Charge for Payment

Charge for Payments

A Charge for Payment is a  legal documents that is served in Scotland by Sheriff Officers and Messenger at Arms. They are served to formally demand payment of money and give only 14 days to make payment.  If the Charge is not complied with there are consequences.

When can a Charge for Payment be Served?

If a creditor raises a court action for payment of money and is successful in getting a court order (also known as a decree), then they can serve a Charge for Payment to demand full payment of the money.  First, however, they must extract the decree from the court, which they cannot do until 14 days have passed. This is to allow the consumer to appeal the decision if they choose.  If there is no appeal the extract decree can then be take to a Sheriff Officer or Messenger at Arms to be served on the consumer.
They then have 14 days to pay the debt in full. If they fail to make the payment, the creditor can then instruct the Sheriff Officers or Messenger at Arms to take further action. This includes executing:

an earning arrestment;
a bank account arrestment  (a Charge is only required where a summary warrant has been used); or
an attachment of property held outside the debtor’s home, including an attachment of a vehicle;

A Charge for Payment doesn't need to be served to execute an inhibition.

Summary Warrants

A Charge for Payment does not need to be served to execute a bank account arrestment, unless the debt is being recovered for council tax arrears or tax debts owed by HMRC using a Summary Warrant.

Summary Diligence

For certain types of debts, it is not necessary for the creditor to raise a court action before they serve a Charge for Payment. This is possible for debts which are not regulated by the Consumer Credit Act (such as credit cards and bank loans) using a procedure known as summary diligence.

To use the summary diligence procedure, the debtor must explicitly consent to the procedure being used when they take out the debt and it is most commonly used for debts which have been taken out when someone is acting in the course of a business, or where the debt is for a landlord’s guarantee or for a credit union loan.

The summary diligence procedure allows a creditor to register a debt for preservation and execution with the courts, most commonly in the Books of Council and Session. When the creditor believes the debtor has defaulted on the agreement they can extract the registered debt from the Books and deliver it to a Sheriff Officer or Messenger at Arms and instruct them to serve the Charge for Payment. Where the debtor disputes that they were in default, they can challenge the competency of the Charge, by applying for it to be suspended and reduced, whilst interdicting the creditor from taking any further enforcement action on the strength of it. This, however, is a complicated and legal advice should be sought from a solicitor.

Apparent Insolvency and Bankruptcy

A Charge for Payment is also an important document legally, as once it expires, it makes the debtor apparently insolvent.  This is a legal term, but importantly means the creditor (or indeed another creditor) can raise a petition for the sequestration (bankruptcy) of the debtor, providing the other conditions for making someone bankrupt have also been met. To use an expired Charge for Payment to sequestrate a debtor, the creditor must do so within 4 months of the Charge expiring.

Although to sequestrate a debtor a creditor must show £3,000 or more is owed by the debtor, it is not necessary for the debt contained in the Charge for Payment to be more than £3,000. The expired Charge proves apparent insolvency. Providing the creditor can show in total, including what is owed in other debts, is more than £3,000, the Charge can be relied upon in any bankruptcy petition.

How to Prevent a Charge for Payment being Served

If it is feared a creditor may serve a charge for payment, there are certain steps that can be taken to prevent them from doing so.  First, a statutory moratorium can be registered with the Accountant in Bankruptcy office, providing one has not already been registered within the last 12 months. This prevents creditors from taking any further enforcement action for a period of six weeks. This is a free process and can be done relatively quickly. Statutory moratoriums’, however, only allow some breathing space and it is incumbent on the debtor to obtain advice to find a more long-term solution.

Alternatively, where a court action has been raised, a Time to Pay Direction can be applied for before the court grants decree. If this is allowed by the court, it allows the debtor to enter an installment plan with the creditor and prevent them taking any further action, whilst it is being maintained.

How to Stop a Charge for Payment being used after it is Served

Again, a statutory moratorium can be used, even after a Charge for Payment has been served and has expired. Again, this is only possible if it has not already been used in the past 12 months and only allows six weeks breathing space to allow for a more permanent solution to be found.

