For legal purposes Scotland is split into six regions called Sheriffdoms. Each Sheriffdom has a Sheriff Principal who, in addition to hearing appeals in civil matters, has responsibility for the conduct of the courts.

Within these Sheriffdoms there are a total of forty-nine Sheriff Courts varying in size and design but all serving the same purpose. Most cases are heard before a judge called a Sheriff. The work of the Sheriff Courts can be divided into three main categories, i.e. Civil, Criminal and Commissary, and is administered by local Sheriff Clerks and their staff.

Court locations and contact numbers can be found on the Scottish Court website.

Civil Procedures

The Simple Procedure

The Simple Procedure is a court process designed to provide a speedy, inexpensive and informal way to resolve disputes.  It was introduced on the 28th November 2016 as a result of the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014.

The Simple procedure replaces the small claims procedure and part of the summary cause procedure and has changed some of the court language















 The 5 principles of the simple procedure are:

(1) Cases are to be resolved as quickly as possible, at the least expense to parties and the courts.

(2) The approach of the court to a case is to be as informal as is appropriate, taking into account the nature and complexity of the dispute.

(3) Parties are to be treated even-handedly by the court.

(4) Parties are to be encouraged to settle their disputes by negotiation or alternative dispute resolution and should be able to do so throughout the progress of a case.

(5) Parties should only have to come to court when it is necessary to do so to progress or resolve their dispute.

To view Simple Procedure rules and procedures click here.

The Summary Cause Procedure

The summary cause procedure is still in use in the courts however, if a claimant (pursuer) is raising a monetary claim which has a value of £5,000 or less for payment, delivery or recovery of possession of moveable property, the Simple Procedure should be used.

To view Summary Cause Procedure rules and procedures click here

The Ordinary Cause Procedure

The ordinary procedure has not been changed by the introduction of the Simple Procedure, therefore; it still uses the old language, thus:

The person raising the action is called the Pursuer


The person whom the action is against is called the Defender

Every ordinary cause commences by an Initial Writ which is “warranted” by the sheriff clerk and served on the defender by either a solicitor or a sheriff officer or first class recorded delivery. This is a formal document set out, in terms of the Ordinary Rules

The Ordinary Cause procedure can be used in the sheriff court where the value of the claim is over £5000. It is also the procedure used in the sheriff court for a number of other actions, for example; family actions, including divorce, dissolution of civil partnership, applications for orders relating to children eg. residence and contact. The procedure is quite complex and the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service would therefore advise applicants to seek legal advice.

To view Ordinary Cause Procedure rules and procedures click here