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Step 10: Going to a Simple Procedure hearing

This advice applies to Scotland

This step applies only to Simple Procedure cases. If you have started your case as an Ordinary Cause action, you should already have a solicitor to represent you. They should receive information from the court, help you prepare for any hearings and advise you of the next steps. 

The hearing

You must attend the hearing. If you don’t turn up, the sheriff might assume you don’t want to continue with your claim and dismiss it. If the respondent doesn’t turn up the sheriff can decide the case at the hearing without them.

You need to turn up in plenty of time and report to the sheriff clerk’s office to find out which courtroom the case will be heard in and to let the court know you’ll be there.

The sheriff may be wearing a wig and robes. You need to address the sheriff politely as My Lord/Lady.

In Simple Procedure the sheriff has discretion about how they want to hear evidence and they’ll tell you how they want evidence to be presented. For example, they might question the witness directly or set a time limit for questioning.

Each side will present their arguments and evidence. You should be prepared to set out the arguments you have prepared and to answer any questions from the sheriff. Both sides will have an opportunity to question each other. You might find these questions difficult to answer or stressful.

Simple procedure is designed to be more informal than most court procedures but you should be polite and calm at all times. Take your time and think carefully about any answers you give. Ask for a few moments to collect your thoughts and look at your notes if you need to.

While your landlord or their representative is talking you should make notes about any of their arguments that aren’t correct and that you have evidence to argue against. If you don't have a legal representative, make sure you ask the sheriff if you don't understand any part of the process or if there is anything particular you want to raise.

The court makes a decision about your Simple Procedure claim

The sheriff has a lot of discretion in Simple Procedure cases to make any decision that resolves the dispute between you and the respondent. The main decisions they might make are to:

  • find your claim is valid and order the respondent to pay you all or some of the compensation you’ve asked for

  • find your claim is valid and order the respondent to do something for you, like make a reasonable adjustment for your disability

  • dismiss your claim (or part of the claim)

  • absolve the respondent of the claim (or part of the claim) - this means that you can’t make a claim about the same subject against the respondent again.

The sheriff might make the decision on the day of the hearing or in writing afterwards (usually within 4 weeks of the hearing). Whenever the sheriff makes the decision, they should also give reasons for their decision.

You'll get a letter telling you what the decision of the court is - this is called a ‘decision form’ or an ‘extract decree’. The sheriff might award you less compensation than you asked for.

If the court awards you compensation you probably won’t get the money right away. The respondent might ask for Time to Pay, for example.

Under Part 15 of the Simple Procedure rules, if they don’t pay, you can get a sheriff officer to serve them with a written demand for payment, known as a 'charge'. The charge gives them a last chance to pay within a set time (2 weeks if they're in the UK). You’ll have to pay a fee to the sheriff officer. 

If they still don't pay, you can get a sheriff officer to take further action to get the money, like taking money from their earnings or taking money or belongings they have. 

If you're not happy with what the court decides

If you're not happy with how the sheriff decides the case, you can appeal to the Sheriff Appeal Court but only on a point of law. This means that the sheriff didn’t apply a legal rule in the right way.

You must appeal within 28 days of the decision letter being sent to you. To identify a point of law you should get advice from a lawyer. You can get help with legal costs for an appeal under the simple procedure if your case is likely to succeed.

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