A decree is publicly recorded on the Registry Trust and will remain on an individual’s credit file for six years from the original judgment date, whether the balance has been paid or not.
This information only applies in Scotland.
When someone defaults on a payment (eg they fail to pay an invoice or bill) the company or individual which is owed money (the creditor) may decide to seek a county court judgment (CCJ) against the person who owes them money (the debtor) as a way of claiming the money owed. In Scotland, a CCJ is referred to as a decree and is issued by the Sheriff Courts.
What is a decree?
What is the process for decrees?
The Scottish courts will serve a Charge for Payment on the debtor. This is a formal demand for payment served by a sheriff officer (a Scottish bailiff). This gives the debtor 14 days to pay the debt. If payment is not made within 14 days then the creditor can enforce the decree using a variety of enforcement methods. The enforcement of debt following court action is called diligence.
Methods of diligence include:
earnings arrestment (ie regular deductions from your wages)
bank arrestment (ie the freezing of funds in your bank account)
attachment (a sheriff officer can ‘attach’ - ie take possession of - certain items outside your home, for example, a garage or shed).
What are the options for responding to a decree?
How you respond to a decree depends on the type of case:
simple procedure (if your case is worth less than £5,000 and isn’t compex)
ordinary cause (if your case is worth more than £5,000 or is complicated)
For both procedures, you can either pay the amount in full or dispute it.
For more information, read Small claims court in Scotland.
How can a claim be disputed?
An appeal against the court decision can be made to the Sheriff Appeal Court within 14 days. There is a fee payable to register the appeal but legal aid may be available for an appeal against a decision under the simple procedure.
If a dispute fails, a decree will be recorded in the Register.
Time to pay
If you admit the claim against you, you may ask for time to pay the money. You should apply for this when responding to the claim.
Even if you don’t respond in time and a decree is granted, you can still apply for time to pay if the claim is less than £5,000.
If you have not asked for time to pay within the time limits, or the sheriff has refused your application, you also might be able to negotiate payment instalments with your creditors.
Note that if a court grants you time to pay, that specific creditor cannot take further action against you, provided that you continue making the agreed payments.
How is a decree removed from the register?
As with a CCJ, a decree will remain on your credit file for six years from the original judgment date, whether the balance has been paid or not. Once the decree is paid it should show as satisfied on your credit file.
decrees can only be removed from the Register if they are:
recalled by the court
entered in error
paid in full within one calendar month of the date of the decree
You can apply for the Register to be updated by sending the original documents and proof of payment to the Registry Trust.