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

Sheriff officers rights and powers. What they can and can’t do

Sheriff officers are officers of the Scottish court who enforce any action, including decrees raised and issued by the Sheriff Court in Scotland.

Sheriff officers are responsible for enforcing diligence, the action a creditor can take to recover a debt after court action has been taken. 

Diligence can only begin in certain situations. Our section on court action in Scotland can help you understand what to do and how to deal with debts that are being dealt with by the Scottish court.


What powers do sheriff officers have?

Sheriff officers are involved as soon as the creditor starts court action. They'll try to speak to you about what action is being served and explain the importance of the documents and the process involved. This is different depending on the type of debt, but documents are usually delivered by hand or by first class recorded post.

Diligence usually begins with a ‘Charge for Payment’ being issued from the court and being served by the sheriff officer. This is a document that asks you to pay the debt in full within a specific period of time, usually 14 days.

Depending on the debt you may still have options for coming to an arrangement with the creditor to help prevent further action being taken.

If you’re not sure what to do, we’d recommend contacting us for advice on your options. 

Need advice on dealing with a sheriff officer?

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Can a sheriff officer break into my home?

It's very rare for a sheriff officer to break into your home. This is only possible when instructed by a court order and the method of diligence is an ‘Exceptional attachment of goods’.

You must be given at least 14 days’ notice before the sheriff officer attempts to gain entry. Sheriff officers can remove items immediately or give you notice of when they'll return to remove the items. 

Sheriff officers aren't allowed to enter a property where the only person inside is under the age of 16.  They can’t remove goods either outside or inside your property when there's substantial proof that the goods don’t belong to you.

Help and advice on sheriff officers

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