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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Summary proceedings (Sc): Appearing in court

It is important that you know what to expect and what is expected of you when attending a sheriff court hearing as a pursuer.

You may not feel at ease during your first few visits. You will however gain confidence, as you become familiar with the procedures. Once you start attending court regularly, you will get to know the court staff who are generally most helpful.

The sheriff/sheriff clerk will not expect you to conduct a case in exactly the same way as a professional solicitor as they will know you do not have the same legal qualifications. They will however expect you to be better prepared than an ordinary member of the public attempting to recover a debt on his own.

All sheriff courts operate within the terms of the Sheriff Court Rules but the individual requirements or preferences of each sheriff/sheriff clerk may vary from court to court.

You should adapt your own style to meet those requirements and even if a particular practice has been acceptable in the court for some time previously remember that it may not suit any new or relief official.

When addressing the court avoid giving any impression that you are “representing” or “appearing” on behalf of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

You should always

  • ensure that your appearance is acceptable: do not for example wear a “T” shirt and jeans
  • remain alert throughout the hearing for the mention of any points which, if emphasised by you, might help to convince the court that decree should be granted.