Bank Arrestments and FAQS

A bank arrestment in Scotland is when creditors attach funds held in your bank account, with a view to having those funds transferred to them to pay your debts.

However, not all creditors can arrest your bank account and even where they can, there is no guarantee they will succeed.

How do Bank Arrestments work?

Bank arrestments are legally known as Actions of Arrestment and Furthcoming and are a two-stage process.

The first stage is when the funds are attached, which means your bank is instructed to freeze your funds (this is the arrestment phase); the second stage is known as the Furthcoming, which is when the funds are taken from your account and given to your creditors.

The second stage can only occur in two situations. The first is when you sign a mandate and authorise your bank to transfer them, which can be at any point after the arrestment. The second is 14 weeks after the arrestment, when providing you have not lodged any objection, the funds are transferred by operation of law, regardless of whether you agree to the transfer or not.

When can creditors do a Bank Arrestment?

Bank Arrestments are a form of diligence in Scots Law, which means they are the are a legal form of debt recovery and cannot be executed by just anyone but must be executed by a Sheriff Officer or Messenger at Arms. As both Sherriff Officers and Messenger at Arms are officers of the Court, this means bank arrestments can only be executed if your creditors have obtained the authority of the Court to carry out the Arrestment.

Authority of the Court

What the authority of the court means, depends on what type of debt is involved. If the debt is a consumer credit debt, like a credit card, overdraft, or personal loan, then the firm that is owed the money must take you to court and obtain a court order known as a decree.

Once the Court has awarded the decree, they must then wait 14 days to allow you to appeal any decision, before applying for an extract of the decree. Once this has been issued they can then provide this to a Sheriff Officer or Messenger at Arms and instruct they execute the arrestment on your bank account, by delivering it to the bank that holds your accounts.

To do this, they must know what bank you have your account with.  This is one reason you may not wish to provide creditors your bank account details where you are struggling to pay your debts.

Summary Warrants and Bank Arrestments

The process for executing a bank arrestment is different where council tax or debts owed to HMRC are involved.

The reasons for this is because these types of debts can be legally constituted using a Summary Warrant, which is a type of court order, but unlike other court orders does not involve a court hearing.

To apply for a Summary Warrant, both local authorities and HMRC make an application to the Court.  The warrant is issued in your absence and without a court hearing.

As there is no court hearing, there is an extra stage the creditors must complete if they wish to execute a bank arrestment.  They first must serve a Charge for Payment.

This is a legal document that is served on you giving you 14 days to pay your debt in full. If you don’t, or if you don’t apply to the Court for a Time to Pay Order, the creditor is then allowed to arrest your bank account.

Summary Diligence

Finally, there is a third procedure that can be used to arrest a bank account and is known as Summary Diligence.

Summary diligence is a special procedure that allows a debt to be registered for preservation and execution with courts.

The summary diligence procedure operates exactly like the procedure for credit cards and personal loans: it is not necessary to serve a charge for payment, but equally it is not necessary to obtain a court order either.  The process of registering the obligation with the courts (in The Books of Council and Session), acts as a substitute for the process of going to the courts to get a decree, although you need to be in default with the debt before the creditor can extract the debt from the register and execute diligence on it.

Not all creditors can use summary diligence, however. It cannot be used, for example, to enforce debts regulated by the Consumer Credit Act, which covers credit cards and store cards, taken out when you are not borrowing as a business. Nor can it be used for council tax and HMRC debts, as an essential component of the summary diligence process is you must explicitly consent to the process being used when you accrue the debt. As both these types of debts are non-voluntary (they are accrued because the law says you meet the criteria for paying them) your consent is not required.

Summary diligence, primarily, is used for business debts, landlord guarantees and credit union loans (which are not regulated by the Consumer Credit Act).

How much can the Creditor take in a Bank Arrestment?

There is no limit to how much funds a creditor can take when they arrest your bank account.  They can seize the full amount owed (including interest and charges) and their legal costs and the costs of executing the arrestment itself.

Minimum Protected Balance

There are protections on how much the creditor must leave in your bank account, however. This is called the Minimum Protected Balance and means £1,000 must be left in your bank account.

When does the Arrestment become Effective?

The important date or an arrestment is the day it is served on your bank. This is the date of execution. The date of execution is important, as only the funds in your account on this date can be arrested. If there are no funds in your account on this date the arrestment fails, even if the next day £1,000, for example is paid into it.

When will a Bank Arrestment Fail?

Banks arrestments will fail where there are no funds in your account. They will also fail if your account is in overdraft of the funds available on the date of execution are less than the Minimum Protected Balance.

How do you Challenge a Bank Arrestment?

Bank arrestments can be challenged. There are two main means of doing so. One is submitting a Notice of Objection, the other is applying for it be recalled or restricted on the grounds it is unduly harsh. For more information read How do you Challenge a Bank Arrestment?

Readers Questions

  1. Craig

    Who signs off on the bank arrestment from the courts that enables Scott & Co. to do the arrestment for council tax? It doesnt sound legal especially when its a civil matter. Thanks

    1. Scottish Adviser Post author

      Hi Craig

      The Sheriff Court grants the Summary Warrant which is a type of Court order and under the Debtors (Scotland) Act 1987 this grants a Warrant to the Council to authorise Sheriff Officers, officers of the Court, to execute a bank account arrestment.

  2. David

    Hi there, I recently received letters from Scott and Co stating they have executed a funds arrestment for previous years council tax debt and a summary warrant for this years. I had payment plan in place for the previous year but failed to maintain it due to financial hardship. My family and I have just recently navigated through a homeless situation. My partner and I are both self employed, sole traders and both businesses have been struggling greatly. I have explained this previously to Scott and Co. We are on pure survival, barely make enough to cover rent and food, with 2 kids and another on the way. We also dont own anything, the clothes on our back and I own some fitness equipment I use for my work. I have read 2 figures for the minimum protected amount, £529.30 and £1000. I am not sure which is correct? I am wondering what next steps Scott and Co can take? I never have more than £650 in my account at any given time, which is gathered for rent then automatically goes to pay rent that day. Usually then I have around £30 in my account at any given time, which goes that day to food. Complete hand to mouth situation.
    Thank you in advance for any advice given.

    1. Scottish Adviser Post author

      Hi David

      As you are both self-employed they cannot arrest your wages, but they could arrest your bank account. However, the first £1,000 is protected, which mean on the day they arrest your bank account, if the amount in the account is less than this, the arrestment would fail. However, your bank is likely to apply a £25 charge, even if the arrestment fails.

      I would recommend contacting your local advice agency and getting some long term advice. If you are really worried that the Sheriff Officers may succeed in executing diligence against you, you could register a Statutory Moratorium, but just be cautious you can only do this once in 12 month period, so I would recommending getting further advice during the protected period.

  3. eve

    I had a back payment for my care allowance benefit and Scott&Co took it from my bank for council tax, can they take benefit money ?

  4. Ray

    Can an arrestment be made on a joint business bank account for debt owed by only one party?

    1. Scottish Adviser Post author

      It’s depends Ray, on the type of business it is (sole trader, partnership or Ltd Company) and whether the Debt is a business or personal debt.

      You can contact the Business Debt Helpine, which is free.

  5. Tom

    Hi really appreciate all your comments above. Really helpful.

    I have a decree against a limited company in Scotland. The director ignores the decree despite Scott and Co served the limited company a charge.
    He owes me £4000.

    The limited company operating as property sourcing hence no physical asset. I was wondering what is the best diligence ? Bank arressment?

    I know his account number details but not sure about the bank. It could be Tide or Revolut or Mettle which has weird sort code (Prepaid Technology)

    I wondering whether bank arressment works as Tide may not classified as “bank”

    Many thanks for your advice


    1. Scottish Adviser Post author


      It is not possible for us to advise what would be the best type of diligence, as it will depend on each case and the circumstances.

      You are correct also, not ever “bank” can be arrested using a Scottish bank account arrestment as it depends on the type of organisation they are.

      If they are Internet based and don’t have an office/ branch in Scotland, the problem is there no where for the Sheriff Officer to serve it



  6. Victoria

    Hello, I have a few bank arrestments ongoing with various debtors to our business.

    Sheriffs (Scott and Co) advised that after they had sent out the arrestments, that all communication would be with the bank(s). However, upon contacting one of the banks, they said they would not communicate with us and everything would then be between themselves and the debtor.

    We are now reaching the point where we are not sure if these arrestments have failed. Upon reading this article and some of the comments, it seems that someone should be contacting us.

    I am a bit in the dark here – is this routine? Should I contact the sheriffs? The bank? Or just wait until the 14 week point has passed and assume it has failed if we haven’t heard from anyone?

    Any advice you could give would be much appreciated.

      1. Joe Turnbull


        I am in the same situation as Victoria.

        The bank has not complied and are refusing to deal with me.

        Are there any other actions that can be taken, why are banks seemingly willing to violate their obligation under the debtor act?

        1. Scottish Adviser Post author

          Hi Joe

          All I can suggest is making a formal complaint to the bank, referencing the legislation and escalating the matter, though it may be that they have not successfully been able to arrest any funds. S73G only requires them to tell you if funds have been arrested. If no funds are arrested, from one reading of the legislation, there is no duty to disclose

  7. John


    Elderly father with dementia in a lot of debt to a number of creditors including council tax.

