The ‘Simple Procedure’ process was introduced in November 2016 in order to replace the small claims and summary cause actions and provide an efficient, inexpensive and informal way to resolve claims up to a value of £5,000. The rules can be found here and aim to set out a clear process to raising or defending court proceedings.
The rules allow parties to raise an action for the payment of a sum of money, return or delivery or goods or the completion or performance of a service. The Sheriff will then consider both the claim and response and tends to do one of five things:
- Refer parties to alternative dispute resolution and pause the action as a means to take the dispute out of court, minimise expenses and render court action as a last resort;
- Fix a case management discussion which may take place in a courtroom and provides an opportunity for the Sheriff to discuss the claim with the parties, clarify the issues in dispute and raise any concerns;
- Determine the case without a hearing in court by looking at the parties’ statements and documents and issue a decision in writing;
- Award or dismiss the claim because neither party has a stateable case; or
- Fix a hearing where the case cannot be settled out of court and parties will be ordered to attend court with their witnesses – the Sheriff will then consider the witness evidence together with any documents lodged by the parties and decide the case
Although the simple procedure rules have been in practice for over a year, it seems that we are have not yet achieved consistency of interpretation on a court to court basis. In our experience, it also seems that since the commencement of the new simple procedure rules and forms, there has been more confusion than clarity for many party litigants.
We understand that the Scottish Civil Justice Council intend to examine the rules in 2018 in order to address these issues.
If you are involved in a dispute and are considering raising court proceedings in a simple procedure action or if you are defending an action against you we understand that the court process can be daunting especially when faced with court deadlines and a long list of rules to follow. At Jackson Boyd Lawyers, we are more than happy to assist you. We have an experienced team of lawyers who are on hand to answer any questions you may have.
If you require any advice or assistance please contact us online by clicking here or speak to a member of our specialist team on 0333 222 1855.