Stephen Cowan Examines Changes to Court Procedures in Scotland when Recovering Debts
ON the 28 November 2016, Scotland’s court procedure to recover debts of less than £5,000 was radically altered. The old Summary Cause and Small Claims procedure has been swept away by new, more simple rules, with unrepresented litigants in mind. The new rules will allow the Sheriff to ‘take an interventionist approach to identify the issues, assist parties to settle if possible, and to determine how the case progresses.’
A relatively quick and inexpensive way of recovering cash from a slow paying limited company is the use of the statutory demand for payment. Many creditors prefer this to taking court action which is perceived as being both slow and costly.
Regular readers may remember the Cavendish Square Parking Litigation (Cavendish Square Holding BV  UKSC 67)
ParkingEye charged £85 on an individual, Mr Beavis, for overstaying a two-hour permitted period of free parking at a retail park in Chelmsford. The Court of Appeal (in agreement with the High Court decision) rejected an argument that the charge was penal.
If I were to mention the term ‘Summary diligence’ most of you would attempt to stifle a yawn. But if I were to say that ‘summary diligence’ could avoid you in having to take court action to recover a debt because it’s the equivalent of a court’s decree then wouldn’t you sit up and listen?
Have you, like me, sat through courses on telephone collections? How many times has the course leader emphasised that we must have empathy with the customer. After all if you make “friends” with the customer you’ll be able to establish a rapport and gather information the net effect of which will improve recovery rates. All techniques we’ve been taught – open questions, closed questions, how you open the call and finally closure. Add in a bit of “treating the customers fairly” into the mix and we have the recipe for effective pre-sue collections.
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