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Small claims - Scotland

1 Existence of a specific small claims procedure

In Scotland Sheriff Courts have a small claims procedure which is a simplified procedure dealing with cases below a threshold of £3,000. The next procedure above that is called "summary cause" which deals with cases up to £5,000 and is slightly more complicated than small claims.

1.1 Scope of procedure, threshold

The monetary limits are as set out above. In addition small claims can be raised as actions ad factum praestandum and actions for the recovery of moveable property with an alternative claim for payment of less than £3,000. Actions ad factum praestandum are obligations to do or perform some act, other than the payment of money.

Summary Cause actions can be raised as actions of furthcoming (a type of action raised for the recovery of money or property), count reckoning and payment, recovery of possession of heritable property, delivery, and interim aliment. If there is an alternative claim for payment this would have to be below £5,000 and above £3,000.

1.2 Application of procedure

An action raised as either a small claim or summary cause must follow the court rules, which are obligatory.

1.3 Forms

There are specific forms for all stages of the small claims and summary cause procedure e.g. summons for raising the action, form of extract decree. It is obligatory to use the forms, which are set out in the Small Claims Rules 2002 and Summary Cause Rules 2002. These forms are on the Link opens in new windowScottish Courts and Tribunals Service website.

1.4 Assistance

The Sheriff Clerk's Office will assist in completion of the summons and advice agencies like the Citizens Advice Bureau also offer assistance. Forms for guidance are also located on the Link opens in new windowScottish Courts and Tribunals Service website.

1.5 Rules concerning the taking of evidence

Small claim hearings are conducted as informally as the circumstances of the claim permit. The Sheriff explains any legal terms or expressions which are used.  In summary cause and small claims actions after all the evidence has been considered the Sheriff hears parties on the evidence and he may pronounce his judgment then or reserve judgment.

1.6 Written procedure

The procedure would be purely written if the action is undefended.  If defended, however, the case would require to call in court.

1.7 Content of judgment

The rules are relaxed in small claims and summary cause as the Sheriff has only to give his decision in writing together with a brief note of the reasons.

1.8 Reimbursement of costs

There will normally be no award of expenses  made in a small claim in which the value of the claim does not exceed £200.

If the value is between £200 and £1500, the maximum amount of expenses which can normally be awarded by the court to the successful party is  £150.

If the value is between £1500 and £3000, the maximum amount of expenses which can normally be awarded by the court to the successful party is 10% of the value of the claim.

Summary cause - does not have the same restrictions and an account of expenses is normally assessed by the sheriff clerk.

1.9 Possibility to appeal

A small claims decision can be appealed. An appeal to the Sheriff Appeal Court must be by note of appeal in Form 21 and lodged with the sheriff clerk not later than 14 days after the date of final decree.  Summary cause is the same except Form 31 is used.

However, the procedure used is recall of decree when the case has not been defended. A minute for recall of decree must be lodged within 14 days of the granting of decree.

Related links

The Link opens in new windowScottish Courts and Tribunals Service website includes the ordinary, summary cause and small claims rules.


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Last update: 14/12/2016