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Court Reform in Scotland and the Impact on Debt Recovery

The Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 will be implemented during 2015 through a phased introduction; with the first reforms expected to be put into place from July 2015.

These reforms will have an impact on debt recovery litigation in Scotland in the following ways:

 

  1. Monetary limits of Sheriff Court Actions

One of the main changes the Act brings is to increase the powers of the Sheriff Courts (the Scottish equivalent to the County Courts in England and Wales) by significantly increasing the threshold amount for cases to be heard at the Sheriff Courts from £5,000 to £100,000. This means that ‘lower value’ claims will now be heard in the Sheriff Courts rather than in the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

 

  1. Summary Sheriffs

The new role of a Summary Sheriff is to be created and the process for the appointments of the first Summary Sheriffs is due to begin by July 2015.

A Summary Sheriff will share the jurisdiction and powers of a Sheriff but will hear only low value civil cases as well as summary criminal matters.

 

  1. Simple Procedure

Simple Procedure will replace Small Claims and Summary Cause procedure in the Sheriff Courts and is expected to be introduced in early 2016 and will deal with court actions seeking payment of up to £5,000.

A Simple Procedure case will be conducted before a Sheriff or Summary Sheriff and while the specific rules that apply to such proceedings have yet to be drafted the intention of the Act is to simplify matters for cases of a lower value and reduce the costs involved in such actions.

 

  1. Pre-Action Protocols

The Act gives power to the Courts to introduce compulsory pre-action protocols to encourage the settlement of disputes and avoid the need to bring proceedings or to mitigate the length and complexity of proceedings

 

How De Vere Intellica can assist you with debt recovery matters in Scotland

  • We can locate current addresses for debtors
  • Asset searches on debtors based in Scotland can be provided (which as standard include a Scottish property ownership search)
  • We can serve documents in Scotland on a set fee basis
  • On-the-ground enquiries can be undertaken in Scotland

The Hague Convention and International Process Serving

Do you need legal documents serving overseas? Find out how the Hague Service Convention can be of assistance.

Summary

  • The Hague Convention sets out the rules on serving documents in a jurisdiction other than the one in which the documents were issued, for example serving an English Divorce Petition in France or serving a Summons issued by a US Court in the UK.
  • The rules state that any legal document requiring service must be served in line with the laws and guidelines of the country in which service is to take place, for example English Divorce Papers served in France would need to be served in line with French law while a US Summons to be served in the UK would need to be served in line with British laws.

What is the Hague Convention?

The Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters otherwise known as The Hague Service Convention was ratified on 10 December 1965 in Hague, Netherlands. The Hague Service Convention provides the framework for the serving of legal documents in civil and commercial matters upon individuals who are overseas.

Hague Service Commission

The Hague Service Convention is a multilateral treaty that has been ratified by 68 signatories which includes the United Kingdom, United States of America as well as countries in Europe, the Commonwealth and Latin America. This means that if you want to serve judicial documents such as a divorce petition to a respondent who resides in a country which is also a member of The Hague Service Convention, it is not necessary to make a formal request in the form of a letter rogatory to a foreign court in the jurisdiction of the respondent to serve the divorce petition.

Letter rogatory

A letter rogatory or a letter of request is a procedure whereby a foreign court is requested to provide judicial assistance. In the remit of process serving, the judicial assistance will be in the form of serving documents upon an individual within the court’s jurisdiction. The key limitation of a letter rogatory is that formal requests have to pass through diplomatic channels before reaching the foreign court which can lead to undue delay. The Hague Service Convention aims to reduce bureaucracy by providing ‘one main channel for transmission’ of legal documents through the Central Authority of the requested State. In England and Wales, the Central Authority is located at the Royal Courts of Justice and documents would need to be written or translated into the English language.

The Hague Convention has paved the way for the straightforward and expedient service of legal documents between signatory states by strengthening mutual judicial assistance. However, signatory states have reserved the right to impose restrictions on the implementation of the Hague Convention. For example, under the law of England and Wales, a British process server does not fall within the meaning of a “competent person” under Article 10 Hague Service Convention. Therefore, a ruling of ineffective service may be held by an American court if a private process server was used to affect service on the addressee of the judicial document in Great Britain. In 2003, the UK confirmed this position and stated a clear preference for direct service on residents of England and Wales being effected through a solicitor in this jurisdiction. What is not clearly stated is what means the English solicitor may use to serve the documents in question.

