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The sheriff court

The sheriff court hears cases about eviction, tenants who owe their landlord money and small claims. This page contains more information about what you can expect if you have to go to court.

You will not have a criminal record or be at risk of going to prison because you have an eviction or rent arrears case at the sheriff court.

What does a courtroom look like?

All courtrooms are slightly different but have a similar layout. At the very front of the room there is a single chair facing into the room. This is where the sheriff sits. The sheriff clerks sit in front of the sheriff, facing into the room. Everyone else sits facing the sheriff and the clerk.

The people in the courtroom dress formally, and the sheriff and the solicitors wear black gowns.

It is a public court and anyone can sit in the courtroom if they want to watch.

Have a look at the court scene on the Minitrial website to see what a courtroom set up looks like.

What should I bring with me?

You should bring any papers relating to your case, such as:

  • the summons
  • receipts for any recent payments you have made, if your case relates to money that you owe
  • receipts or correspondence for any benefit claims you have made but which have not yet been processed, if your case relates to money that you owe.

What do I do when I arrive?

First, find out which court room you are in. There will be a receptionist you can ask if you cannot see it signposted.

When you get into the courtroom, you should let the sheriff clerk know you are there. Take a seat and wait for the sheriff clerk to call your name. If you have a representative, let them know you are there too.

How long will it take?

Several cases can be scheduled for the same morning or afternoon so you might have to wait a while for your name to be called. You should still arrive before the time stated on your summons though. If you have to arrange a babysitter or carer to look after someone while you are at the court, you should let them know that you might be at the court for a while.

What should I call the sheriff?

You should call the sheriff 'My Lord' or 'My Lady'.

Will I understand what is going on?

A lot of legal words will be used in court. Use our jargonbuster to help you follow what is happening.

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The important points

  • People who work in the courtroom dress formally, and the sheriff and the solicitors wear black gowns.
  • Courts are public and anyone can sit in the courtroom if they want to watch.
  • When attending court you should bring any papers relating to your case.
  • Cases can be scheduled for the same morning or afternoon so you might have to wait a while for your name to be called.

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