    He is receiving council tax reduction and debt is for water/sewage only.

    His Bank account arrested just before Xmas.

    Council and his doctor agree a Financial Guardianship application is required. By law council has to apply as too complicated for me.

    However , Council lawyer says he can’t apply to be Guardian (on behalf of council) due to conflict of interest due to his arrears of Council Tax and will have to source it to outside lawyer which will be difficult as they require payment and father has no money.

    My argument is there is no conflict of interest as money is owed to Scottish water and not Council, so Council lawyer can apply for financial guardianship?

    His creditors will suspend any further action if I can prove guardianship applied for. Thoughts please ? Thanks in advance for any guidance.

    1. Scottish Adviser Post author

      Hi John

      I have sent you an email. If you can respond I can see if I can direct you to a local advice agency or law centre that may be able to assist you here.

      There are a number of issues I believe need to be explored.

      First, whether your Father should be liable for Council Tax at all, due to his health. He may be entitled to a Severe Mental Impairment exemption and it may be possible to back date this, to reduce or clear off his Council Tax Arrears.

      Second, I am not sure if the bank arrestment was lifted, but possibly these funds should be returned to your Father, if his income is benefits only or it has left him in a position of financial hardship.

      Thirdly, even if there are Council Tax Arrears and the Council cannot apply for a Guardianship Order, what I would be asking is whether your Father should receive legal aid to pay for any legal fees. The Local Authority does have a duty of care towards your Father legally, so it is not acceptable if he cannot care for himself and lacks the legal capacity to make decisions that he be left with no-one able to act on his behalf to make legal and welfare related decision, simply because there is no-one that can afford to pay for a solicitor to apply for a Guardianship Order. I certainly would be raising this with his local councillor as it is a welfare issue involving a vulnerable adult, and as I say Local Authorities do have a legal duty of care they cannot just ignore.

      As, I say there are other issues I would want explored, such as ensuring he is receiving all other benefits he is entitled to and getting someone to deal with his debts (this may be difficult to deal with if no-one has legal capacity to act on his behalf and he lacks the legal capacity to instruct someone to act on his behalf, but this only underlines why a Guardianship Order is so important).

      If you can email me back and let me know what local authority area your Father lives in, I will endeavour to direct you to your local advice agency or law centre that can help you.

  8. Eddie

    Good afternoon

    I would like to perform a bank arrestment for the decree I recently obtained, however after I was informed by the Sheriff Officer that the account was set up in England (even though the debtor lives in Scotland and uses that same Barclays account for a few years) it will be most probably unsuccessful. How can I arrest that account? Can I ask English debt collectors to help me passing on to them a decree from the Scottish Court?

    Many thanks for your help!

    1. Scottish Adviser Post author

      Hi Eddie

      You will need to obtain a Certificate of Money Provisions Order under the Civil Jurisdictions and Judgements Act 1982, you then need to register it with the HM Courts and Tribunal Service in England and Wales.

      This page on the Scottish Courts Website explains the process

  9. Mary

    Hello Scott and co have threatened me with a bank arrestment they have my bank details from a while ago I’ve since opened a new account will they be able to find out about this.

    1. Scottish Adviser Post author

      Hi Mary

      One thing you can look at as an option to try and protect yourself from a Bank Account Arrestment, is registering a Statutory Moratorium. This is free to do and you can do it online.
      It gives you six months protection from Sheriff Officers to seek advice, but you can only do it once in any 12 month period.
      You can find out more Here.

      1. Ian

        Hi Scottish adviser,

        I am disabled and suffer from depression and ill health and rely solely on benefits, which I believe are exempt from arrestment.

        Alex Adamson attempted a bank arrestment for alleged council tax debt, which failed on 28th January due to no funds.

        I believe this arrestment order is only valid for one day. According to the Bank, Adamson’s then tried again on 4th February. This time they arrested my universal credit and Employment Support Allownce which includes my rent and living expenses. I also had a protective award paid to me as part of my redundancy during the pandemic. This was paid on 4th February along with my Universal Credit Benefit. I believe redundancy payments are also exempt from arrestment.

        How soon can a Sheriff Officer try the same tactic again?

        I have challenged the Bank and first they said it was gone and I would have to contact Adamson, but now I find it is laid aside and can’t be paid out without my authorising it.

        I have reported it to the Bank as a fraudulent attempt to steal money, with the bank authorising it without security checking the validity of the documents produced by Adamsons.

        Obviously failure on the first attempt makes any Court Order invalid and the enforcer would have to reapply to the court for another order which would take time.

        My friend says they can only apply an arrestment once in any 30 days. Would appreciate if you reply thanks.

        1. Scottish Adviser Post author

          Hi Ian

          Unfortunately, although I think it may be possible for you to challenge the Arrestment, I don’t think you will succeed challenging the Sheriff Officer or the Bank’s actions.

          First, a Bank Arrestment is a form of legal debt recovery that proceeds on the basis of a Court Order or it’s equivalent, which in the case of council tax arrears is a Summary Warrant. The Sheriff Officers, as Officers of the Court, can use multiple forms of Diligence to recover such a debt (including Bank Account and Earning arrestments).They can take these steps to recover Council Tax debt for up to 20 years, and are able to use them multiple times through that period, and also charge the costs of doing so to you in the form of adding fees to your debts.

          They can, therefore, try a Bank Account Arrestment again if they are unsuccessful on their first attempt. There is no restriction on how long they have to wait after doing one, before trying another. Banks have no discretion in whether or not to apply the arrestment, as Sheriff Officers are Officers of the Court, so the bank must comply with any instruction they give. It would not, therefore, constitute fraud on the part of the Sheriff Officers and the Bank have no power to refuse the instructions of the Sheriff Officers. The Sheriff Officers also don’t need to reapply to the Courts before trying again. The only requirement is they must serve a Charge for Payment within two years of attempting a Bank Account Arrestment (when it is for Council Tax).

          There are rules about benefits not being arrestable, but these are not clear cut when benefits are paid into an account that has other funds deposited in it. If these funds are not benefits, like your redundancy payments, they can argue the benefits lose their character as “benefits”, as it is impossible to separate them from the other funds that are in the account, so they can all be arrested. It is also not for the Bank to decide what the character of the funds in an account are, they must just arrest them. If you want to challenge whether the arrestment was competent or not (or unduly harsh – which is a stronger argument when some funds are benefits and some are not), this must be done by applying to the Courts, within 4 weeks of the Arrestment being executed.

          Also, in relation to Earning Arrestments there is a rule that statutory redundancy payments are not treated as earnings, but as for bank accounts these are different. Earning arrestments can only arrest earnings (which statutory redundancy payments don’t qualify as), but bank arrestments can arrest any funds held in an account, so the same protections for redundancy payments don’t apply.

          In relation to when the funds are transferred to Adamson’s, this happens after 14 weeks automatically (but you can choose to release them to them earlier). The delay is to allow you time to challenge the Bank Account Arrestment, but if you do nothing, they will be automatically transferred at the end of that period. (See here about challenging a Bank Account Arrestment).

          My advice would be to contact your local advice agency (see here), who may be able to advise you further and help negotiate the release of some of the funds, but if not, may be able to help you challenge the arrestment through the courts. They will hopefully also advise you on how best to stop further bank account arrestments, if some of the debt is still owed.

  10. Steve

    Hi, I have council tax arrears I was wondering if my bank account can be arrested if I never have anymore than £500 in my account at any time due to working a zero hrs contract job?



    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Steve

      Sorry for the delay in responding.

      Basically the first £529.90 is protected in you account, so if the sums in your account are less than this when your account is arrested, it is protected.

  11. Gabe

    Hi, following a successful action under the Simple Procedure against a contractor who supplied and installed faulty goods, I arranged for Sherriff Officers to execute an arrestment of funds in the contractor’s bank account. This took place in mid-December 2020.
    No payment has yet been made to me and the 14 week period is up in late March 2021. I understand that it is only then I will find out if the arrestment has been successful and I would like to ask, what are my options if the arrestment fails due to insufficient funds in the respondent’s account?
    Many thanks

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Gabe

      It really depends. I have a page on Diligence that explains the main procedures you can use, but another one I don’t cover, but can be used against businesses is Money Attachments.

      The best recovery is intelligence based. So find out as much as you can about the firm you are seeking recovery from and then use the recovery methods most likely to be successfull.

      Often the best person to speak to is actually a Sheriff Officer, so ask the firms who done the bank arrestment for you if you can speak to one of their Officers.

      1. Gabe

        Hi, thank you for your prompt and helpful response and I’ll try and speak with one of the Officers of the company who carried out the arrestment if it fails.

        At the expiry of the 14 week period, what happens and when? Does the respondent’s bank contact me to advise whether or not the arrestment has been successful and if it has, when I will be put in funds?…

        Is the 14 week period 14 calendar weeks or is it extended by (for example) Christmas and New Year holidays.

        Thanks again

        1. Scottish Adviser

          Hi Gabe

          At the end of the 14 weeks you should be notified whether the Arrestment has been successful and if fund arrested, how much. Your Sheriff Officers should be in touch.

