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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Ordinary Cause: What the sheriff will do at the Options Hearing

The purpose of the Options Hearing is for the sheriff to secure the speediest progress of the case.

Continuation of Options Hearing

The sheriff may allow a continuation of the Options Hearing for a period not exceeding 28 days. A continuation however may only be granted on one occasion only and will only be granted provided that the sheriff is satisfied that a continuation is appropriate.

Note however that whilst the continuation is granted for 28 days where the reason for the continuation is to allow for further adjustment there will in fact be only 14 days in which to make adjustments. The reason for this is because the Ordinary Cause Rules stipulate that adjustments may be made up to 14 days before the Options Hearing or any continuation of it.

Procedure where continuation of Options Hearing not sought

Where neither party seeks a continuation of the Options Hearing the sheriff will close the record. Thereafter there are three options which can be chosen to progress the case. These are:

  1. Proof. - This is a hearing on the evidence and facts.
  2. Proof before answer. - This is a hearing on the evidence and facts which is necessary before legal arguments are heard.
  3. Debate. - This is a hearing on legal arguments.


Because we will have lodged a Rule 22 Note (Note of basis of preliminary plea) for each defended case it will only be option 3 - (a debate) that HMRC will be seeking.