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At a glance: Find out what diligence is and what you can do.
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This summary is not relevant in England and Wales
To view information that covers England and Wales, please click here.

What is diligence?

Diligence is the term for enforcement in Scottish law. It is the steps a creditor can take to get their money back after they have taken court action against you.

When can creditors use diligence?

A creditor can use diligence if you are behind with your debt payments and they have one of the following: 

  • A court order against you for the debt.  
  • A summary warrant, for debts such as council tax, income tax, value added tax (VAT), and National Insurance. 

What does diligence mean for me?

In most cases there are seven forms of diligence which could be used against you. You can contact us to find out more about these.  

Creditors must serve a charge for payment on you before they can carry out most of these actions. This is a formal written request, demanding that you pay the debt within a certain time, usually 14 days.  

Can I stop diligence?

There are things you can do to stop diligence. These depend on the size of your debt and when a claim was made against you.  

Time to pay in the simple procedure

Most debts of £5,000 are recovered using the simple procedure. Under these rules, you can apply for time to pay after the sheriff has made a decision, as long as you haven’t been given time to pay already and have defaulted. You just need to complete a Time to Pay Application form and send it to the court.

Time to pay orders

A time to pay order allows you to repay the debt by monthly instalments. It prevents creditors using most types of diligence against you.  

You may be able to apply for a time to pay order in these situations: 

  • If the diligence is based on a summary warrant for council tax arrears, or a sheriff court decree for a debt between £5,000 and £25,000.  
  • If the decree is for a debt of less than £5,000 and the claim against you was made before 28 November 2016.

Debt Arrangement Scheme

You may benefit from applying for a debt payment programme under the Debt Arrangement Scheme. 

Under a debt payment programme, you make one regular payment to cover most of your debts. This is made to an approved payments distributor who sends money to your creditors for you. If you keep to the agreed payments:  

  • Your creditors cannot use diligence against you.  
  • You are protected from being made bankrupt.  
  • Interest, fees and charges on your debts are frozen.  

Learn more about this topic

If you want to learn more about this topic, you can read our in-depth guide.

Read in-depth-guide

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