          The legislation just states 14 weeks from the date the arrestment was executed, so should include holiday etc.

  12. Dani

    I just got notified of an arrestment for Council Tax. Normally it would have failed because there are no funds in my accounts. However, just on that day I took out a loan to consolidate credit card debt, and so temporarily had a large sum in my account before I transferred it to the credit cards. I can’t tell yet if the payments to the cards have gone through or if they successfully arrested my funds. But the £25 court order charge is on my statement. Is that a good sign that the arrestment failed, or will that be charged either way? Thank you. Also is “I only had funds because I just took out a loan to pay off other debts, and a day sooner or later would have had no funds” a reason to challenge the arrest?

    Man, being poor is expensive.

    Thank you!

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Dani

      I can’t say for certain. The £25 administrative charge is normally applied by your bank, but you will need to confirm with your bank whether the funds had already been transferred to your credit cards or whether they have been frozen. If they have been frozen they won’t be available to you and will have been transferred into a separate account.

      As far as I am aware, the fee the banks charge is the same they charge for a CHAPs payment, which guarantees a same day transfer of funds; so the fact you have been charged this I don’t believe is evidence the arrestment has failed. However, most banks still charge this even if it has failed, but may be prepared to waive it if you ask them to because of financial hardship.

      It may be your instructions to transfer the funds did beat the arrestment, but the only way to confirm this is to contact your bank.

      The Sheriff Officers and the Council won’t know yet if the arrestment has been successful.

      Unfortunately, the fact is the funds arrested, if they have been arrested, are not protected in anyway by the fact you borrowed them for another purpose. I don’t believe this would be a ground of challenge that would succeed. The Council would just argue they have a superior right to be paid before any other creditor as they executed an arrestment, which is sadly correct, legally.

  13. Gordon

    Hi, with the latest round of draconian government measures concerning fines for breathing, is it possible to take jail time rather than pay a virus fine ? Or should I take all my cash out of my bank account, seeing the bank will not take my side if this arises. Many thanks, you may be asked this question quite a lot very soon. And, does the UK government rules/law apply to scotland in this matter.

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Gordon

      Deliberate non-payment of fines may result in being incarcerated, although its not something I normally advise on other than to say you should treat any criminal fine as a priority.
      If you have trouble paying it you should speak with the Court and Fines Enforcement Officer.
      Criminal law tends to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, but the UK can also impose fines for reserved matters.
      Best to speak with a criminal lawyer.

  14. Luke


    We (my wife and I), currently have a council tax debt (totalling a little over £1700), we are not disputing the matter, however it has been passed to Scott & Co, and we have today received notice that they have arrested funds.

    We are on benefits (universal credit), and have previously offered Scott & Co £100 per month (it is all we can afford) but they have refused.

    Can anyone advise please?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Luke

      I am sorry this has happened to you.

      The bank account arrestment can be challenged, but that is not to say the Sheriff Officers will agree.

      There is an argument that when the only funds paid into your account are benefits, the arrestment should be lifted if you can show that is the only funds being paid into your account.

      Not all Sheriff Officers agree with this. However, it is possible to apply to the Court to get the arrestment lifted. To do this you are best contacting you local Citizen Advice Bureau or Local Authority Money Advice Service, as not only can they assist you to do this, but they can try and negotiate with them first, which can often be quicker.

      I am posting a link (see here) that explains how you challenge a bank arrestment, but the links above will give you information on how to contact your local advice agencies.

  15. Gemma

    Hello, if a bank arrestment is made by a sherrif officer then the company goes into liquidation will this fail?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Sorry Gemma for the delay in getting back to you.

      Corporate insolvency law is not one of my strengths.

      However, my understanding is if the arrestment occurs within 60 day of the liquidation being awarded, then the liquidator can cut down the bank arrestment and take the arrested funds for the benefit of all the creditors in the liquidation.

      This is not automatic, however, so they may not do so, but should if they are aware of it.

      As I say this is not one of my strengths so I would ask the Sheriff Officer who arrested the account. They should know.

  16. Gordon


    I have been sent notification from Nationwide to say an arrestment of funds on my account.

    I live in Scotland the amount arrested was €155.

    Scot and co have sent me a mandade to sign
    for the arrested funds, but the Scot and Co amount is £1,869.

    So does this mean they will take money every week until the debt paid or is that just for the one off payment?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Gordon

      This is a bank arrestment, so it is a one-off arrestmenr, although they can do it again, now they know where your bank account is.

      A Bank Arrestment allows them to arrest funds in your account over the Minimum Protected Balance, which is £529.90.

      However, as the debt is a lot more they can now take further action to try and recover the remaining debt.

      This means that could try another Bank Arrestment,but they can also take other action like Wage Arrestments or try and execute an Attachment.

      Whether you want to sign the Mandate is up to you. You dont have to,but if you done and don’t challenge the Bank Arrestment, the funds are automatically transferred to Nationwide after 14 weeks.

      My advice is to seek advice from your local Citizen Advice Bureau or Local Authority money advice service.

      1. Gordon


        I want to pay the bill that I owe them, the only reason there was money in my account was because of holiday pay.

        Before I have offered them £100 a week.

        As I owe a lot with charges they will not make agreement, but said they would not refuse any payment.

        I thought would it be better to wait the 14 weeks and pay £100 pound weekly so they could see I would stick to this agreement.

        I cannot afford more as that is a third of my wages.

        Any advice would help as my wife is disable and my son is her carer while I am at work.

        1. Scottish Adviser

          Hi Gordon

          As it is a bank arrestment, they can take what they find in the account above the protected minimum balance, even if it is holiday pay.

          I cannot say whether the offer you are making is reasonable or not as I don’t have a detailed understanding of your financial situation, but my gut instinct is a third of your wages is too much to offer.

          They will try and get you to pay more, that is what they are paid to do. However, what is in your best interest is to get a sustainable repayment plan that you can afford.

          The best way to do this is to seek advice from your local Citizen Advice Bureau or Local, free money advice service, as they will do a detailed income and expenditure and also look at your finances as a whole. They will then give you what is the best advice for your circumstances and help you work out what you can afford.

          They will also negotiate with Scott and Co for you, using the income and expenditure and make sure you are not offering more than you can afford.

          I appreciate this can be time consuming, but honestly getting advice from a service that can give you bespoke advice (which this site cannot), is in your best interest and can hopefully sort out this problem for you.

          As I say, there is limitations as to what I can tell you, but I would say there are solutions and there are people out there in advice services that do this daily for people and are very skilled at getting the best solution for you.

  17. George

    Question please!

    I have just received a letter from my building society saying that “an arrestment of funds order has been placed on this account”. (Account is with an English building soc – Nationwide – but who operate in Scotland also)

    My balance at time of them doing this was around £120. (My current income is around £470 pcm – benefits only). I find that the £120 is currently frozen at this first stage of the arrestment process, Am I right in saying that I should have access to this small sum as it is under the protected minimum balance of £529.90; and that the building soc should only hold/freeze anything over £529.90? If so, what is the actual legislation or regulation that binds the financial organisation.

    For info, the matter is about a disputed parking ticket and subsequent intervention by Stirling Park!

    Very many thanks!

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi George

      This sounds like a Arrestment of Funds Order executed on the basis of an Enforcement Order granted to a Fines Enforcement Officer.

      These are granted under the Criminal Proceedings etc (Reform) (Scotland) 2007 Act.

      I will be honest and say I am not totally sure the Protected Minimum Balance applies to these. The National Debtline appear to think they do,but the Scottish Courts website is silent on it.

      I will endeavour to find out, and let you know, but in the meantime you may want to phone the Fine Enforcement Officer at your local Sheriff Court. If the amount in your account is too low possibly they can advise the bank.

      My doubts are because the terminology “Arrestment of Funds in a Bank Account” is different from that in the Debtors (Scotland) Act 1987, which governs bank arrestment which are normally called Actions of Arrestment and Furthcoming.

      P.S. I believe I had mistyped in another article the PMB was £529.30, but it’s actually £529.90. My apologies. I have corrected it on your post.

      1. George

        It’s a PCN from Glasgow City Council… so I’m not sure if the Fines Enforcement Officer was involved? It was one of these automatic Sheriff jobs (charge certificate) via Stirling Park (which Sheriffs did deliver to my home address). I was going to appeal but didn’t get round to it as I have been unwell with a rare condition affecting cognitive process. The appeal was/would have been complex as the car got damaged in GCC’s parking place by their equipment; and the times on the PCN were all wrong…. How can I clarify the minimum protected balance situation?

        Many thanks

        1. Scottish Adviser

          Hi George

          Thanks for coming back to me.

          If it is a Penalty Charge Notice from Glasgow City Council, then it is a civil matter and is enforced by Sheriff Officers, as opposed to a Fixed Penalty Notice, which is enforced by a Fines Enforcement Officer.

          The curious thing is the phrase “Arrestment of Funds Order” by the bank, which I have only found in relation to Enforcement Orders (and now you have got me looking into it, I am going to clarify whether the Protected Minimum Balance applies to this).

          However, Sheriff Officers to arrest your bank account use Actions of Arrestment and Furthcoming under the Debtors (Scotland) Act 1987.

          S73F (4) of the 1987 Act basically stipulates that the PMB is the monthly amount in the Earning Arrestment tables that are protected, so that is £529.90.

