What happens when a creditor takes me to court in Scotland?
March 22, 2017
If a creditor is taking you to court in Scotland, the initial notification will be a writ or summons. This document should include details of your creditor, the amount owed, name of the court, and what the sheriff has been requested to do.
You need to respond by the date specified in the summons or writ, letting the court know your intentions. There are five options in this respect:
- Advise the court that you owe the money, and pay the debt in full.
- Agree that the debt exists, but request a time to pay direction or time to pay order. If one of these is granted, a decree will let you know how much you need to pay.
- Tell the court that you owe the debt, but don’t request a time to pay direction or order – this will result in a decree being issued by the court, ordering you to repay the debt in full, plus any interest and court expenses.
- Advise the court that you do not owe the debt – in this case a court hearing will be set so that both parties can put their case. The court will listen to both sides and then make their decision.
- Do not respond to the writ or summons – if you do not respond at all, the court will issue a decree ordering you to pay the original debt, plus interest and the court’s expenses. Failing to pay at this stage will result in your creditor taking ‘diligence’ measures against you, but initially they have to serve a charge for payment and send you a Debt Advice and Information Package (DAIP).
A charge for payment is an order from the court to pay the sum owed. It gives you 14 days in which to pay in full, or make a payment arrangement with your creditor, otherwise they are entitled to begin diligence measures.
If you don’t pay the debt
If you fail to pay the money, by law your creditor must send you a Debt Advice and Information Package. This will precede enforcement measures to recover the debt. Which form of diligence is used depends on various factors, including the type of debt and your own personal circumstances.
Common measures include:
This is an instruction from the court sent directly to your employer, to deduct a stated amount from your wages at source. They must inform you of the payment schedule, and it will continue until the debt is repaid.
- Bank arrestment
This effectively freezes a specific amount of money in your bank account with a view to repaying your creditor. A minimum sum receives ‘protection’ from bank arrestment, and this is currently £460.06.¹
A sheriff officer will ‘attach’ possessions held outside of your property to the value of the debt – garden tools, bicycles, a vehicle or motorbike, for example. You are not allowed to sell or dispose of these attached items, as they will be sold for the benefit of your creditor.
If the court grants an inhibition order, it means that you cannot sell your property or take any more loans secured against it, even if it is jointly owned. Your creditor, however, does not take control over it and is not allowed to sell it themselves.
If you need more guidance on what to do if a creditor takes you to court, contact one of our experts at Scotland Debt Solutions. We can provide you with professional advice on your legal obligations, and the likely repercussions of your actions. With four offices around Scotland, we offer a same-day appointment free of charge.