Alternatively, even after a court order has been awarded, or a summary warrant granted, the debtor can apply for a time to pay order, which again, allows the debtor to enter an installment plan with the creditor and providing it is maintained, will prevent a Charge for Payment being relied upon for any further action.

Can the Debt Arrangement Scheme be used to stop a Charge for Payment?

The Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS) as a remedy, can be used to stop a Charge for Payment being served. As soon as an application has been made,  no Charge can be served for any debt that is included in the DAS. If the DAS is approved, the protection continues.

Readers Questions

  1. Ryan

    Hi there,
    I received a summary warrant notification due to a council tax installment that was overdue, asking me to pay the full the full amount for the remainder of the finical year, as well as a statutory fee of 10%. I immediately handed in an appeal to the council the next working day in order to dispute the decision, as I never even received a reminder for that payment.
    Despite of this, a sheriff officer served a charge for payment 14 days after notifying me of the summary warrant, charging me with additional fees for “sheriff officer expenses”. I got in touch with messengers-at-arms immediately after receiving the charge for payment, where I referred to the section “When can a Charge for Payment be Served?”, where it says “First, however, they must extract the decree from the court, which they cannot do until 14 days have passed. This is to allow the consumer to appeal the decision if they choose.”
    Since I immediately appealled to the summary warrant, I don’t see any legal basis to issue a charge for payment. The manager however claimed that a summary warrant was a totally different matter, and that they could seemingly serve a charge for payment whenever they wanted to, with no rules applying… which makes no sense to me whatsoever. I also pointed him out to the fact that the charge for payment was issued exactly 14 days after I was notified of the summary warrant, to which he replied that this was supposedly “just pure coincidence”. It’s needless to say that he came across as incredibly rude and condescending in general, which was also the impression that I got from the letters that I had received.
    I had numerous other complaints in regards the approach of the sheriff officers, but decided to end the conversation right there, as the manager did not even concede a single point. I then asked him to provide me with a reference via email to backup his claims, which he hasn’t done as of yet. Even if the council would come to the conclusion that the summary warrant holds ground after reviewing my appeal at a later stage (which I doubt)… I have already paid the full amount of outstanding council tax, as well as the statutory fee at this stage… so the dispute is only about the additional charges for so called sheriff officer expenses.
    So my question is: what is your take on this? And where can get help, if messengers-at-arms refuses to take the fee off of my balance?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Kevin

      First of all, sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

      Unfortunately, much of what the Council Manager has told you is actually correct.

      The Charge for Payment can be served on you immediately after a Summary Warrant is issued, as it is a special procedure used for Council Tax Debts. Other creditors, such as consumer credit creditors must take you to court first, get a court order and then wait 14 days (or one month if it for less than £5,000 as the Simple Procedure is used), before they extract the decree. They can then serve the Charge for Payment.

      It gets a bit more complex with Council Tax debt as you cannot appeal a Summary Warrant, which is the same a Court Order, but different in that it can only be used for tax debts owed to HMRC or Local Government. There is also not a court hearing for a Summary Warrant, whereas for a normal debt you can appeal it.

      What you are supposed to do in relation to Council Tax debt is if you think you were entitled to Council Tax Reduction benefit, you appeal that decision that possibly refused it. If you think you you were entitled to a discount or a exemption and that is refused, or if you think it is challengeable in any other way, you make a complaint to the Council and it is not resolved, you can make a complaint to the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman or make an appeal to the Local Valuation Appeals Tribunal.

      However, as you have said you have now paid the debt and the 10% surcharge, but not the Sheriff Officers fees. I would recommend coming to an agreement with the Sheriff Officers to pay off these fees, as they can still take further action to recover these from you using Diligence, which may result in more fees being applied.

      For more about Summary Warrants, see here.

      More about Council Tax debt can be found here.

