Frequently Asked Questions

We are asked a number of questions frequently about services, actions and enforcements. Some of the more common ones are listed below. If you have any questions about an issue relating to SMASO or a SMASO member, please submit your enquiry through our contact page

You should contact a firm of Sheriff Officers who will advise you of the procedure for recovery of the debt. A list of officers throughout Scotland can be found on the Society website at (under Members Directory)
The charges made by an officer for any work are fixed by an Act of Sederunt issued by the Scottish Parliament. Every firm of officers should charge the same fee, provided they carry out the same work. A note of charges can be ascertained by contacting a firm of officers and providing details of what is required. A list of the Tables of Fees for Sheriff Officers can be found at:- and for Messenger-at-Arms at:-
The procedure commences with a charge for payment being served on the defender. This is a document demanding payment within a prescribed period (normally 14 days). It is often the case that, on receiving the charge, a defender will make payment of the debt. It payment is not made at this stage the officer will contact you to discuss the next step and keep you informed of the progress of the proceedings. It should be noted that, whereas you will require to pay the officer for the work that is carried out on your instructions, this sum will ultimately be recoverable from the defender, assuming there are funds available.
In order to enforce a money provision in Scotland of a judgment of a court in another part of the United Kingdom, the party must first obtain a document known as a Certificate of Money Provisions from the court which issued the judgment. The Certificate must then be sent to the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland for registration in the Register of Judgments. (the contact details are: - Keeper of the Registers of Scotland, Meadowbank House, 153 London Road, Edinburgh, EH8 7AU. Tel: 0131 659 6111 Fax: 0131 479 3650 Email: After registration, the party is provided with an official extract copy of the certificate bearing an execution which will enable them to proceed against the debtor in Scotland. In order to take action against the debtor you will require to engage the services of a Sheriff Officer/Messenger-at-Arms and can obtain contact details from the list of Sheriff Officers throughout Scotland which is available on our web site.
If you have obtained a decree for payment from a Scottish court and need to have it enforced in England and Wales, a sheriff officer can assist you. Firstly, a certificate must be obtained from the court which granted the decree. This certificate is to be issued under section 18 of, and paragraph 4(1) of Schedule 6 to, the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982, and paragraph 3(2) of the Act of Sederunt (Enforcement of Judgments under the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982) 1986. The application to the court requires to be made by affidavit, therefore the services of a notary will be required, if only for the formal notarization of the deed. Some sheriff officers are prepared to complete the process, by swearing the oath before a notary on behalf of the creditor. Alternatively, you may wish to employ a solicitor to deal with this. The sworn affidavit and the extract decree are then sent to court, with payment of the extract fee (presently £20, in sheriff court cases). Secondly, the certificate of money provisions (as it is termed) from the Scottish court requires to be registered with the High Court of England and Wales. Your sheriff officer can send the original certificate for registration at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. The effect of registration there is that the creditor now holds the equivalent of a judgment of the English High Court. But no enforcement measure is authorized at this point. In practice, a letter from the sheriff officer at this stage, informing the defender that the decree now could be enforced in England, may prompt payment. However, if this is not successful, formal execution may be necessary. Thirdly, therefore, the sheriff officer may be able to advise you on the enforcement options available to you. The traditional approach in England and Wales - and probably still the best method, if you have no information about, for example, where the defender keeps a bank account, or if the person is in employment - is to ask a High Court enforcement officer to attach the moveable property of the debtor at his or her address. This procedure commences with an application for a writ of fieri facias. The process and the costs involved are quite different from those that apply in Scotland; some sheriff officers, however, will be able to guide you through the procedures.
No. In Scotland only a Messenger-at-Arms or Sheriff Officer can personally serve court documents. A list of officers can be found on our web site.
If you have obtained a decree in a Scottish court and require to have it enforced in another Member State of the European Union, some firms of sheriff officers may be able to accept your instructions to send it for registration abroad, in terms of Council Regulation (EC) No. 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters. You should contact the office of the Society of Messengers-at-Arms and Sheriff Officers, Forth House, 28 Rutland Square, Edinburgh EH1 2BW Tel. No.: 0131 292 0321. E-mail: who will provide you with a list of firms of sheriff officers who may be able to assist you.
Any award or order made by a Tribunal in any part of the United Kingdom, which is enforceable in that part without an order of a court of law, is enforceable in Scotland. You should contact a firm of Sheriff Officers who will advise you what steps require to be taken. A list of officers throughout Scotland can be found on the Society website. (under Members Directory)