When you’re struggling with debts, you may have come across a decree, and it’s something we’re asked about often. That’s why we thought we’d shed some light on the things you need to know about them.
What is a decree?
A decree is the Scottish version of a ‘County Court Judgement’ (CCJ). It’s a money judgement that’s issued by the sheriff court that orders you to pay a balance you owe that’s been claimed by one of your lenders.
The total amount you’ll need to pay may include added interest and sometimes even court expenses.
A record is kept of all decrees on a public register for six years. It’s held by the Registry Trust, who update the details as required and notify the credit reference agencies when they are issued, dismissed or recalled to allow credit files to be updated.
How is a decree issued?
In order to have a decree issued, the lender in question will need to make a claim through the sheriff court. If the court agrees with them, then you will be sent a claim form and a response form that tells you how much you owe.
You will then have the chance to reply and ask the court for time to pay back the debt in instalments. The deadline for this is usually 21 days.
If you don’t reply, then further action could be taken against you to recover the money.
Asking for extra time to pay
As mentioned above, when a decree is issued to you, you’re allowed to ask for extra time to pay the money back. You can do this either in instalments or in full at a later date.
You can either apply for extra time in writing before the court hearing has taken place or by going to the court to submit the application. If the court agrees they’ll grant an ‘aim to pay’ and you’ll then be given an extract decree. This is essentially a copy of the court order that details how long you have to pay.
If the debt is regulated by the Consumer Credit Act, then you can apply for a time order. This is similar to the above, and allows you to change parts of your debt to be altered, including the amount, the interest rate on the balance owed and the duration.
What happens if I don’t reply to the claim?
If you don’t reply to the claim, then it could be possible to get the decree reversed, or ‘recalled’. However, this is only the case in certain circumstances, such as:
- You didn’t go to the hearing or you weren’t represented at it
- You didn’t send the response form back in time
You can only apply for this after the decree has been granted, and it must be made no more than 14 days after you have been served a charge for payment or action through diligence.
What about if I don’t pay the decree?
If you don’t pay your decree and you aren’t granted extra time, then the lender in question is entitled to then take enforcement action against you.
This can come in a number of forms, such as:
- Your bank account being frozen in a ‘bank arrestment’
- Attachment of earnings, where money is taken directly from your wages
- Agents turning up at your door to take your belongings to be sold towards the debt
How long does a Scottish decree last?
The decree will be noted on your credit file for six years after the judgement date, whether it has been paid or not. However, once it has been paid it should show as satisfied.
You will then be sent a letter of satisfaction from either the lender or their solicitor, explaining that the debt has been paid and you no longer owe any money. It’s then your responsibility to send this to the Registry Trust along with your details to have it updated.
Have you received a decree and are not sure what to do? Our experts can offer you free and confidential advice to help you deal with not just the court but the rest of your debts as well. Contact us today on 0808 2085 195 or click the button below to be connected to an adviser.
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