  2. Eric

    Hi, I received a charge for payment order in 2016 but it was sent to an old address and I didn’t know about it until several months later so didn’t get a chance to defend it and I have never received any correspondence about it since. It shows on my credit file as a court decree and has incorrect first name. Can I get it removed?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Eric

      You can ask for any errors on your credit reference files to be corrected, but it seems unless your saying this debt was not yours and or the court order was not against you, you would be only asking for the name on your credit reference file to be corrected.

      In terms of the Charge for Payment, that is served on the back of a Court Order or a Summary Warrant,which is the equivalent of a court order. Charge for Payments only allow a creditor to bankrupt you for 4 months after they are served or to be used to execute Diligence for two years after they are served.

      However, as the debt lasts 20 years or more until paid, they can just serve another Charge for Payment.

      The problem you have is the debt is still owed and can be recovered and has been constituted by a court order or equivalent.

      To remove it from your credit reference file you would need to have the court order recalled and this would not be easy if at all possible. There would also be a cost to having it recalled, so unless your denying you owe the debt, it may be pointless.

      The information should come off your credit file after 6 years, but does not mean the debt cannot be recovered.

  3. Qaiser

    Hi there,

    I’ve been issued with a “Charge For Payment of Money” by the Sheriff Officer, on behalf of the council, for an unpaid PCN (Bus Lane Contravention).
    The fine is £90 plus a Charge Fee of £81.16, bridging the total amount to £171.16
    My question is, do i need to pay the Charge Fee? Can i just pay the fine?
    I think that the whole PCN incident was unfair, the council are just being opportunistic. But i think that it’s too late to appeal.
    Thanks for your help and support.

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Sorry Qaiser for the delay in getting back to you.

      I appear to have overlooked your message.

      The Charge Fee is a legal fee that is applied by the Sheriff Officers, so unfortunately does have to be paid.

      Again I am sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

  4. Brian

    Hi ,

    My wife has just been served with a charge for payment , the debt is an old catalogue account debt for just over £1000.

    She has a few medical conditions that have worsened in the last few years which required
    me to give up working to become her full time carer.

    Due to this we are both on benefits so money is very tight to say the least.

    We live in a rented home , have no assets and no savings. My wife doesn’t have a bank account
    so all the payments from the DWP go into my account.

    Can the sheriffs officer’s freeze my bank account and is it likely once they find out that there is no earnings they can arrest or bank account in my wife’s name that they
    apply for an exceptional Attachment order, as my wife is worried that they will start removing what little we have from our house.


    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Brian

      No they cannot arrest your account, if it’s just in your name, for a debt your wife has.

      The likliehood of an Exceptional Attachment Order is very low, but I obviously can never say it won’t happen.

      If that did happen, they would need to apply to Court so you would get plenty of notice and could get advice.

      Also, it is worth looking at what they can or cannot take (see here).

      If your worried about this debt, get advice from your local Citizen Advice Bureau or local Authority Money Advice Service. They may be able to negotiate the debt be written off based on your wife’s health.

  5. Alyn


    When a charge for payment of money is handed over by a sheriff office, can he hand it to anyone in the household? Or, should it be handed to the debtor in person?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Alyn

      The Charge for Payment can be handed to someone in the household, usually in an envelope, or posted through the letterbox.

      Preferably, it should be handed to the person themselves, but delievring to the address is normally acceptable.

      The key thing is you have received it, as now you can seek advice and there will be options available to you if you have a look at my post on Debt Solutions.

      1. Scottish Adviser

        Hi Chris

        It costs £15 to register an inhibition, assuming you already have a court order.

        However, Inhibitions will only work if the Company is planning to sell a property. Also they expire after 5 years and have to be renewed.

        There may be more effective ways of recovering a debt owed by a Company, so it may be worth having a chat with a firm or Sheriff Officers.

        More about registering an Inhibition can be found here.

    2. M Duncan


      I am in court for non payment of council tax.
      Sequestration proceedings.
      I offered to pay the charge for payment in court but the other side refused to accept offer.
      How can this be? Can they do that?
      What are the implications for the case continuing?

