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Court action in Scotland to collect debt

If you live in Scotland and the people you owe start court action they will apply for a decision/decree.

This information applies to people in debt in Scotland. The people you owe will take different actions if you live in:

Most court action is started in the sheriff court. For larger or more complex cases the people you owe 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 will 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
  • Give you at least 14 days to comply before starting court action

You must act straight away. Our guide to decision/decrees will help you understand what to do next.

Your creditor can begin diligence to recover the debt if you:

  • Ignore the claim or initial writ, or
  • Do not make the payment that is asked for in a decision/decree

What is a decree?

A decree is a formal order from the court saying you must pay money to a creditor. If you do not pay what you are ordered to pay in a decree, further action can be taken against you.

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

How long can a debt be chased in Scotland?

After a certain amount of time, a debt is 'prescribed'. This means it does not exist anymore. And the people you owe must stop chasing you for the debt after this time.

How long this takes 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. This means debts like credit card debts.

Free multilingual debt guide

We have made a free, downloadable guide to help you deal with your money worries

Our guide to dealing with debt in Scotland covers:

  • The debt collection processes
  • Where to get help
  • Budgeting
  • What to expect from a debt advice session

It is available to download in English, Urdu, Punjabi and Polish. Find out more.

Help and advice

Court action is a warning sign that your debt problem could be getting serious. It is not too late to get debt help. We can give you advice on completing court forms and dealing with your debts.

You can use our online debt advice tool at any time. We will give you expert 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