 

Why Use De Vere Intellica

  • We have extensive experience of serving legal papers in the UK on behalf of clients based elsewhere in the world.
  • We often arrange for service to take place outside the UK on behalf of our UK clients. To ensure “good service” takes place we have a network of trusted agents worldwide who are able to ensure service is completed in line with the Hague Convention and can provide suitable evidence of service.

 

Should you be dealing with a matter which requires (British) legal documents be served abroad or if you require non-UK documents to be served in the UK please do not hesitate to contact us – we are happy to explain the process and provide a quote, both for standard and urgent matters.

The Electoral Roll

We have all added our names to the Electoral Roll and know that you must be registered to be able to vote in elections; however there is more to it than that…

Who can register to Vote? A UK citizen; a qualifying Commonwealth citizen; a citizen of the Irish Republic; a citizen of the EU (however EU citizens from countries other than Ireland, Malta and Cyprus are not entitled to vote in UK parliamentary elections but can vote in European parliamentary, local council and mayoral and London  Assembly elections). You must be 16 to be included on the Electoral Roll.

What happens if you don’t register? If you are eligible to vote you must register if asked to. If you do not register you will be fined £80.

Can you register in more than one place? It is sometimes possible to register at 2 addresses although you can only vote once in any election. To be registered at two different addresses you must complete the registration form for both addresses and the Electoral Registration Office will look at each application and decide whether it is appropriate for the person to be registered at both addresses – an example of when it would be allowed is for a student with a term-time address as well as a home address.

The way to register has recently changed – until recently only one person in each household was required to register everyone in that household however it is now a requirement that each individual must register independently

There are two versions of the Voters Roll in existence – the Electoral Register and the Open Register. Both registers are compiled using information from the public but the availability of the information and the ability to access the information is different:

Electoral Register – lists the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote and is used for electoral purposes and other limited purposes as specified in law e.g. detecting crime, calling people for jury service and checking credit applications

Open Register – This is extracted from the Electoral Register and can be purchased by any person, company or organisation.

Everyone’s details are included on the Electoral Register and will be included on the Open Register unless the person contacts his/ her local Electoral Registration Office and requests to be removed from the Open Register.

Being included on the Electoral Roll is essential in order to be able to vote in elections; however it is also important for the following reasons:

  • It is used by credit reference agencies to check your name and address if you are applying for credit. If you are not on the Register you may not be able to obtain credit, a mortgage or a mobile phone contract
  • Schools may use the Register to check that applicants for school places reside in the catchment area
  • Councils check the register when allocating residents’ parking permits.

What is a Process Server

A Process Server is an individual who serves (delivers) legal documents and provides evidence that the documents were served in accordance with statutory requirements and/or the requirements imposed by the Court in which a case is being heard. A good knowledge of the law and legal processes is necessary in order to ensure that documents are appropriately served.

The evidence produced after service is usually referred to as a Statement of Service and will include all relevant details, including but not limited to the date and time of service, the location of service and the confirmation of subject identity.

With legal documents that require personal service, once the individual has been handed the documents, and been made aware service is taking place, service is complete regardless of what the individual does with the documents. On occasions where subjects refuse to take the documents or attempt to return them, this will usually be deemed as ‘good service’ as long as the relevant information is accurately detailed in the Statement of Service.

Not all legal documents require personal service some can be served by inserting them through the letterbox at a confirmed address for the subject of service. In these cases the Process Server will first establish that the subject is known at the address by either speaking to the current resident (if that person is not the subject) or making enquiries with neighbours. Once it has been confirmed that the subject will receive the legal documents they are left at the address. The Process Server can provide a Statement of Service outlining details of the serve including the proof of residence obtained (if necessary).

Legal documents can be served on a company as well as an individual. When a company is to be served the Process Server will follow the relevant legal guidelines which in relation to most documents require that service takes place at the Company’s registered office. A Process Server will attend the registered office and serve the documents, taking the details of the individual who accepted service or will leave the document in a prevalent place if no director or officer of the company is available. Details will then be provided, if required, in a Statement of Service.

Process Servers can be called as witnesses in court cases to confirm details of the service and to confirm that the documents were served on the correct individual (often the defendant of a case).

A vital part of justice is the right for a party to know of legal proceedings involving them; as such Process Servers play a fundamental role ensuring the correct information is provided to the relevant parties within required timeframes.