Debts in Scotland – What is a decree?

September 13, 2016

A decree is a ‘money judgement’ issued by the sheriff courts in Scotland, and is the same as a County Court Judgement (CCJ) in England and Wales. It is an order to pay the amount claimed by a creditor, and the total may include additional interest and expenses of the court.

Details of all small claims and summary cause money decrees are kept within a public register held by the Registry Trust for a period of six years, and the details updated as necessary.

The Registry Trust also notifies the credit reference agencies when a decree is issued, recalled or dismissed, so the debtor’s credit file can be amended with each agency.

What can you do to prevent a decree being issued?

If you are experiencing threats of legal action by your creditors, there are certain steps you can take to protect yourself from a money judgement being issued against you.

The obvious solution if you are not disputing the debt is to pay what is owed, but this isn’t always possible when you are experiencing financial difficulty.

Extra time to pay

You are entitled to request additional time to pay the sum claimed, either by instalments or in a deferred lump sum. This can be done in writing before the court hearing, or by attending court in person to make the application.

If a time to pay direction is granted you will receive an extract decree, which is a copy of the court order detailing the timescale in which you should pay.

If the debt in question is regulated by the Consumer Credit Act, 1974, you can apply for a time order. This is similar in nature to a time to pay direction, and allows several elements of your loan to be adjusted including the repayment amount, duration of the loan, and the interest rate applied to the outstanding amount.

Ignoring the court summons

Choosing to ignore the court summons will probably result in a decree being issued against you, with the ensuing adverse effect on your credit rating.

The three main credit reference agencies will be notified, with details of the decree remaining on your credit file for six years. This makes it difficult for you to obtain credit and other forms of borrowing, and can even impact on your job in some cases.

Enforcement action by the creditor

Failing to pay the decree and not receiving extra time to pay will mean your creditor has the right to take enforcement action. This can include a variety of measures:

  • Attachment: bailiffs can ‘attach’ some items kept outside of the home in lieu of monetary payment, with a view to selling them at auction
  • Earnings arrestment: payments are taken from your wages at source
  • Bank arrestment: money in your bank account is frozen


Scotland Debt Solutions can help if you are facing creditor legal action. We offer a same-day meeting to discuss your situation and find the best way forward. Call one of our expert team to discuss your needs.

John Baird

Insolvency Adviser

Tel: 0800 063 9250

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