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What is simple procedure

This advice applies to Scotland

Simple procedure allows you to apply to civil court to claim money you’re owed by a person or a business. It can also be used by a person or business to get money from you.

It provides an informal and cost-effective way to settle claims worth up to £5,000.

The simple procedure replaced the small claims and summary cause procedures but it still takes place in the sheriff court.

When to use simple procedure

Simple procedure can be used to:

  • force a person or a business to pay money they owe - for example, to collect payment for a loan that's due
  • get compensation if someone breached your legal rights - for example, if they’ve discriminated against you because of your age or sexual orientation 
  • get goods returned or delivered - for example, something you’ve paid for that wasn’t delivered
  • force a person or business to finish work or provide a service you paid for - for example, a building contract you had hasn’t been finished.

Find more information about when to use simple procedure on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals website.

Before you make a claim

If you’re thinking of taking court action using the simple procedure, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example at a Citizens Advice Bureau.

Going to court should be a last resort. So before you start the action, make sure you’ve tried to settle the dispute out of court.

You may start by sending a letter to the person or company that your dispute is with. Another option is to use a form of alternative dispute resolution to solve your consumer problem.

Disputes between private tenants and landlords

If your dispute is about money between tenants and landlords in private tenancies, this may require civil proceedings in the First-tier Tribunal (Housing and Property Chamber).

How to submit a simple procedure case

The Civil Online service allows you to submit simple procedure cases, pay court fees, submit supporting documents and respond to any claim lodged, all online at any time. Using Civil Online, you can track all the actions relating to a case through the online portal. Civil Online is available on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals website.

If you prefer to use paper forms, you can download these, print them off and fill them in. You'll then have to post them or deliver them by hand to the sheriff court. These forms are available on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals websiteFind out more about how to use simple procedure.

How much does simple procedure cost

The fee depends on the amount you're claiming. It also depends on the court that is dealing with your case. Find out more about costs and fees and who is exempt from paying court fees.

How to check which court to apply to

Always check which court or tribunal has to hear your case as you may incur expenses if you apply to the wrong place. Find more information about what court to apply to on or at a Citizens Advice Bureau.

Which sheriff court deals with your case

A claim is normally started nearest to where the person you’re taking action against lives or works.

For consumer cases, for example a claim about a product or service, you can use the court nearest to where the person you’re taking action against lives or works.  However, you can also choose to start the legal action in the court nearest to where you live.

Do you need a solicitor

You don’t have to use a solicitor to take or defend legal action when using simple procedure. However, you can choose to use a solicitor or have a lay representative.

If you decide to use a solicitor, you should check what it might cost first. Find out more about using a solicitor.

Legal aid isn’t available for starting or defending simple procedure cases up to the value of £3,000. However, you may qualify for help with the legal costs of preparing a case under the advice and assistance scheme

If your claim is worth more than £5,000

If your claim is worth more than £5,000, you should consider using a solicitor to take any legal action as the court rules can be complex.

In most cases, a claim for more than £5,000 would fall under ordinary procedure rules. You might be eligible for civil legal aid if you’re on a low income, which means you would get some help with the costs of a solicitor. Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for more help.

More about simple procedure

How to use simple procedure
Costs of civil court action using the simple procedure
Help with the simple procedure claim form
What happens if you are taken to court for money you owe

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