it before the last date for a response.
  • Admit the claim and ask the court for time to pay.
  • Dispute the claim or part of the claim (such as the amount you should pay the claimant).

If you decide that you wish to respond in one of the three ways mentioned above, you must fill in the Response Form (Form 4A). 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 response. The information also gives the claimant fair notice of what your response is.

Once you have filled in the response form, you must send it to the sheriff clerk and also to the claimant so that it is received by the last date for a response.

Part 4 of the simple procedure explains how to respond to a claim.


6. What happens if I admit the claim and settle before the last date for a response?

If you want to avoid a court decision being made against you, you should settle the claim (including any expenses) with the claimant by the last date for a response. If you do not do this, it may then be too late to prevent a court decision being made against you.

If you settle the claim in this way, the claimant must tell the court so that the claim can be brought to an end.

It may be in your best interests to contact the sheriff court yourself to confirm that the claimant has told the court that the claim has been settled. Part 7 of the simple procedure rules explains what happens to a claim.


7. What happens if I admit the claim and ask the court for time to pay?

You may wish to admit the claim and also apply to pay any sum being claimed by instalments or within a specified period.

You can ask for time to pay in three ways:

Part 5 of the simple procedure rules explains how to ask for time to pay.


8. What happens if I ask for time to pay?

If you send a Time to Pay Application (Form 5A) to the court, or hand to the sheriff clerk at a hearing, the sheriff clerk must send a copy of your application along with a Time to Pay Notice (Form 5B) to the claimant.

The claimant then has two weeks to indicate on the notice if they accept or object to your offer and send the notice to the court.
If the claimant accepts your offer, the sheriff or summary sheriff may grant the Time to Pay Application (Form 5A) and make a decision in the case. This means you will not have to attend court.

If the claimant objects to your offer, the sheriff or summary sheriff must arrange a time to pay hearing.The sheriff clerk will write to you and the claimant to tell you the date, time and place where the hearing will take place.It would be in your best interest to appear, or be represented, at the time to pay hearing so that the sheriff or summary sheriff can hear both you and the claimant on the application. The sheriff or summary sheriff must decide whether to grant or refuse the application.

If the claimant does not accept or object to your offer within two weeks after being sent the Time to Pay Notice(Form 5B) by the court, the sheriff or summary sheriff must decide the case and grant or refuse the application.You may not need to attend court.

Part 5 of the simple procedure rules explains how to ask for time to pay.


9. What happens if I dispute the claim or part of the claim?

If you dispute the claim and have sent the response form to the court, the sheriff or summary sheriff will consider the case. The sheriff or summary sheriff may then do any of five things:

  • Refer you and the claimant to alternative dispute resolution
  • Arrange a case management discussion
  • Arrange a hearing
  • If the sheriff or summary sheriff feels that a decision can be made without a hearing, indicate that they are doing so
  • Dismiss the claim or decide the claim.

10. What happens if I do not send a response form?

If you do nothing in response to the claim, the court will almost certainly make a decision against you. You will then be required to do what the claimant has asked in the claim form. You will also have to pay any interest and court expenses claimed.

If the claim form asks you to do something for the claimant or deliver something to the claimant, the court may order you to carry this out by a certain date.If you do not do this, and the claimant has asked in the claim form for payment of a sum of money if you fail to do as the court has asked, the claimant will be entitled to come back to the court and make an application for payment of the alternative amount claimed.

If the claim is for payment of a sum of money, and you do not respond to the claim, you should consider seeking advice on whether to make an application to the court for time to pay the sum of money claimed.Please see the list above on where to go for advice.


11. What happens in a disputed case?

If the respondent disputes the claim and has sent the response form to the court, the sheriff (includes summary sheriff where referred to on this page) will consider the case. The sheriff must, within two weeks of the Response Form being sent to the court, issue a first written order which may do any of five things:

  • Refer the respondent and the claimant to alternative dispute resolution
  • Arrange a case management discussion
  • Arrange a hearing
  • Indicate that the sheriff thinks that a decision could be made without a hearing, and that they are considering doing so.
  • Dismiss the claim or decide the claim.

Part 7 of the simple procedure rules explains about what happens after a Response Form has been received.

Part 8 of the simple procedure rules explains about the orders that the sheriff can give to manage or decide your case.


12. What is an order?

The sheriff uses Orders to manage or decide a case. Orders can be given in writing (Form 8A and Standard Orders) or in person at a case management discussion or a hearing.

Standard Orders are orders that the sheriff may give in typical situations and the sheriff may do one of three things:

  • Give parties a standard order
  • Give parties an amended standard order, or
  • Give parties an order customised to their case.