          I cannot explain why the bank are not giving you access to your funds if they are below this amount. I would suggest making a complaint.

          You should also receive a notification from the Sheriff Officers now the Arrestment has been executed, but I think the problem is with the bank as they are the ones denying you access to your funds. The Arrestment Schedule should have notified them of the PMB, so there is no excuse.

          Please let me know how you get on, as I would be keen to hear.

          1. Scottish Adviser

            Hi George

            Sorry for not being able to give you a definitive answer yesterday, however, I have spoke to a Fines Enforcement Officer and they have confirmed to me the Protected Minimum Balance does apply, regardless of whether it’s a bank account arrestment for a Fixed Penalty Notice of Penalty Charge Notice.
            The terminology threw me, but at least it has clarified it for me.
            Every day is a school day even after 20 years.
            I would complain to the Bank about them denying access to the funds. It appears they are wrong.

            1. George

              Very many thanks… very good of you! In the interim I also did some research (I was a legal practitioner (criminal) in England, but quite unsure of many of the equivalent Scottish practices!! Also, I started to train as a CAB(S) adviser a couple of years ago – long story). I am now sat in Skye on benefits and a serious medical condition (which I think may become relevant in this matter at GCC and Stirling Park level!) In my humble opinion the 1987 Act – S73F is reasonably clear – but only after gazing at it for a long while!! The bank should not have frozen this £171… I have now complained. I also phoned Stirling Park where the senior guy was very defensive saying that it is the bank’s fault and Stirling Park are perfectly aware of the ‘blanket’ protected minimum balance.

              So… is the onus on the bank to tell Stirling Park that the arrestment will fail and /or the funds can’t even be frozen at time of arrestment request…, or should Stirling Park and/or the Sheriffs check if this is the case (notwithstanding any confidentiality constraints)?? What do you think? Finally, I really think this is a great service and you do a fantastic job – thanks again

              1. Scottish Adviser

                Hi George

                Thank you. S73 of the Debtors (Scotland) Act 1987 was actually introduced by the Bankrutpcy and Diligence Etc (Scotland) Act 2007.

                In terms of who is responsible, I think it is clearly the Bank. The Sheriff Officers would have served the Arrestment Schedule and it would have told the bank about the PMB.

                Also at this point the Sheriff Officers will only have your word as to how much has been arrested, as they don’t usually find out how much was arrested until the mandate is signed or the 14 weeks expire, so they won’t agree to lift the Arrestment until they know for certain.

                I would pursue the bank with an urgent complaint, it is more likely to be actioned quicker and you then have the option of taking them to the Financial Service Ombudsman as clearly they have made an error and wrongfully denied you access to funds. You may be able to get compensation from them for the distress it has caused you.

                Again thank you for your kind words; glad to help.

                  1. George

                    Very many thanks for the table and previously setting the context on the 2007 legislation.

                    Another issue!! If you can advise, or direct me to where to obtain advice…. Motoring fines transferred (issues unknown to me as I had moved) from an English Magistrates Court to FEO in Scotland. Despite attending Portree Sherrifs twice and subsequent corespondence chain, a warrant to apprehend was issued out of the blue and I find myself put in jail by 2 (very apologetic) police officers… Any ideas..!!??

                  2. Kirsty

                    Hi, I’ve just received a 25 court order fee on my account, but I had no money in my account, so its put me in an unarranged overdraft.
                    Can you tell me what this means? It’s for council tax debt and I missed a payment last month I’m really worried, I have two kids and on benefits.

                    1. Scottish Adviser Post author

                      Hi Kirsty

                      The £25 Court Order you have received is applied to your bank as a fee, as Sheriff Officers have tried to arrest your bank account. However, its sounds like the arrestment failed as you had less than £529.90 in your account on the day they tried to arrest your account.
                      You can ask the bank to remove the court fee, if you struggling as a result of it, but its entirely at their discretion.
                      You should seek advice from your local advice agency, in case they try it again. See here.

  18. Darren


    I have arrears for my council tax and today spoke to Walker Love who told me because I am not employed at the moment they cannot set up a temporary payment plan and the next stage is to arrest my account.

    I have a business account which has money in it but this is money that has been kept by for tax. Can they also arrest business accounts do you know?

    Thanks in advance

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Darren

      This sounds like typical fear tactics, to try and force you to make payments you cannot afford.

      They regularly enter into repayment plans with people that are not working and the Council can request deductions from your benefits towards you arrears and then put all further Diligence on hold.

      I would contact your local Citizen Advice Bureau or Local Authority Money Advice Service and ask if they can help.

      In terms of business accounts, if you were a sole trader and the funds are in a sole trader business account, they could arrest it as it is funds that are owed to you personally.

      It is, therefore, important you get advice.

  19. C Lou


    My partner previously entered into a DAS for debt which was cleared. It appears that one store card was missed out from this. A decree was granted around 2013 to arrest his earnings, however by this time he was self employed therefore this was not successful. The CCJ still shows on his credit report. Is he still liable for this debt or can we defend the action based on the fact the decree was defective and has not been successfully enforced since then?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi C Lou

      It would be interesting to find out why the debt was left out the case, as it should not have been.

      If it’s an official error, there may be a remedy there.

      However, that aside, the position is it wasn’t paid off so is still owing as DAS is not a type of debt write off solution.

      Having a debt in a DAS also doesn’t prevent a court order being granted, it only prevents it being enforced if it is in the DAS. If it’s not in, it can still be enforced.

      Unfortunately, a decree has now been granted so it can last 20 years or more and be recovered for that period.

      However, it should be removed from your partner’s credit reference file after 6 years, but it is still a debt he owes.

  20. Jason


    I have been issued a bank arrestment for an unpaid parking ticket that I am currently disputing again Glasgow City COUNCIL (GCC) for wrongful removal of Blue Badge.

    I received a Charge notice from Stirling Park in July 2019, at which point I informed them I was still in dispute with GCC.

    I have receive no correspondence from them after that telephone call.

    They said they served a Charge Notice in August, I never received any notice by hand or by registered post.

    This complaint is still ongoing with GCC.

    Can this bank arrestment be enforced for a parking ticket?

    Do they require a court order to enforce this?

    If they are serving important documents, should they require to be signed for?

    As it is showing as a pending transaction and I have less than £300 in my account, will this arrestment fail?

    Stirling Park are unhelpful with advice and I am now being treated by them as if I were a criminal.

    1. Scottish Adviser


      There are two separate issues here.

      1) Is whether the removal of your Blue Badge should have been removed? Have you appealed that decision? (See What Happens if My Application is Refused?).

      You only have 20 days to appeal a decision to refuse you a Blue Badge if a decision is taken to refuse you one.

      If you have not appealed, you could ask for a late appeal, or re-apply and if refused again, appeal at that point.

      2) The second issue is your parking ticket. The Council will likely take the view, your Blue Badge complaint aside at the moment, you had been refused, so you should not have been using a disabled space.

      If you can get the Blue Badge reinstated, they may change their view, but I don’t think they are obliged to.

      The fine can certainly be enforced if the appeal process has been exhausted or the time for it has lapsed.

      They do not need to take you to Court as a Registration process is used to enforce it and it can be passed to Sheriff Officers for recovery.

      This means Stirling Park can serve a Charge for Payment. They can also execute a Bank Arrestment.

      However, if the funds in your account are less than £529.30 it will fail, but the cost of them trying it can be added to your debts and your bank can add a £25 administration fee to your account (you can ask them to remove it as this is the first attempt to arrest your bank account and it has failed).
      This is not to say Stirling Park cannot try again, and you could be liable for fees and charges again.

      The Charge for Payment does not need to be signed for. It has to be delivered by Sheriff Officers, but it can be posted through your door.

      They will have done this in twos, so where people deny they received it, they have a witness it was served.

      I would recommend to stop this debt getting out of control, and increasing, you seek advice from your local Citizen Advice Bureau or Local Authority Money Advice Service.

  21. Samantha

    I have DWP Appointee-ship for my disabled son. He lent his brother money when his brother was at Uni. I was aware of the agreement, he was old enough to make that choice and also living at home so we both worked out how much he could lend his brother at any point in time. I did advise that he save up whatever amount he borrowed over the years as his brother wants to do his driving and save for a car and I felt that a perfect opportunity and one we agreed on, however his brother didn’t set up an account once he was working so I opened an account online through my internet banking under my name as his DWP Appointee, (as I am entitled to do as long as only his money goes in to it and not mine or anyone else’s ). It couldn’t be transferred to the acc that his benefit goes in to as I haven’t set up the facilities to put money in, only take out…as at the time there was no reason to put money in to that account. I opened it with £20 and once his brother started sending money every month I withdrew the £20 used to open the acc. There is only 1 person who pays money in and only 1person who gets money from that account.

    My son is going on holiday on 17th and needs spending money so I went to the account set up for him and over 1k has been ‘arrested’. It was arrested in 8/10/19. As I was speaking to him trying to explain what had happened I opened a letter that had literally been posted through my door and watermarked as 11/10/19, as is the letter.
    This letter is for parking fines which I disputed over 2yrs ago with the council as they awarded me a blue badge which I paid for, yet it was only awarded for 6mths therefore unbeknown to me it was out of date. At no point did I ever see a ticket on my car and my witness was a senior manager who actually worked for the council. I asked for photographs and was sent 1 which showed a silver Toyota, not my car!

