What to do if someone owes you money or compensation for faulty goods or services

This advice applies to Scotland. See advice for See advice for England, See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Wales

When someone owes you money or compensation for faulty goods or services the action you should take depends on how much money is owed or how much the goods or services are worth.

When the value of what you are claiming is below £5,000 and the case is not complex you can use the simple procedure. You can use this procedure without having to employ a solicitor. The most common types of claim are:

  • compensation for faulty services, for example by builders, dry cleaners, garages

  • compensation for faulty goods, for example consumer goods like televisions or, washing machines which break down

  • disputes between landlords and tenants, for instance, rent arrears or compensation for not doing repairs

  • wages owed or money in lieu of notice.

If your claim is within the financial limits for the simple procedure but legally complicated, because it is hard to get evidence to prove your case, you may have to use different court procedures for which a solicitor will normally be required.

If you have a legally complicated case you should see an experienced adviser. If your claim is worth more than £5,000 it is advisable to use a solicitor to take any legal action. A solicitor may help you to solve the problem without going to court by using some form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Find out more about alternative dispute resolution.

Before applying to the court

You should not use the court to try to settle a claim if there are other ways of settling it first. For example, if a television doesn’t work, there is no point in applying to the court immediately for compensation. You must contact the shop which sold you it first to try to solve the problem. If you cannot get the problem solved by negotiation then you can make a claim in court.

Which court deals with the case

A claim in a consumer case can usually be made using the simple procedure in the sheriff court nearest to where you live. You could use the sheriff court in the area where the trader has its business, but if this is elsewhere in the UK it may not be convenient. You can ask the court nearest to where you live to check if it is the right court. Sheriff courts are listed in the 'Courts and Tribunals Locations' box on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals service website.

What happens when you raise a claim under the simple procedure

You should use Civil Online to complete your simple procedure application and make your claim. You can find Civil Online on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals website.

If you can’t apply using Civil Online, you can ask to use a paper form. You have to include a note for the sheriff with the paper form explaining why you can't use Civil Online. The sheriff will decide if you have a good reason. You might have a good reason if you:

  • don’t have a personal laptop, computer, tablet or smartphone

  • have very poor bandwidth or limited access to the internet

  • are disabled and can’t use online forms

  • have limited ability to follow the form and you need help to complete it.

You can download and print off form 3A on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals website. Then you can either post it or hand-deliver it to the sheriff court. You will have to make two copies and pay a fee, unless you’re exempt. 

If you’re not sure how to complete the form, check  the guidance on filling in the simple procedure claim form.

If the details of the case are complicated or you are worried about filling in the form you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.

You can find out more about how to submit a claim and what happens next on What is simple procedure and How to use simple procedure.

What it will cost

The simple procedure is designed to be a quick, low cost procedure. If you start a claim, you will have to pay a court fee. There will also be a charge to pay if the claim form is 'served' by a sheriff officer.

The sheriff clerk can advise you of current court fees. You can also check fee rates on Costs of civil court action using the simple procedure and on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service website.