Since joining the court department and moving into the second year of my traineeship, changes have been made to Simple Procedure.

Simple Procedure replaced the old Small Claims Procedure and is for claims valued at £5,000 and under.  Our Article of 23rd January 2023 provides more information on how Simple Procedure claims progress and can be found here.

Simple Procedure has been described as anything but simple and the relatively recent changes aim to tidy things up and make the process easier. The procedural rules have been amended since the introduction of Simple Procedure, as have the forms which parties use.

Some of the main changes are:

  • Claim Forms and Response Forms can now be served by e-mail, but only if a party has indicated a willingness to accept such method of service. 
  • Thirteen separate forms have been consolidated into one ‘Additional Orders Application’ where parties can ask the Sheriff to make certain orders.
  • Changes have been made to the Decision Form (or Order of the Sheriff).  A Sheriff can now note the reasons for his/her decision, should he/she feel the need to do so.
  • Claim and Response Forms now include a summary front page, which includes parties’ details.

The intention of the changes was to improve access to justice and iron out initial issues identified with Simple Procedure.  Time will tell whether these changes have simplified the Simple Procedure. The Rules Council intend to carry out a review in the future to establish whether the policy intentions of the changes to Simple Procedure have been met.

From my own experience of dealing with Simple Procedure claims, I have found that different Courts take different approaches. Aberdeen Sheriff Court, in particular, try to resolve issues and make decisions at the Case Management Discussion rather than fixing an Evidential Hearing at the outset, which I understand, some other Courts may do.

A Simple Procedure claim form must be submitted electronically using the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Services civil online portal. If parties are unable to submit their claim electronically, a Sheriff’s approval is required for the claim to be made in paper format.  From my experience, I have found the online portal to be an easy to use form filling exercise. A benefit of the online portal is that it generates the forms to be submitted.

Simple Procedure allows individuals to make and respond to claims themselves. At the end of the day however, it is still a court process and the same burden of proof applies to claims for £500 as it does for claims of £500,000.  Having only recently been exposed to these types of cases, whilst it may be possible for individuals to progress or defend their own claims, the benefits of instructing a solicitor are clear to see.

If you would like more information about our Simple Procedure services, please do not hesitate to contact our Litigation Department on 01224 332400.  We will always aim to provide clear and understandable advice, taking account of the economic factors and risks involved in any litigation, large or small.

Author(s): Rosie Henderson

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