Frequently Asked Questions in Consumer Law

What is the small claim court?
Is there a limit to how much I can claim through a small claim?
How do I raise a small claim?
Are there any fees?
What is the Return Date?
What is a preliminary hearing?
What is a full hearing?
What if the action is undefended?
Can I appeal a decision of the sheriff in a small claims action?
How do I enforce a decree to get the money owed?
I have bought faulty goods, can I get a refund?
How long do I have to cancel an online order?
Can I claim a refund on a delayed flight?

1. What is the small claim court?

The small claims court is a special jurisdiction of the Sheriff Court that allows actions for the recovery of money owed or financial compensation for breach of contract or other legal liabilities.

2. Is there a limit to how much I can claim through a small claim?

Yes, the amount of money which you claim cannot exceed the value of £3000.

3. How do I raise a small claim?

A Small Claims action is commenced by completing a form of Summons (Form 1) available from the sheriff clerk’s office of your local court or downloadable from ( The summons must include your name and address, the name and address of the defender, and a statement of claim which states why the claim is necessary and certain particulars of the claim. There are guidance notes on the Scottish Court Service website which will help you to complete the summons.

The person who is making the claim is known as the pursuer and the person whom the claim is against is known as the defender.

4. Are there any fees?

Currently, the fee to raise a small claims action is £73. However, exemption from payment of the fee is available for those in receipt of certain benefits and guidance on this can be found at If you are successful in your court action, you may be awarded an additional sum to cover the fee.

5. What is the Return Date?

The Return Date is the date by which the defender has to respond to a summons which has been served on them. The defender must send the completed the forms back to the court indicating what they intend to do about the action before this date or they risk a decree being granted immediately against them.

6. What is a preliminary hearing?

A preliminary hearing is held seven days after the Return date and both parties must attend or be represented. At this stage the Defender must state his defence either in front of the sheriff or provide a written statement of it. If the matter cannot be resolved, for example because the sheriff needs to hear evidence from witnesses, it will be continued to a full hearing on a date fixed by the sheriff clerk.

7. What is a full hearing?

This is a hearing on the evidence available, where a defence has been stated the Sheriff will listen to the arguments of both sides and consider the documents a other evidence to reach a decision.

8. What if the action is undefended?

If the action is undefended i.e. the defender does not respond to the court papers, then it is likely that the sheriff will decide in favour of the person bringing the claim (“the Pursuer”). However, this is dependent upon the pursuer submitting a short form to the court asking for the sheriff to do this at least two days before the date of the hearing. Note that if the person pursuing the claim fails to attend court on the hearing date and/or to submit this form 11 (, then the claim will fail automatically. If the defender does not show up a decree in absence can be granted.

9. Can I appeal a decision of the sheriff in a small claims action?

Yes, in theory you can appeal a decision, but you cannot appeal simply because you are unhappy with the decision or because you wish that the Sherriff had decided differently. You can only appeal if you feel that the Sheriff has made a mistake in his interpretation or application of the law in your case. You would be strongly advised to seek legal advice before appealing as this is a complicated procedure and there are severe cost implications associated with an appeal to the Sheriff Principal.

10. How do I enforce a decree to get the money owed?

The defender should pay the sum of money as ordered by the decree. The decree is the formal judgement of the court and will be issued 14 days after the Sheriff decides the case. If the defender refuses to pay, you can engage the services of Sheriff Officers. This is done by directly contacting one of the Sheriff Officers firms which operate in Scotland, details of such companies can be found at

You should note that there are standard fees for engaging the services of sheriff officers and, in addition the sheriff officers will charge additional costs incurred in attempting to obtain payment on your behalf.

11. I have bought faulty goods, can I get a refund?

Yes, you are normally entitled to have a refund if you buy something new and it turns out to be faulty. However, although it may seem obvious, you will not be able to get a refund on goods which you were told had a fault when you bought them. Alternatively, you also have the option to ask for the faulty goods to be replaced. It is very important that you return the goods as soon as possible after you have discovered the fault, since the seller is entitled to refuse to refund you if a reasonable period of time has elapsed. The length of this period will vary depending upon the nature and of the goods.

12. How long do I have to cancel an online order?

You have the right to cancel an on-line order without needing to provide any reason within seven working days starting from the day after you placed the order.

13. Can I claim a refund on a delayed flight?

Yes, you can claim for a refund of the price of the original ticket if the flight was delayed for longer than five hours.

Refund in the event of delay is covered by art. 6 of Regulation (EC) 261/2004 establishing common rules on assistance for passengers in the event of cancelation or long delay of flights. Art. 6 entitles passengers to different levels of assistance depending on the distance which the flight will travel along with the length of the delay. Art. 6(1)(c)(iii) says that when the delay is at least five hours, passengers are entitled to the assistance specified in art. 8(1)(a) which is essentially a refund (in cash and other normal methods), for parts of the journey not yet made, and for parts of the journey which have already been made but no longer serve any purpose in the passenger’s original travel plans. The question in the FAQs was only concerned with refunds, so I left it at that. However, in the case of delayed flights there is also the possibility of return flights and recently in the case law of the CJEU there also seems to be the possibility of compensation for delays.