Should a party not follow an order, the sheriff may make a decision in the case, including:

  • Dismissing the claim or part of the claim.
  • Awarding the claimant some or all of what was asked for in the Claim Form.

The standard orders can be viewed in full in Schedule 3 of the simple procedure rules at: http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/rules-and-practice/forms/sheriff-court-forms/simple-procedure-forms

Another type of order the sheriff can issue is an Unless Order(SO6). This is an order which states that unless a party does something, or takes a step, that is detailed in the order, for example, to deliver something to someone within a specified time period, then the sheriff will make a decision in the case. This could include:

  • Dismissing the claim.
  • Awarding the claimant some or all of what was asked for in the claim form.

Part 8 of the simple procedure rules explains about the orders that the sheriff can give to manage or decide your case.


13. What is a Case Management Discussion?

A case management discussion is an informal hearing the sheriff may arrange so they can:

  • Discuss the claim and response with both the claimant and respondent to clarify any concerns the sheriff may have.
  • Discuss negotiation and alternative dispute resolution with the claimant and respondent.
  • Give the claimant and respondent, in person, guidance and orders about witnesses, documents and other evidence which they need to bring to a hearing.
  • Give the claimant and respondent, in person, orders which arrange a hearing
  • Make a decision in the case.

A case management discussion takes place in a courtroom or any other place decided by the sheriff. The sheriff will also decide how the discussion will take place, for example, by video conference, conference call or any other form that they decide.

Part 7 of the simple procedure rules explain about case management discussions.


14. What is a hearing?

If the respondent disputes or defends the claim, the sheriff will want to find out about the facts that are not agreed on by asking questions of the claimant and respondent and any witnesses the sheriff thinks will help decide these facts.

The purpose of a hearing is to help the sheriff make a decision in the case.

The hearing will require the attendance of all parties involved in the case. The sheriff may also ask witnesses to attend the hearing, to help find out about the facts that are not agreed upon.You will be informed of the date, time and place of the hearing.

It may be necessary for the court to inspect a document or item, or visit a place, to help decide the facts that are not agreed upon.
Parties must send each other and the court a List of Evidence Form(Form 10A) at least two weeks before the hearing.The form must list all the evidence and documents that you are lodging with the court.

If you think that there would be practical difficulties involved in sending evidence to the court, you must contact the sheriff clerk. The sheriff clerk will consult with the sheriff and the sheriff may give you permission to lodge a description or possibly a photograph of the evidence. You must then bring this to the hearing.

If you wish to be represented or ask for advice about appearing in court, please see ‘Representation and Advice’.

Part 6 of the simple procedure rules explains what has to be done when the Rules require something to be sent to someone and the court.

Part 10 of the simple procedure rules explains about documents and other evidence.

Part 11 of the simple procedure rules explains about the citation of witnesses and their attendance at hearings.


15. How will the dispute be resolved at the hearing?

To assist you to resolve the claim, the sheriff may take the following actions:

  • The sheriff may refer you to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as a way to try and settle disputes outside of the courtroom. Further information on ADR can be found on the mygov.scot website.
  • If the sheriff thinks that settlement is possible by negotiation between the claimant and the respondent, the sheriff must help you to negotiate settlement of the dispute. If this is not possible, the sheriff must make a decision on the claim.

Part 11 of the simple procedure rules explain about witnesses.

Part 12 of the simple procedure rules explain about the hearing.


16. What decisions can the sheriff make?

The sheriff may make any decision which resolves the dispute between the parties, including a decision which:

  • Orders the respondent to pay the claimant a sum of money.
  • Orders the respondent to deliver something to the claimant.
  • Orders the respondent to do something for the claimant.
  • Dismisses the claim or part of the claim made by the claimant.
  • Absolves the respondent of the claim or part of the claim made by the claimant.

A decision which absolves the respondent in a claim means that the claimant cannot make a claim about the same subject against the respondent again.
Part 13 of the simple procedure rules explains about the decision of the sheriff.


17. What order can the sheriff make about expenses?

Once the decision on a claim has been made, the sheriff must make an order about expenses, such as:

  • That no payments are to be made in respect of the expenses of any party.
  • That a payment is to be made to a party or party’s solicitor.

As a general rule, court expenses are awarded to the party who succeeds in the claim. These expenses must then be paid by the unsuccessful party.

Expenses which may be awarded to the successful party by the court include:

  • The cost of any solicitor employed by the successful party.
  • Loss of wages and travelling expenses for the successful party and any witness who appeared on their behalf.