Since lockdown began on 23 March, none of Scotland’s 39 sheriff courts have been processing debt recovery actions. So, what do I mean when I say that we’re "back in business"?
Well, as we have been telling our clients, we’ve always been open to guiding you and suggesting the best solutions during the pandemic. Our unswerving advice has been that if we initiated recovery actions during the lockdown, they would be dealt with on a "first come, first served basis" once the courts re-open. Many of our clients have taken this advice and, indeed, the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service (SCTS) has confirmed that this is how they will be dealt with.
Following the Scottish Government's announcement that we will enter Phase 1 of easing of the lockdown restrictions, the SCTS has confirmed that, as of 29 May, the following will apply:
- All 39 sheriff courts will commence clearing the backlog of cases, to include simple procedure and ordinary cause actions. This will encompass all types of debt actions.
- The courts will be in a position to process new court actions post 29 May. It is likely that these will be dealt with consecutively.
For this purpose, the courts will not be open to the public.
Not all of the courts’ staff will be in attendance and those that are will be observing “social distancing” rules.
What does this mean for you?
Basically, we can now raise court actions for you in the expectation that they will be processed and served by us (issued) to the debtor. And, because we know that the courts will process them chronologically, the sooner we submit them, the quicker you’ll get paid. But, a few words of caution:
We don’t know how long it will take for the backlog to be cleared. There are 39 courts so all of them will be doing their very best to get up to speed – however, because some are better resourced than others, there are bound to be inconsistencies.
Consequentially we don’t know how long it will take for the courts to action the new cases, but what we do know is that there is a determination in the SCTS to “clear the backlog as soon as possible and to get the job done”!
What you should grasp is that you will be further down the line once the court receives the action. And, because all other creditors will also identify this, you should act now. If you delay, you may be at the end of the queue and that could mean that it will take longer for you to get paid, or it could mean that you don’t get paid at all.
Please do not hesitate to contact me directly if you have any questions on any of the above.