    This letter states that the arrestment was executed in 4/10/2019 however nothing has been served on me and this is the first contact I have had regarding the issue since disputing it through a solicitor.
    The letter, dated 11/10/2019 states that this is a mandate for the release of the arrested funds, and there are two places at the bottom for me to sign which agrees to the money being withdrawn, and a further section stating that upon implementation of this mandate this correspondence can be taken as a formal letter advising (my bank) that the arrestment can be considered withdrawn and departed from etc. and there is a space for the sheriffs officers to sign.

    I have read your advice, however….given that there are two places for my signature authorizing that they can withdraw the money, I am sure that this should have been obtained before any monies taken. I have via my solicitor asked to agree upon a repayment sum which they won’t consider, however as far as I am aware under the debtors Scotland act they must do so, particularly as I myself am on low income. Finally, I’m struggling to understand how they can state that the arrestment was executed on the 4/10/2019 which I can categorically state that it was not, take money out of an account on the 8/10/2019 without my knowledge and when the issue is still under dispute, and then send me the mandate for authorizing my bank to release funds on the 11/10/2019.
    This all seems to be very backwards and the main point is that they have not arrested my money….and I have a bank account….but have arrested my sons money from an account where his brother pays a set amount per month and my son is the only one to have any monies transferred to him. I’m aware that they do not know that it is my sons account and money, albeit under my name and managed on his behalf as requested by him, but they are fully aware that I am DWP Appointee therefore I would assume that they would ask first considering they do have this information.

    Can you please advise

    Many thanks

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Samantha

      Thanks for coming on.

      There is actually two issues here.

      First there is the issue of the Penalty Charge Notice (Parking Fine); and then there is the issue of the bank arrestment. There are both linked, but separate also.

      Taking first the bank arrestment, which is the more urgent issue you and your son is facing. What the Council have done is registered the Parking Fine with the Court and this allows them to do the bank arrestment (also known as an Action of Arrestment and Furthcoming). You don’t get any advance notice of this, in case you remove the funds from the account prior to the bank arrestment being executed).

      Not all the funds should have been arrested. You should, therefore, be able to remove £529.90, which is known as the Minimum Protected Balance.

      In relation to the rest of the funds that have been arrested, you can challenge this, by submitting a Notice of Objection on the basis that all or some of the funds are owed to a third party (namely your son). You can do this using form 63F, which you can download here (word version.)

      This Notice of Objection is done under the Debtors (Scotland) Act 1987 and your argument is essentially what you have explained to me about this account. You could attach to Form 63F the explanation that you have provided me. It is free to do this and what you need to do is complete Form 63F and take it your local Sheriff Court and the Sheriff Clerks Office. Also take the notification that you have received from the Sheriff Officers.

      The action can actually be raised by your Son, and this may be worth considering, as your son may be entitled to legal aid and a solicitor could act on his behalf. Alternatively you could request assistance from your local Citizen Advice Bureau or Local Authority Money Advice Agency.

      The Council will then be notified that you have submitted a Notice of Objection. They may agree to release the funds at this point, but if they don’t the Court will set a Hearing date.

      You or your Son (depending who is raising the action), has to be represented at this Hearing to make your case.

      The problem is this can take time and is not quick. A quicker solution may be found by trying to negotiate with the Council and if you contact your local solicitor or advice agency, they should help you with this. You can find out more about challenging a Bank Arrestment from my page about this (see here).

      In relation to the Penalty Charge Notice, (see my page about them here), there was an appeal process, but it seems you have not used this or it has not been held in your favour. What happens at the end of this process is the Council register the fine with the Court, that allows them to do the Bank Arrestment. There is no Court Hearing. There is a possible legal argument, however, when a Bank Arrestment is executed if its in relation to a debt that is awarded by the Court without a Court Hearing, it may be possible to use a Hearing about the Bank Arrestment as a Hearing to dispute whether you own the debt – because you never previously had a chance to do so before in Court. There is some court case law that may help with this argument (see North Lanarkshire Council v John Sexton). This is a complex legal argument, but if you have a solicitor making the case or an experienced Money Adviser, they should be able to do so).

      Another alternative is try and raise the issue with your local Councillor and ask if they can speak to the Council on your behalf. This may get you a quicker result.

      There is definetly a legal route, but it just may take longer and be more complex, but ultimately an option.

      Do not agree to sign the forms they sent you as this will automatically release the funds that have been frozen in your account. If you do nothing, they will get the Funds in 14 weeks as they will then automatically transfer, but if you challenge the Arrestment, they will remain frozen until this issue is dealt with by the Court.

      You have 4 weeks from the date of the Arrestment being Executed, to submit a Notice of Objection.

  22. Jade


    I opened up my online banking today, to find I had a £586 account arrestment.

    The bank can’t tell me who the creditor is and have said I will need to wait 4 to 5 working days for the letter.

    I have been left with less than 500 to live on for a whole month as I just got paid yesterday.

    I can’t pay my rent and buy shopping and get to work.

    I have to choose to pay my rent or eat.

    I have an 11 year old child and I just dont know what to do. As it’s a Friday I cant even contact citizens Advice.

    I work 10 hour shifts so most places are closed when I finish work.


    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Jade

      I am sorry to hear this has happened to you. It always comes as a shock, as you don’t always get notice that a bank arrestment is about to happen. The official name for this is an Action of Arrestment and Furthcoming and you don’t get notice it will happen, to avoid you moving the funds from the account.

      They must leave you £529.30 in your account. This is the Minimum Protected Balance.

      The Bank should know who has done it as they will have received an Arrestment Schedule and that should say who the Sheriff Officers are and who the Creditor is, but you will get a letter, probably after the weekend.

      You won’t be able to sort this out until after the weekend, so you will have to make a hard decision, but I would advise feeding you and your child and heating your home is your priority, as is getting to work.

      A Money Adviser working with your local Citizen Advice Bureau, or your local Council can help you with your rent arrears and this debt and it can be explained to your landlord why this happened and you are trying to sort this out. They will not be happy, but they can’t just evict you, so don’t worry about that just now.

      If no-one has taken you to court for a debt and you don’t have a Credit Union loan, I suspect it is for Council Tax Arrears. This is the most common reason bank accounts are arrested. So if you have missed a few months Council Tax (or have done in the past), this is the most likely reason.

      Bank Arrestments can be challenged (see here), but it can be difficult and the Courts have to be used. A Citizen Advice Bureau Money Adviser or Council Money Adviser may be able to help you with this and I would argue the more likely grounds for doing so would be it is unduly harsh. However, there is no guarantee of success and it takes time.

      A more likely solution is to get a money adviser to contact the creditor and ask they release some of the funds to you. They may be willing to do this if it can be shown the arrestment will be harsh.

      Going forward you may want to look at Statutory Moratoriums, which give you 6 week protection from Sheriff Officers till you get things sorted and the Debt Arrangement Scheme. There may be other options also.

      You will need to speak to a money adviser about this.

      In my option the best person to speak to is your local Citizen Advice Bureau or Local Authority Money Adviser, but there are is also Stepchange a national debt charity that operates a national debt telephone line service. They can also allow you to access the Debt Arrangement Scheme, but won’t negotiate with the Creditor over this arrestment like a CAB or Council Money Adviser will (I don’t think).

      You should also get a full benefit check done to see if you are entitled to any extra money.

      If your follow the highlighted text above, I have hyperlinked to other pages that should give you more information and direct you to other sites that can help.

      Please let me know how you get on.

  23. S L


    I owe SSE for an unpaid utility bill.

    It went to court and they got a decree. I explained to the sheriff I live alone on £53 per week so they’re wasting their time.

    I had to move and it turns out the new place has SSE as a pay as you go provider. Can they just add that unpaid bill as a debt to the new place’s pay As you go account debt?

    They know where I am and are bound to notice there’s a live account.

    1. Scottish Adviser


      No, as far as I am aware they can’t.

      I believe the relevant rules are contained in the Gas (Prepayment Meter) Regulations 2006 and the Electricity (Prepayment Meter) Regulations 2006.

      Both these Regulations allow for Prepayment Meters to be used to recover debts that were accrued at a different address,but only if they enter a voluntary agreement with you.

      You can cancel that agreement at anytime.

      I have to confess this is not an area I have lots of experience in, but from what I understand these Regulations are still in force.

      In both Regulations, Regulations 3 to 5 are the most relevant ones (see the hyperlinks above).

  24. alice

    Hi there,

    I would like to seek your advice.

    My friend who is from Scotland is working in Brunei as a contract engineer with an EPC contractor .

    He is paid in USD.

    When his company pays him his salary for this project, he needs to pay a few different fees (Sign off fees and stamp feed) to the off shore bank in order to get his money into his Scottish bank account.

    He is requested to pay all these fees before the bank release the money into his account.

    However, after the money has been credited into his bank account in Scotland, his account was frozen.

    He is being told that he needs to pay a sum of money in USD for the International Monitoring Fund and a Certificate to unfreeze his account.

    Is there such a law and fees impose ?

