• What is a Scottish Decree?


What is a Scottish Decree?

Portrait of worried young single mother feeling stressed while working through finances in kitchen late at night, thinking how to pay off debts for rent and domestic bills. Financial problems concept

A Scottish Decree is a legal ruling issued by a Scottish court, which sets out a decision on a civil case. It is enforceable and can have serious consequences for the party against whom it is issued.

Maxine McCreadie
Maxine McCreadie

12th February 2020


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 in Scotland?

In Scotland, sheriff courts are the equivalent of county courts in England and Wales.

If a creditor seeks court action against you over unpaid debts, the court has the power to issue money decrees ordering you to repay money owed.

A decree is the Scottish version of a ‘County Court Judgement’ (CCJ), a money judgment 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.

Failure to pay a decree can result in a visit from a sheriff officer or further legal action, so you should always seek debt advice if you receive one.

How does a decree impact your credit file?

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.

Given that credit reference agencies decide how high, or low, your credit rating should be, being issued with a Scottish decree can have an adverse affect on your credit file.

Having a decree listed on your credit file is an indication that you have had trouble repaying credit in the past, which will make lenders reluctant to let you borrow money in the future.

Once six years has passed, the decree will be removed from your credit report and you will be able to begin rebuilding your credit.

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.

Where can I get free advice and guidance on dealing with a decree?

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 0800 043 1320 or click the button below to be connected to an adviser.

You could write off up to 75% of unsecured debt with our debt assistant.



Maxine McCreadie
Maxine McCreadie

Maxine is an experienced writer, specialising in personal insolvency. With a wealth of experience in the finance industry, she has written extensively on the subject of Individual Voluntary Arrangements, Protected Trust Deed's, and various other debt solutions.

How we reviewed this article:


Our debt experts continually monitor the personal finance and debt industry, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

Current Version

February 12 2020

Written by
Maxine McCreadie

Edited by
Ben McCormack

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