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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Summary proceedings (Sc): Proceedings taken by a sheriff clerk

Proceedings before a sheriff clerk will normally be conducted relatively informally. Some of the sheriff clerks will however follow the more formal lines of hearings before a sheriff.

A sheriff clerk has wide-ranging powers. As with a sheriff you should always regard the sheriff clerk as right on procedural matters.

The sheriff clerk should be addressed as “sir” or “madam” and the conversation will usually be on a normal person to person basis.

The sheriff clerk will expect you to

  • be polite
  • present the facts of the case, where necessary, in a clear and concise manner
  • produce evidence, when required, such as certificates of debt to prove or support your application for decree
  • listen attentively to points he, or the defendant or the defendant’s representative has to make and, where appropriate, calmly explain your reasons for countering them and
  • answer or clarify to his satisfaction any relevant matters raised in the proceedings.

Whatever the outcome of the hearing once the sheriff clerk has reached a decision it is customary for you to say thank you.

If you do find it necessary to draw the sheriff clerk’s attention to an obvious mistake or oversight, begin by saying “With respect”

Similarly where the sheriff clerk makes any adverse comment or criticism, even although you consider it unjustified, you should accept these remarks gracefully and continue to present the case by starting with the words “With the greatest respect”.