    1. Scottish Adviser


      This is out with my knowledge and experience.

      Much of this will be dealt with by the type of bank accounts your friends has and what those banks rules are in relation to transactions fees.

      I would recommend your friend speaks to an accountant who has some expertise in this area and is familiar with what the legal requirements are that he needs to satisfy.

  25. Donna

    My daughter was in an abusive relationship and her ex ran up debt using her details.

    Three years has passed since she escaped, but has now been notified that her bank account is about to be frozen. She has no proof the debt isn’t hers and now survives on disability benefits.

    Can these be arrested?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Donna

      First I am sorry to hear about your daughter’s situation.

      Who has notified her that her bank account is about to be arrested? This is unusual, as normally they just do it. If they pre-warn you, you can remove the funds from the account.

      They can only arrest a bank account after they have taken court action against her. There are some exceptions to this, when they can use a process called Summary Diligence, but that is only for certain types of debts like Credit Union loans. They cannot do it for consumer credit debts, like credit cards and catalogues.

      So has someone taken her to court? If not it may still be possible to dispute her liability for the debt.

      If they have taken her to court and obtained a court order, it is too late to dispute the debt.

      If they have a court order they can attempt to arrest her wages. However, the first £529.90 is protected, so they can only arrest amounts over that.

      However, even if they attempt to arrest her account and it fails, her bank can apply a £25 charge (if they do this, ask it be refunded).

      If they arrest the account and there is more than £529.90 in the account, they can take the surplus up to the full amount owed.

      If they do this and the money is all social security benefits, the competency of the bank arrestment can be challenged by going to court. This is a free process and you want to get a money adviser to help her do this or visit your local law centre.

      I think it is best your daughter get good money advice from her local Citizen Advice Bureau or Local Authority Money Advice Service.

      You can get their details here (Citizen Advice Bureau or Local Authority Money Advice)

      If you need any further help, or have further information, come back on.

  26. Chris

    My wife and I are paying off council tax arrears. It has been taken at source from my wife’s account but, I recently received a letter advising me that I was going to be subject to an earnings arrestment order. My question is, can they take money from both our accounts at the same time ?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Chris

      Unfortunately, they can as you are both jointly and several liable for the debt, so they can recover it from either of you, or both of you.

      One way you could avoid this is to possibly look at a joint Debt Payment Programme under the Debt Arrangement Scheme. This is where you and your wife would look to include all your debts into a scheme and then just agree to make one payment towards all of your debts. This could be based on what you as a couple can afford.

      A Debt Payment Programme under the Debt Arrangement Scheme would also lift any wage arrestments that have been applied on you and your wife’s earnings.

  27. Lisa


    I had an email saying there was an arrestment on my bank account on 22nd of February. There was no money in my account, so the arrestment failed.

    I checked my account today and there is a court order fee of £25. Has my bank charged me that?

    I’ve emailed the debt company asking to set up a direct debit to pay the council tax debt, but not heard anything back yet.

    Just wondering what will happen going forward and what I should do?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Lisa

      Thanks for coming on.

      Unfortunately, the £25 charge is an administrative charge that is added by your bank. This is very frustrating, as although the law protects the first £494.01 in your account, when a Bank Arrestment is executed and there is not sufficient funds for the arrestment to succeed, your bank still charges you £25.

      Your Council Tax Arrears account will be with the Sheriff Officers who executed the Bank Arrestment. I am sorry to hear they have not got back to you, despite you trying to sort things out.

      I would suggest giving them a call, as otherwise, they could attempt another Bank Arrestment, or even an Earning Arrestment or Attachment. You would then not only be risking another bank charge of £25, but also the Sheriff Officers add fees to your debt every time they do so.

      However, when setting up a repayment plan, remember you also need to be paying your current council tax (and the next financial year is about to begin). If you don’t the risk is your arrears will just continue to increase.

      I would, therefore, contact your local authority and set up a direct debit for next years current council tax and see what that will cost you, then see what else you can afford to the Council Tax Arrears. If you are paying your current Council Tax and something towards your arrears, the debt should begin going down.

      However, the Sheriff Officers may insist on an amount you cannot afford. if this is the case, I would suggest contacting your local, free advice agency (if you contact your local authority, they will point you in the correct direction; or you can find your local Citizen Advice Bureau here). They will draft an income and expenditure and show what you can afford and may be able to negotiate with the Sheriff Officers on your behalf. They may also be able to advise you whether you should use a Statutory Moratorium whilst you are exploring your options.

  28. Cheryl

    I received a bank arrrestment order today.

    I am a student and the order was for £989.07.

    Is this stoppable at all?

    It is for council tax arrears and the company said it cannot be stopped by them, but the bank might.

    The bank said the company can stop it.

    I cannot afford to pay it all at once, but I did offer to set up a payment plan.

    Any help appreciated.


    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Cheryl

      Bank arrestment can be recalled or restricted, but only by the Sheriff Officers acting on the instructions of the creditors or the Sheriff Court.

      There are only certain grounds it can be done also.

      The first of these is it is unduly harsh (and the test for this is a hard one to meet, as the first £494.01 is protected. Also it is accepted that banks arrestments are by their nature harsh);

      The other grounds are it is not competent and by means of a notice of objection.

      This is harder point to argue as it usually has to be on technical legal grounds or all the money was social security benefits. There may also be an argument where it was a joint account and the other account holder wasn’t liable for the debt.

      Other than that they cannot be recalled.

      However, you mention you are a student. Have you checked if you are liable for Council Tax? If not your right to an exemption can be backdated.

      1. Cheryl


        Thanks for getting back to me.

        How do I go down the route of arguing it is unduly harsh? 

        It Seems like the only available choice I have.

        I’ve offered to set up payments, saying if the arrestment goes ahead it will cause undue hardship. I also have kids.

        I have applied for council tax benefit just this last week.

        1. Scottish Adviser

          Hi Cheryl

          If you can tell me what part of Scotland you live, I can direct you to you local advice agencies who will give you free assistance.

          Or you can find your local Citizen Advice Bureau here.

          I won’t lie, proving an arrestment is unduly harsh is not easy or quick and involves going to court (or having someone represent you, like a family member, friend or solicitor.) The best option is an advice worker, like a Money Adviser, if you cannot get a solicitor.

          The legislation that allows you to argue it is unduly harsh is section 73Q and section 73R of the Debtors (Scotland) Act 1987.

          You need to submit a form to your local Sheriff Court Clerk’s Office. The form is Form 63G, and is contained in the Act of Sederunt I have linked to below.

          As this is an application under the Debtors (Scotland) Act 1987 it is free to raise an action.

          The Sheriff clerk then sends it out to the Creditors and a hearing is set in front of a sheriff.

          At the hearing the creditor will normally be represented by their solicitors.

          You will be asked to explain why you think the arrestment was unduly harsh.

          You should prepare an income and expenditure showing how much money you have coming in and how much you spend on gas, electricity, food, rent etc. 

          You need to say who is living in the house and what ages they are. Are there any illnesses or disabilities? If so mention this as it may be relevant.

          Do you work or are you a full time student? This is important to mention.

          Is anyone else in the house working? 

          Essentially you need to show losing this money left you destitute and caused real hardship to you or to your children.

          They will argue they left you £494.01, so it wasn’t unduly harsh. Maybe just harsh, but the law allows it to be harsh.

          The Sheriff then decides. 

          I cannot stress enough how much it will help you if you get an experienced advice worker or solicitor to do it for you.

          The regulations with the application form is here.

          You also want to say what the source of the money was (student loan etc) and you can also argue it was unduly harsh, not just for you, but your kids.

          Regarding the Council Tax benefits, could you be entitled to an exemption from council tax altogether as a student?

          You can check your local council’s website about this. It’s different from benefits.

          Best of luck Cheryl and let me know how you get on.

          Below is the most relevant part of section 73R of the Debtors (Scotland) Act 1987.

          Hearing on application under section 73Q for release of property

          (1)At the hearing on an application under section 73Q(2) of this Act, the sheriff shall not make any order without first giving—
          (a)the creditor;
          (b)the arrestee; and
          (c)any other person appearing to the court to have an interest,
          an opportunity to be heard.

          (2)Subject to subsection (3) below, if the sheriff is satisfied that the arrestment is unduly harsh—
          (a)to the debtor; or
          (b)where the debtor is an individual, to any person such as is mentioned in subsection (4) below,
          the sheriff shall make an order such as is mentioned in section 73Q(2) of this Act.

          (3)Before making an order under subsection (2) above the sheriff shall have regard to all the circumstances including, in a case where the debtor is an individual and funds are attached—
          (a)the source of those funds; and
          (b)where the source of those funds is or includes earnings, whether an earnings arrestment, current maintenance arrestment or conjoined arrestment order is in effect in relation to those earnings.

          (4)The persons referred to in subsection (2)(b) above are—
          (a)a spouse of the debtor;
          (b)a person living together with the debtor as husband and wife;
          (c)a civil partner of the debtor;
          (d)a person living with the debtor in a relationship which has the characteristics of the relationship between a husband and wife except that the person and the debtor are of the same sex;
          (e)a child of the debtor under the age of 16 years, including—
          (i)a stepchild; and
          (ii)any child brought up or treated by the debtor or any person mentioned in paragraph (b), (c) or (d) above as a child of the debtor or, as the case may be, that person.

