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I recently applied for Simple Procedure (Form 3A) against respondent X at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. (My claim was initiated prior to 31 May 2023.) X did not respond by the deadline. Then I submitted an Application for Decision (Form 7A). As a result the Sheriff Court issued a Decision Form (13A) in early April 2023, ordering X to pay me a sum of money. But X still has not responded.

What are my options now? I looked through the guidelines (especially Part 15) but I'm not sure of the best way to proceed.

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    It all depends on the Sheriff's decision.
    – user35069
    May 24, 2023 at 10:13
  • Check out the "Enforcement" section in this answer.
    – Greendrake
    May 24, 2023 at 10:16
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    Do you know where X is? If you have to find them, that's another question.
    – Stuart F
    May 24, 2023 at 15:31
  • @StuartF yes I have X's address May 24, 2023 at 17:00

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At this point, since it's been more than four weeks since the order was issued, you are able to enforce the order. The delay is just to allow appeals or corrections. It is up to you to arrange enforcement, so at a high level your choices are to do nothing, or to proceed. If you do nothing then you will not get any money. If you proceed then you will spend more money, which you may or may not get back, as with the original sum.

The Scottish procedure is conceptually similar to the English one that is more normally described in online resources, but the words are different. To decode things a bit,

  • You are now trying to proceed with "diligence", which means enforcing the court order. The court itself is not involved, having moved on to other things.
  • There are several ways the money could come to you, such as "arrestment", "attachment" and "inhibition". Or, X might give you the money voluntarily.
  • The next steps must be taken by a "sheriff officer" on your instruction. Despite the name being similar to "sheriff" as in "Sheriff Court", these officers are private practitioners who are licensed by the courts to pursue debtors.

You can use https://smaso.org.uk to find a sheriff officer you like. Most likely you will be able to give them all the information online. Then, they will go ahead with the first step, formally serving a "charge for payment" on X. Then, X has 14 days to come up with the money; if they don't, then the sheriff officer can proceed with more drastic steps. They will be able to advise based on the particular circumstances, but some broad possibilities are "arrestment" of X's money directly from their bank, or "attachment", which is seizure of X's property to be auctioned off. If X is an employed person (rather than a business, say) then you might also arrange "arrestment of earnings" whereby the employer diverts a sum from X's pay to you, for whatever necessary period of time. All these come with their own rules and timescales, including processes if X's bank or employer does not comply.

The sheriff officer will have to be paid for all this. The usual way is that you pay them up-front, and then that fee can be added to the diligence. All officers charge the same rates, but the fee schedule is a bit complicated depending on exactly which services are involved, how long it takes the officer to do the work, and their travel time. It is up to you to make the decisions about how much you want to spend in pursuit of the money, also taking into account the likelihood that you will actually get it. For the sheriff officer, since this is a completely routine part of the job, they will be able to give you their impression of the range of outcomes based on the specifics of X's situation.

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