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i The advice on this page applies to residents of Scotland only.

Court action in Scotland to collect debt

If you live in Scotland and your creditors start court action they’ll apply for a decision/decree.

This information only applies to people in debt in Scotland; if you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland the action your creditors can take is different.

Most court action is started in the sheriff court, but for larger or more complex cases the creditor may start a case in the Court of Session.

Can you be taken to court for debt in Scotland?

If your creditor decides to take you to court, you’ll get:

  • Debts owed up to £5,000 - a document from the court called a ‘simple procedure notice of claim (form 6A)'
  • Debts over £5,000 - an ‘initial writ’

For debts regulated by the Consumer Credit Act, the creditor must have already sent you a default notice and given you at least 14 days to comply before starting court action.

It’s important that you act straight away. Our guide to decision/decrees will help you understand what to do next.

If you ignore the claim or initial writ, or if you don’t make the payment that’s asked for in a decision/decree, your creditor can begin diligence to recover the debt.

What’s the equivalent of a CCJ in Scotland?

Decrees are the Scottish equivalent of money judgments, known as County Court judgments (CCJs), in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

How long can a debt be chased in Scotland?

It depends on the type of debt and whether court action has already been taken against you. The timescale for a debt regulated by the Consumer Credit Act to be ‘prescribed’ in Scotland is generally five years.

When a debt is prescribed it ceases to exist. Creditors cannot chase you for the money owed.

Free multilingual debt guide

We've put together a free, downloadable guide to help you deal with your money worries

Our guide to dealing with debt in Scotland covers debt collection processes, where to get help, budgeting and what to expect from a debt advice session. It’s available to download in English, Urdu, Punjabi and Polish. Find out more.

Help and advice

Court action from creditors is a warning sign that your debt problem could be getting serious. It’s never too late to get debt help, and we can give you advice on completing any court forms and on dealing with all of your debts.

You can use our online debt advice tool, or call us (free from all landlines and mobiles). We'll give you expert tailored advice on how to get your situation back on track.

In this section:

  1. Sheriff officers
  2. What is Diligence?
  3. Arrestment of wages
  4. Court Decision or Decree