          1. Cheryl


            Thank you very much for all the advice.

            I am in Dundee.

            l have emailed my local citizens Advice Bureau today and I shall print off the form.

            Thank you very much for the help and advice

            1. Scottish Adviser

              No problem Cheryl

              You also have Dundee North Law Centre (their Facebook page can be viewed here) and Dundee City Council Money Advice.

              The Council service may not represent you in Court as your action is against the Council and the Court may see it as a conflict of interest.

              However, they will work in your best interests and will have contacts in the Council Tax department, so may be able to negotiate with them to avoid it going to court.

              Best of luck again.

  29. Billy


    I have had a bank arrestment made, where HMRC emptied my personal accounts, as I buried my head in the sand.

    I am now in a right mess regarding this.

    I ran my own business, but due to the arrestment I can no longer continue with it.

    Are HMRC are allowed to take any funds from a business account ?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Billy

      You don’t say what type of business you operate (for e.g. sole trader, Limited Company, Partnership etc.).

      However, if you have a business account for that business and the business owes National Insurance Contributions, VAT, Corporation Tax etc. HMRC can arrest the business account to recover it.

      As business accounts are not personal accounts, they do not need to leave the Minimum Protected Balance of £494.01 that they must where it is a personal account.

      If it is a Limited Company it is usually just the Company that is liable, so they cannot arrest your personal accounts, but where you are operating as a sole trader they could try and arrest your personal account also.

      If there is still amounts outstanding they could try and arrest the account again. Equally they could try other recovery action like an Earning Arrestment or an Attachment.

      I would suggest you contact the Business Debt Line for Scotland, which is a Charity and can give you free business debt advice.

      I hope this helps.

  30. Chris


    I have buried my head in the sand and have had Bank arrestment for £1,600 for late tax return from 2011!

    I owe £15,000.

    They are asking for returns for years 14,15,17 and 18.

    The last 2 I can do but the first 2 would be hard to get. If I pay off the £15,000 will they still pursue the other years?

    Would a moratorium be advisable to give me breathing space? At the end of 6 weeks grace would I have to go into a debt solution?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Chris

      Thanks for your questions.

      You are right to want to deal with this, as it will not go away and HMRC have a reputation as being a creditor who will move fast to recover funds.

      In terms of the tax years that you have not made a return for, they will still want these returned.

      They need them to establish the extent of your liability. This is normally a precursor to them entering any type of agreement with you.

      If you are not able to make these returns, they will probably base your liability on an estimate based on the type of activity you were involved in (e.g. taxi driver). HMRC have a very good understanding of what average incomes are for specific occupations and business types, so they base their estimates on this information.

      This, however, can be worse for you if you actually earned less, but, the only way to avoid this is to supply them with the returns.

      You will also probably have had penalities applied, so submitting your returns as soon as you can is advisable. If you cannot, you will need to tell them this.

      In terms of using a moratorium, this is an option, but I would speak to a money adviser and make sure you can get an appointment to see them first. The six weeks can pass quickly and once they are gone, they are gone. You will not be able to use the process again for another 12 months. You will then be left unprotected.

      The process for applying for a Statutory Moratorium is here and you can apply yourself without a money advisers help, but the responsibility is yours to make sure you use those six weeks wisely.

      You can find your local Citizen Advice Bureau here.

      Alternatively, contact you local authority and ask if they can give you details of your local money advice service, who should be able to help.

  31. James

    I had a bank arrestment carried out for council tax for the years 2013/14, for the sum of £323. The total balance owed was £623. I have explained I do not have receipts going as far back as that, but cannot seem to get anywhere with the local council tax office.

    I am also currently in a trust deed.

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi James

      If you signed your trust deed after 2013/14, speak with your trustee, as the council tax arrears should be covered by the trust deed.

      If these are council tax arrears you accrued after signing your trust deed, you will be held liable for them. If you are claiming you have already paid the council tax, you will need to provide receipts or some form of evidence. Sorry. Otherwise they will continue to pursue you for what is remaining.

  32. David


    Can you please tell me the process for arresting bank accounts for council tax arrears?

    I have just been told my bank account is going to be arrested.

    I have explained to them I have been trying to set up reduced payments to all my creditors but to no avail.

    My rent of £576 is now due. If they take £80 my rent will fail.

    I also have an overdraft with my bank which I work off.

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi David

      The process for arresting bank accounts for Council Tax arrears is the Sheriff Officers first serve on you a Summary Warrant.

      They then must serve you with a Charge for Payment which allows you 14 days to pay the debt.

      After the 14 days they can then execute diligence (legal enforcement), which includes executing a bank arrestment, arresting your wages or executing an attachment on property kept outside the home.

      If they arrest your bank account they can do so without further notice once the Charge expires. If your account is in overdraft on the date they execute the arrestment, it will fail. If the funds in your account are less than £494.01, it will fail. However, they can seize everything over and above that amount.

      If your worried about a bank account arrestment, you may want to look into registering a Statutory Moratorium which protects you from diligence like bank arrestments for six weeks and allows you to seek advice on how to deal with your debts. This may include accessing remedies like the Debt Arrangement Scheme.
      You can get help to do this through your local Citizen Advice Bureau, which you can find here.

  33. Violet

    My company recently (after chasing a client for unpaid invoices for months and followed all the correct simple procedure rules via the Sheriff Court) arranged a bank arrestment on this particular client which was successful.
    I understand that the funds are held for up to 14 weeks or until client signs the mandate releasing the funds earlier. Client has now contacted us to say he wishes to pay the debt from another account and would like us to arrange to lift the arrestment. Please can you advise if this is possible?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Violet

      Yes it should be possible.

      There is nothing specific in legislation allowing for this; however, if you speak with the Sheriff Officers that you instructed to execute the bank arrestment, they will advise you.

      If I had my creditor hat on (and sometimes I do if I am helping people who are pursuing their employers for non-payment of wages), I would advise you, having got yourself into the position you are in, you would not want to recall any arrestment until the funds are in your account. I am sure your Sheriff Officers will make this point to you.

      However, an easier way would be for the person that has had their funds arrested to sign the mandate authorising the funds to be released to you now. That way no one has to wait 14 weeks.

      If the person who has had their funds arrested then needs funds in that account, they can transfer them into it from the account they are proposing to pay you from.

  34. Martin

    Thank you very much, I will phone the Helpline.

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Happy to help Martin. The guys at Business Debt Helpline are very good and knowledgeable and I am sure will take good care of you.

  35. Martin

    An Arrestment was executed on our Business Bank Account just before Christmas. The bank took nearly all the money in our Instant Access savings account, but this was only about a quarter of what we owe the creditor. We had made a payment arrangement and had made one payment (that’s how they got the bank details) but not been able to keep it up. I assume that what you say about the minimum protected balance applies only to individuals, so I am not asking about that, but I would be grateful if you could tell me whether they can do this repeatedly until the debt is paid? The money they took had been saved for essential van repairs so affected the running of the business. We will obviously resume payments as soon as we can but it may not be immediately. Thank you.

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Martin

      Yes you are correct the Minimum Protected Balance only applies to accounts held by individuals, so doesn’t apply to business accounts.

      Also, unfortunately, they can keep arresting the account whilst there is still a debt outstanding.

      You don’t say what type of business it is your operating (limited company, partnership, sole trader etc.) as there may be options available to protect your business depending on the type of business model you have.

      You can call the Business Debt Scotland Helpline which is part of the Money Advice Trust, a registered charity that owns the National Debtline.

      They give free debt advice for businesses in Scotland.

  36. Christina

    Hi can my account be arrested even if I have an arrestment on my wages already coming off my pay before I get it into the bank?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Christina

      What you are describing is an Earning Arrestment followed by a Bank Arrestment. Basically, double diligence on the same funds.

      This is possible, although it might be possible to argue that the bank arrestment is unduly harsh as the earning arrestment has already been executed. This would need to be decided by a Sheriff.

      However, it is possible to request a Bank Arrestment is recalled or restricted on the grounds it is unduly harsh and this doesn’t cost anything and, hopefully your local advice agency or law centre will help you to do this.

      It may be if you get advice, your local advice agency can appeal to the creditor to release some if not all the funds. This would be quicker.

      You should contact your local Citizen Advice Bureau (you can find them here or local council and ask them who does free, face to face money advice in your area).

      Going forward you might want to look into the Debt Arrangement Scheme (What is the Debt Arrangement Scheme?). This will lift the earning arrestment and prevent any future bank arrestments.

      It will also freeze all interest and charges.

      There are a number of charities and also possibly your local council, that can set this up for you for free.

      It will allow you also to repay your debt at an affordable level, which can often be less harsh than an Earning Arrestment.

      Other solutions that may be suitable depending on your circumstances are Protected Trust Deeds (What is a Protected Trust Deed?) or Sequestration, but I would seek advice from a reputable advice agency first.

  37. Victoria

    I had an advance of universal credit yesterday to pay for essential living costs, whilst my claim is processed. The bulk of this has been taken as an arrestment to my bank account.
    Surely this can’t be legal? I now have a loan from DWP that I cannot use for the purpose it was given.
    Please help

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Good Morning Victoria.

