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The sheriff court

The sheriff court hears cases about repossessions, debts and small claims. This page contains more information about the power of the sheriff court and what you can expect if you have to go to court because your home is threatened with repossession.

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

Do I have to go to court?

If you have a case at court you may not need to go yourself, but if you are not going, someone must attend on your behalf or the sheriff is very likely to grant an order allowing your lender to repossess your home.

Who can represent me?

If you want to argue against your lender repossessing your property you will have to go to court yourself or be represented by a solicitor or lay representative.

You will have to pay for a solicitor to represent you, unless you are entitled to legal aid - it's worth checking to see if you are.

If you don't qualify for legal aid then a lay representative may be able able to appear at court for you for free. Contact the Scottish Legal Aid Board or Citizens Advice for more information on lay representatives.

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.

What should I bring with me?

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

  • the initial writ and section 24 notice
  • receipts for any recent payments you have made towards your mortgage arrears
  • receipts or correspondence for any benefit claims you have made but which have not yet been processed.

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 that you are there. Take a seat and wait for the sheriff clerk to call your name. If you have a representative, let them know that 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.

Where can I find out more?

The section on court procedures has lots of useful information about going to court, including what to wear and who's who in the court room.

Scotland map Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.
This content applies to Scotland only.
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The important points

  • If you go to the sheriff court for a repossession case you will not get a criminal record or be at risk of going to prison.
  • You will need to be represented, either by a solicitor or lay representative.
  • On the day you'll need to bring the initial writ and section 24 notice, receipts for payments you've made and paperwork for benefits that haven't been processed yet.
  • You should address the sheriff as My Lord or My Lady.

If you're still looking for help, try searching, or find out how to contact us

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