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

This advice applies to Scotland

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).

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 can raise a claim on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals service website using Civil Online or by downloading the paper forms and sending them to the sheriff court.

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals website provides guidance about how to complete and submit the 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.

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