Costs of civil court action using simple procedure
The cost of raising a court action using simple procedure depends on the value you are claiming:
- claims £300 or less - £19 fee
- claims over £300 - £106 fee.
If you use a sheriff officer to serve the claim form on the respondent, this will cost £13 plus the sheriff officer's fees.
To appeal a court decision there is a fee of £62.
If you need to find the address of the other party, you will have to pay a small fee to post an advert on the sheriff court website.
Information about other fees can be found on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service website. You can also contact the sheriff clerk’s office for more information.
What these fees cover
The costs of civil action include:
- fees for using the court and any facilities - including staff
- expenses you incur.
You may be able to claim your expenses back depending on the value of the case and who wins. You must ask for these expenses on your original claim form.
When considering your costs, it’s important to think about whether you’re best to:
- use a solicitor - more about using a solicitor
- use a lay representative - more about using a lay representative
- raise and defend the case on your own.
If you raise or defend it yourself, you will be known as a party litigant.
Cost of using a solicitor
Using a solicitor to prepare the case and submit the claim form or defend your case can be expensive. Find out more about the process, cost and benefits of using a solicitor.
You don’t have to use a solicitor for simple procedure. You can choose to represent yourself, have a lay representative or a court supporter. If you represent yourself, make sure you’re familiar with the Simple Procedure rules on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals website.
Who is exempt from court fees
You are exempt from court fees if you or your spouse are getting:
- Income Support
- income-based or New Style Employment and Support Allowance
- Tax Credits
- Universal Credit
- income-based or New Style Jobseeker's Allowance
- certain other benefits with a disability or severe disability element.
You have to apply for this exemption to the sheriff clerk of the court where you’re raising the action at the same time as you’re submitting the claim form. Fee exemption can be applied for through Civil Online or by downloading the Fee Exemption forms and posting or delivering them to the sheriff court.
Claiming back court expenses
If you win your case, you may be able to claim back your expenses from the other party. Expenses will include money you have spent on:
- travelling to court
- time off work
- any required reports for evidence
- funds for witnesses to come
- costs of using a solicitor.
General rules for expenses under simple procedure
Under the simple procedure there are different rules about expenses depending on the value of the claim. As a general rule, court expenses are awarded to the party that succeeds in the claim.
Although simple procedure applies to claims up to £5,000, there are different rules about the expenses that a successful party can claim when the claim is:
- £3,000 or less
- over £3,000 and up to £5,000.
Expenses when claim is £3,000 or less
Under the simple procedure there are special rules that limit the amount of expenses that can be awarded by the court when the case is worth less than £3,000.
The value of the claim below £3,000 is split into three categories with a different rule about awarding expenses for each. If the value of your claim is:
- up to £300 - no expenses can be awarded
- more than £300 but less than or equal to £1,500 - the expenses awarded by the sheriff may not exceed £150
- more than £1,500 but less than or equal to £3,000 - the expenses awarded by the sheriff may not exceed 10% of the value of the claim.
Expenses when claim is over £3,000 and up to £5,000
The court will decide if expenses should be awarded. The sum to be awarded is usually calculated by the sheriff clerk at the end of the case.
The sum awarded will depend on the amount and nature of the work which has been done in the case.
At the conclusion of the final hearing of any case, each party has to tell the court what their expenses are. In some cases, a special hearing may have to be set to discuss expenses in full.
Exceptions to the general rules about expenses
In some cases, full court expenses can be awarded to the successful party. The amount of expenses awarded may depend on the amount and nature of the work done.
The cases that can be treated as exceptions to the general rules about expenses are when:
- the person you took action against hasn’t provided a defence
- the person you took action against did provide a defence but hasn’t continued to use it in the case
- the person you took action against hasn’t acted honourably (for example, has lied) in defending their claim
- the sheriff considers that either your behaviour or the behaviour of the person you took action against has been clearly unreasonable.
Sheriff’s powers to claim back expenses
If the sheriff didn’t make an order about expenses at the same time as making the decision about the case, a hearing can be called.
At the hearing the sheriff can:
- decide not to award any expenses to either party
- make an order that payment is to be made to one party (or the party’s solicitor).
Help with legal costs
Legal aid is the general term for schemes available to help people with the costs of legal advice or representation. The schemes are administered by the Scottish Legal Aid Board.
Two types of legal aid are:
- advice and assistance
- civil legal aid.
There's also special provision for representation in some cases. A solicitor can’t normally represent you in court or at a tribunal under the advice and assistance scheme, except in certain limited circumstances. Find out more about getting advice and assistance.
If you’ve employed a solicitor, they’ll be able to advise you when Assistance By Way of Representation (ABWOR) is possible.
The general rule is that if your claim is:
- below £3,000 - you cannot get legal aid for representation, unless it's for an appeal or a personal injury case. You might be eligible for advice and assistance but not for help with representation under this scheme.
- above £3,000 - legal aid may be available if you're eligible and the case is on the list of eligible case types. Advice and assistance may also be available.
Find out more about getting help with legal costs.