What Is the Simple Procedure Process?
Being involved in a financial dispute with someone can get awkward and frustrating.
You’ve paid £500 for driving lessons, and your instructor has ghosted you. No response, nothing. You’ve tried being civil, but it seems like your money is lost. What action can you take?
An aggressive Facebook message? Do you need to get expensive lawyers involved?
Thankfully not. Instead, you can use something called a simple procedure claim. We’re going to explain precisely what this means and run you through exactly how the process works.
What does Simple Procedure mean?
The simple procedure process is designed to help people resolve minor disputes quickly, cheaply, and in a (relatively) informal way. As of 2016, the small claims procedure has been replaced with the new simple procedure process.
This simple procedure process involves someone making a claim against someone (the respondent). The final decision is then made by a sheriff (or summary sheriff).
A benefit of simple procedure is that there’s no requirement to hire expensive solicitors, and can be done on your own if you’d like.
It’s important to note that a simple procedure claim needs to have a monetary value. For instance, if someone owes you a service, you can make a claim asking this person to complete the service or alternatively, pay you a monetary value.
What can I make a claim on?
The simple procedure process is for relatively minor disputes and isn’t intended for vast amounts of money being owed.
It’s important your claim is in line with the simple procedure rules. Here are some things you could make a simple procedure claim on:
A payment of £5000 or less.
For delivery/recovery of possession of the movable property, but only where there is an alternative claim for payment for a sum of money of £5000 or less.
For an order to make someone do something specific, but only where there is an alternative claim for payment of a sum of money of £5000 or less.
For instance, imagine you paid up-front for work to be done in your house, and it wasn’t completed. You’ve contacted them multiple times and tried to resolve the situation.
The contractor is either refusing to complete the work or just isn’t responding. This is the perfect situation for a small claim procedure.
If your case is deemed strong, then the simple procedure actions will require that the contractor either complete the work or pay you what you’re owed (assuming its £5000 or less.)
I’m owed more than £5000… what do I do?
If you’re owed a substantial amount of money, you’ll need to go through the ordinary cause procedure.
This is a substantially more complicated claim, and it’s highly recommended you seek some legal advice. If you find yourself in this situation, get in touch with one of our advisors for assistance.
How do I make a claim?
It’s important to note that going to court is an absolute last resort. You need to provide evidence that you’ve tried to settle your dispute without the help of the Scottish court.
If you decide to press forward with making a claim, and you’ve double-checked it’s valid, here are the steps involved:
- You (the claimant) submit a claim form (form 3A) online. Alternatively, you can print it off and take it to the sheriff court.
- The Sheriff Clerk checks and registers the claim form, and then issues a timetable for the case.
- The claim form is formally served on the respondent, either by the sheriff clerk/officer or a solicitor.
Do I need to pay a fee?
Unfortunately, yes! You’ll need to pay a small fee to have the court look at your simple procedure case.
Here’s a run-down of all fees associated with the small claims procedure:
- To lodge a summons for a summary cause/claim form for sums of money of £300 or less, you’ll pay a fee of £19.
- For anything above this up to £5000, you’ll need to pay £104.
- To make an appeal, you’ll need to pay £61.
- For the sheriff officer to serve a claim form, you’ll need to pay £13 plus whatever the sheriff officer’s fee is.
As you can see, appealing to the simple procedure claims court can cost you a pretty penny. As such, it’s important to be confident that your claim will be successful, and do all you can to resolve the dispute without the help of court action.
How do you complete the form?
You need to have the following information and include it on the claim form:
- The identity of the respondent. You also need to know their address and specify whether this is an individual or a company.
- You (the claimants) identity and address. Hopefully, this is self-explanatory!
- The factual background of the dispute. It’s essential that you keep this to-the-point, and don’t get overly emotional – this doesn’t help your case. Write clearly and concisely.
- What you want to achieve from a successful claim: i.e. your £500 back.
- Your argument for why the claim ought to succeed.
- What steps you have taken to try and resolve the dispute with the respondent.
The outcome of your claim depends on the strength of the evidence and your argument.
When will I find out a decision?
After submitting your form, the sheriff will send you a timetable. This sets out deadlines for the case, such as the last date for a response. This is the latest point that the respondent can respond to your claim.
This can be changed with good cause, either by you, the respondent, or the sheriff clerk.
There will also be an explanation of the court process, which explains how they came to their conclusion.
I’ve received a claim, what do I do?
You’ll know when someone has made a claim against you because you’ll receive a lovely claim form in the post!
Alongside the claim form will be a response form (known as Form 4A). This will typically arrive without much drama in the post. However, you may receive it directly from a sheriff officer in some circumstances.
Don’t panic if this happens. A sheriff officer has the legal right to enter your home only with evidence of the court’s permission. You should always ask for identification from the sheriff officer.
The response form gives you options to respond in one of the following ways:
Dispute the claim: This option lets you deny that you’ve done anything wrong. If you select this option, you’ll need to provide substantial evidence and a sound argument for why the claim is invalid. If you’re unsuccessful, then you’ll need to complete the written orders that the court rules you’re required to do.
Admit liability for the claim: If you select this option, you have two options. You can opt to pay the money asked for before the last date for a response (detailed on the claim form). Alternatively, you can ask the court for more time to pay what you owe. If you don’t pay it right now, you could be asked for financial evidence to show that you can’t – so don’t chance it if you actually can afford it!
The Scottish simple procedure process is intended to be a simple way for people to solve relatively minor disputes. That being said, you must explore every alternative dispute resolution possibility before going to the simple procedure court. It’s an absolute last resort!
This claims process is for claims that have a cash compensation of less than £5000. Anything more than this will, unfortunately, need to go through the ordinary claims court procedure.
A simple procedure can be completed without legal help. However, we recommend that you seek some legal aid to make sure your claim will be successful. This also applies if you’ve received a claim and you want to dispute it.
Our advisors are here to guide you through exactly what you need to do to build a successful simple procedure claim. Get in touch here or call us on 0141 483 7477.