Check If You Qualify

Personal Debt – What action can your creditors take against you?

Sharon McDougall - Updated - 14th May 2024 - 4 minutes to read

If you’re struggling to repay personal debt, it’s important that you know the steps that creditors can take to recover their money. It will help you prepare for the inevitable threatening letters, and more serious enforcement measures a creditor might take.

Enforcement action in Scotland is known as ‘diligence.’ One of the main aspects of enforcement is that the creditor must obtain the correct authority to undertake these actions, and this is generally provided by the courts in the form of summary warrants and court orders.

But what is the first communication from your creditor likely to be?

Default Notice

After three or more missed payments, a default notice will be sent if the debt is regulated by the Consumer Credit Act (CCA). This tells you how much you need to pay, the payment deadline (you must be given a minimum of 14 days to pay under CCA rules), and what will happen if you don’t make the payment.

Scotland Debt Calculator

Get a rough indication of what your repayments might be under each of our different debt solutions.

Your Total Debt

£0 - £5,000

£5,000 - £10,000

£10,000 - £20,000


Your Employment Status

I am employed

I am self-employed

I am unemployed

I am a student

I am retired

Your Total Monthly Income

£0 - £1,000

£1,000 - £2,000

£2,000 - £3,000


What can you pay monthly towards your debt?

£0 - £100

£100 - £200

£200 - £300


Initial Writ and Decree

Civil proceedings in the sheriff court are generally started by way of a ‘simple procedure notice of claim’ (debts up to £5,000), or an initial writ (debts over £5,000). If you inform the court that you owe the debt but don’t make a payment, the court will issue a decree, similar to a County Court Judgement (CCJ) in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, which remains on your credit file for six years.

21-day Statutory Demand

These are generally used by creditors who are owed larger amounts of money, and may be sent if they intend to make you bankrupt (known as sequestration in Scotland).

Summary Warrant and fast track procedures

Creditors are able to recover some types of debt using a fast track procedure that begins with a summary warrant. This method is commonly used by HMRC and local authorities for debts including National Insurance, income tax, council tax, and road tax. For council tax debts, you should be offered more time to pay.

Charge to Pay and Charge for Payment

You are given 14 days in which to pay the debt, either via a charge to pay which is generally used for debts up to £5,000, or a charge for payment for debts over £5,000. If you don’t pay, your creditor can take further enforcement action using the following measures, as long as they have also sent you a Debt Information and Advice Package (DAIP).

Which Diligence measures can be used?

These might include one or more of the following:

Your employer is ordered by the court to deduct a proportion of your income to repay the debt over a period of time. There are strict regulations regarding how much money can be arrested in this way, and for dealing with a situation where more than one creditor has been granted an arrestment of earnings order.

Another factor to bear in mind with an arrestment of earnings is that your employment status may be in jeopardy. Some industries, including financial and legal, do not allow their employees to be in debt – a clause that should be incorporated into the terms and conditions of your employment contract.

Bank arrestment involves freezing a proportion of money in your bank account with a view to repaying your debt. The amount frozen is strictly regulated by law, and you must retain access to a certain amount – currently £494.01.

This amount covers all your bank accounts if they are held with the same bank, but if you have accounts at different banks, you can retain free use of £494.01 in each account. Bear in mind, however, that it isn’t always obvious which banks are part of a wider banking group.

Your creditor may apply to the courts for an Inhibition Order. This protects the value of your home, so that if you sell it, the creditor receives payment of their debt from the proceeds. Creditors have no rights to force a sale, however, and an Inhibition Order can remain in place for up to five years.

Only non-essential items outside your home can be seized using an attachment order. Sheriff officers are usually involved at this point, and can seize certain items for sale to repay some or all of your debt.

An exceptional attachment order allows the seizure of some non-essential items from inside your home, but this is often a measure of last resort for a creditor.

If you’re worried about enforcement action being taken against you, our experts at Scotland Debt Solutions can help. We operate from five offices around Scotland, and can arrange a confidential meeting free-of-charge.

facebook colour icon twitter colour icon linkedin colour icon messenger colour icon whatsapp colour icon email colour icon
Sharon McDougall Square

Sharon McDougall


Other Articles

Can I borrow money whilst I’m in a Trust Deed? Can I Borrow Money

Can I borrow money whilst I’m in a Trust Deed?

Borrowing money when you’re already deeply in debt requires careful consideration, and consultation with your trustee, as there are various factors associated with further borrowing in this situatio...

Your guide to getting a mortgage after a Trust Deed Guide to get a mortgage

Your guide to getting a mortgage after a Trust Deed

If you’re about to be discharged from a Trust Deed, you may be wondering to what extent your ability to obtain a mortgage has been affected.

What is an inhibition court order in Scotland? Court Order

What is an inhibition court order in Scotland?

If you’ve lost your job, state benefits and tax credits can provide vital financial support to see you through this tough time and help you avoid taking on too much debt while you look for more work...


Why Choose Us

Usp Discussion

Speak Direct With

A Qualified Adviser


We Don't Operate

Call Centres

Usp Location

5 Offices in Scotland

National Coverage

Usp House

Ask us About

Home Visits

Usp Award

Fully Regulated Advisors

From a Reputable Firm

Usp Hand Heart

Helping Scots Get

Out of Debt Since 1989

We'll give you a call

Our Scottish based team can help advise you on your debt problems.

Here at Scotland Debt Solutions we take your privacy seriously and will only use your personal information to contact you with regards to your enquiry. We will not use your information for marketing purposes. See our Privacy Policy.


Useful Tools

Personalised Debt Report
Usp Planner

Personalised Debt Report

Our personalised debt report will help you better understand your financial position and see where your money is going.

Debt Report
Instant Scheduled Call & WhatsApp

Instant Scheduled Call & WhatsApp

Arrange a call with an expert advisor at a time to suit you or contact our team via WhatsApp for immediate help and advice.

Arrange Callback
Find a Local Office
Usp Signpost

Find a Local Office

We have five offices located across Scotland. Find your nearest one here.

Find an Office


We can help you with...



Sequestration is the Scottish version of bankruptcy and may be suitable for you if you do not have the money to pay back your debts

Find out More
Trust Deeds in Scotland

Trust Deeds in Scotland

A Trust Deed involves making a monthly contribution to your debts for up to four years. After this time any remaining debt included in the Trust Deed will not need to be paid.

Find out More
Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS)

Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS)

A Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS) lets you pay off your debt through a series of manageable instalments over a reasonable length of time.

Find out More
Business Debts
Icon Briefcase

Business Debts

Whether you are a sole trader or a limited company director, we can help you work through your current financial problems including money owed to HMRC

Business Debts

Our Insolvency Practitioners are regulated by ICAS or the IPA and our firm is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority

Fees and Information: There are fees associated with our services. These will be fully explained before entering into any of the personal debt solutions referred to on this website. Full details of our fees and how these are charged are fully explained to you prior to you committing to any particular service.

ICAS Insolvency Practitioners