      I am sorry to hear this. Basically, it depends on the circumstances.
      First the first £494.01 should be protected, so your account should not have been left empty.

      However, there is an argument that arresting funds over this amount can also be incompetent where it can be shown the funds are social security benefits only. So, for example, where the only money paid into the bank account are benefits, this may be possible. Where some of the funds are from other sources as well , it may not be possible, as the mixing of funds from different sources change the character of the funds.

      However, even if we can show the funds are purely benefits, this doesn’t mean we will necessarily win as Sheriff Officers argue, that although this was the law prior to 2008, when the law changed then to introduce the minimum protected amount (the £494.01), these common law protections for benefits disappeared. I am aware of a case in Aberdeen Sheriff Court where this is being tested at the moment, but it has not been decided yet.

      A better solution might be first get advice from your local advice agency and see if they can appeal to the creditor to get the funds released on the basis it is a UC advance and for them to take it will cause severe hardship.

      If this doesn’t work then to appeal to the Sheriff on the grounds the arrestment is A) incompetent; and, or, B) should be recalled or restricted on the basis it will cause undue hardship.

      You should contact your local Citizen Advice Bureau (you can find them here or local council and ask them who does free, face to face money advice in your area).

  38. Duncan

    Ive just had £340.00 taken from my bank account and stating this is a Transfer to Arrestment Scottish Courts and Tribunals, to Arrestment Funds Secured £340.00
    Ive had nothing in writing informing me this was going to happen, what reason or why this was going to happen and dont know why its been taken from my account.
    Is this normal practice ? is this legal ? how do I find out why it was taken and where it was paid to ?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Duncan.
      Sorry to hear this.
      It is called an Action of Arrestment and Furthcoming or bank arrestment. It is carried out by Sheriff Officers or Messenger at Arms on behalf of a creditor who is claiming you owe them money.
      If you contact your bank they should tell you who the Sheriff Officers are. If you then contact them, they should tell you who has instructed them to arrest your bank account.
      Depending on who it is the process varies slightly as to how they arrest your account. If it was for council tax, they should have served you a Summary Warrant and then a Charge for Payment first.
      If it was for a credit card or loan they should have taken you to court to get a court order first, but they don’t need to have served you a Charge for Payment first.
      There is also another process for certain types of debts like credit union loans that is called summary diligence.
      Essentially, the end result is the same. They freeze your account, but must leave you £494.01 in your account, which is the legally protected minimum balance.
      Over and above that they can arrest the full amount they are owed. The funds are then transferred into a fund to be held for 14 weeks. They will send you a form asking you release these funds to the creditors. You do not need to, but after the 14 weeks they are transferred automatically .
      The 14 weeks are to allow you to raise an objection through the courts that the action was not competent or is unduly harsh, or if it was a joint account, but not a joint debt, half the money belongs to someone else. Another argument may be the money in the account was wholly social security benefits, as there is an argument these types of funds cannot legally be arrested.
      You should seek advice about this if you want to explore it as an option from you local Citizen Advice Bureau or law centre. If there is still debt outstanding, you should seek advice also, as there is nothing to stop them doing another bank arrestment or even a wage arrestment or attachment.

      1. Duncan

        Hi again,

        thank you for your reply and advice, this all happened out of the blue with no notification by any means hence why I asked if it was legal to to this, surely someone should have made contact and informed me of what was going to happen, I dont know of any reason for this to have happened, Im retired and the only credit I have is for my car which is paid every month without fail by direct debit, I will contact my bank and ask who it was that made the order.

        1. Scottish Adviser

          Thanks Duncan. In 2007 the legislation was changed with a view to giving people some advance notice, by sending them what is called a Debt Advice and Infomation Package, but those provisions were never implemented as the fear was it would give people advance notice and they would move their money from their accounts.
          The only notice you are guaranteed, therefore, is usually a Charge for Payment (if it’s a council tax or a HMRC debt) or a court summons if it’s an ordinary debt. HMRC can also use a Summary Warrant, which means there is no court order, but still have to serve a Charge.
          It is strange that you have no idea who it could be, so I would chat with your bank.
          There is one other type of bank arrestment that can be used, which is quite unusual and that is called an arrestment on the dependence, which is where someone gets the power to arrest your account before they take you to court, so you may know nothing of it before it happens.
          As I say, sorry this has happened at this time of year, but the bank will give you the information you need as they will have been sent an arrestment schedule from the Sheriff Officers.
          If you need more personalised advice once you know, Citizen Advice Bureaux are good for this. If you have anymore questions, please come back on. Happy to help.

          1. Duncan

            I contacted my bank yesterday on their first day back and they told me there was a letter on its way to me tell me what it was arrested for.

            The letter arrived today from the banks head office in Bradford telling me the money had been arrested and put into another account for up to 14 weeks, there was also the court documents enclosed giving me the details and a phone number to contact them on if needed.

            The documents were from the Perth Sheriff Court and the arrestment related to a court fine from May 2018, where £200.00 of the fine had been paid by direst debit at £40.00 per month and the balance of £340.00 was unpaid. So this was arrested from my bank account, the big problem is that I’ve never been in Perth, I’ve never been to court, I’ve never been fined and the details they have weren’t mine, wrong name and wrong date of birth and wrong person.

            They have said the money will be returned back to my bank account, but what amazes me is how on earth can they just take money from someones bank account without checking they have the right person and the correct bank account?

            1. Scottish Adviser

              Hi Duncan

              I am shocked.

              I have never heard of anything like this.

              It seems incredible this could happen, particularly when you don’t even have the same name.

              I am wondering whether the mistake has been made by your bank or the Sheriff Officers?

              If it’s the Sheriff Officers mistake, the bank would not know, they would just do what the sheriff officer told them, as they are officers of the court.

              It’s a bit like the Police telling you they can do something. Most people would assume they are correct.

              However, if they did make the mistake I would suggest you have a right to not only an apology, but compensation for any financial loss and also upset and distress that has been caused.

              I would imagine any amounts would be modest, but they have denied you access to your own money with no apparent legal authority to do so.

              I would say this may be a case of what is known as, but rarely used as an action in Scotland, as wrongful diligence, a delictual wrongdoing, on the basis there was no proper authority to execute the diligence.

              If it was the Sheriff Officers that made the mistake, I would make a complaint to them and also possibly their professional body, the Society of Messenger at Arms and Sheriff Officers.

              You can in theory also write and complain to the Sheriff Principal at Perth Sheriff Court, who is the senior Judge in the Court, as it’s with Court’s authority (or lack of it) they acted.

              However, I am also thinking if the mistake has been made by your bank. Basically the Sheriff Officers have sent in the correct paperwork for another bank customer and the bank have applied the arrestment to the wrong account. This, without knowing all the details, seems more likely to me. If it was the bank I would definitely make a formal complaint. They will be embarrassed and will try resolve it quickly with you, as they know if they don’t you can take it to the Ombudsman.

              That aside I am glad you got it sorted quickly, which is the important thing for you

              1. Duncan


                It was the Sheriff Officers fault, they admitted it to me earlier on the phone.

                Now I’ve had more time to think about it I am disgusted that its happened and my daughter is fuming at what they did and made a point that what if the amount had been a lot greater and they had emptied my bank account? What if direct debits then couldn’t be paid? The bank have assured me they were only acting on the Sheriffs Document given to them.

                I am also wondering now will something like this affect my credit rating? Will it show up on my back details etc?

                I have to wait now on the person that will reverse everything, but she wont be in her office until Monday.

                1. Scottish Adviser

                  Hi Duncan.

                  You are correct to be annoyed. It occurred on Hogmanay, your were left without access to your funds over the holiday period. Your bank, you may find, have applied a £25 fee for administering the arrestment and you are entitled to be compensated for that, if they have, as you should not be out of pocket.

                  If you do want to make a complaint I would put it in writing to them (they will have an email address on their website) and also copy in the Society of Messenger at Arms and Sheriff Officers outlining what, if any, financial loss you suffered and any distress you suffered.

                  I would point out to them this appears to be wrongful diligence as they had no legal authority for what they did (it may be little used, but they will know this is an actionable delict – wrongdoing – in Scots Law) and be honest with them.

                  Tell them what you think it will take to make things right.

                  You may be happy with just an apology, but if you believe it warrants financial compensation for the upset and worry it caused you, then tell them that’s what you expect.

                  I cannot guarantee you will succeed, as I say I think it will only be a modest amount if they agree to it, but as they say if you don’t ask…. I would also say you are considering making a complaint to the Sheriff Principal at Perth Sheriff Court.

                  It is shocking and clearly a case of maladministration on their part that led to you, a completely innocent party, suffering a detriment.

                  In terms of your credit file, I don’t believe it will affect this, as the bank should not report it as you have not missed a payment on anything.

  39. Alison

    Is there a maximum that Sheriff Officers can take from your bank account?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Good Morning Alison

      Sheriff Officers can freeze your account for the full amount owed, providing it is over the Minimum Protected Balance. This includes, interest and any legal fees owed, including the cost of executing the arrestment.

      Bank arrestment are not like earning arrestments, they are not just limited to a percentage over the Minimum Protected Balance, but only to the amount they are owed.

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