      1. Scottish Adviser


        You would likely need to pay the full debt that is owed to the creditor, rather than just the debt they have served the Charge for Payment for.

        The expired Charge for Payment proves apparent insolvency, which is one of the criteria they need to prove to make you bankrupt (sequestration).

        The next criteria is you must owe £3,000 or more when they raise the petition.

        They, therefore, would expect you to pay all the debt you owe them and also their expenses, to withdraw the petition.

        If you cannot stop the petition they will sequestrate you, or make you bankrupt.

        This can have serious implications for you especially if you own your home. It can put it at risk. You can find out more here.

        You will also likely lose any access to credit.

        One way you can stop a bankruptcy application (and there aren’t many) is to apply to the Debt Arrangement Scheme. If a proposal for that is accepted before the bankruptcy is awarded, you can avoid bankruptcy.

        My advice is you need to seek advice, and as soon as possible, otherwise you may be made bankrupt.

        You can get advice from your local Citizen Advice Bureau, or local Authority Money Advice Service or if you follow this Link, Carrington Dean can arrange to call you back and discuss all your options with you. None of these services will charge you for advice.

        1. M Duncan

          Thanks. I have a moratorium now with a view to obtaining a DAS. Will this prevent bankruptcy being awarded meantime?

          1. Scottish Adviser

            No, not if the petition has already been raised.

            Moratoriums only stop bankruptcy if they are applied for before the Petition for Sequestration is raised.

            It is in the hands of the Sheriff to decide if you should have time to apply for the Debt Arrangement Scheme. If it is awarded it will stop bankruptcy.

            Regardless of who you use to apply to the Debt Arrangement Scheme, it should be free as since November 2019, the Scottish Government have abolished private management fees.

  6. Chris


    I am wondering what action the council can take against someone who has already been through sequestration for credit card debts and continual non payment of council tax.

    I’m asking as I have a close family member with severe mental health issues who cannot work.

    The person concerned has no assets or cars and is living rent free in a mortgage free home owned by their parents.

    The family member also will never likely have anything near the minimum protected amount for a bank arrest.

    Is it unlikely the council can do much?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Chris

      In terms of bankrutpcy, any debts included up until the day the bankruptcy was awarded, can not be recovered during or after the bankruptcy from your relative.

      However, they will remain liable for any council tax arrears that accrue from after the day of the bankruptcy and can be recovered.

      Like you say, based on the circumstances the Council have few options to recover the debt, other than direct deductions from their benefits.

      However, what I would be concerned about is these debts will continue to accrue, so when their parents pass away, will they inherit the house and other assets, as if so at that point the council may have options, such as bankruptcy, which could put their home at risk.

      However, another things comes to mind, is this person receiving Council Tax Reduction benefit, or a Single Person Discount for Council Tax.

      Or alternatively would they qualify for a Severe Mental Impairment exemption? This may mean they are not liable at all. Click on the Link above to find out more and get directed to their local authority’s website on Exemptions and Discounts. If a SMI is awarded they should request it be backdated to the earliest point they became entitled to an SMI exemption.

      They Local Authority will have advice workers that can help them apply.

      1. Chris

        Thanks for the reply, I will pass on the info regarding the exemption you mentioned. A concern of mine was that I had read somewhere that getting into debt once sequestrated was a criminal issue. I’m aware that you cannot face jail in Scotland for council tax.

        1. Scottish Adviser

          Hi Chris

          No problem. It can be an offence to borrow more than £2k before you are discharged without informing the creditor you are bankrupt; or any amount where you already owe £1k.

          However, Council Tax Arrears are not borrowing, so running up further arrears is not an offence.

          It just won’t be covered by the Bankruptcy.

  7. kelvin

    Hi Alan

    I got a council tax summary warrant but I don’t have the money to pay as I’m a student and once I pay my bills there’s pretty much none left.

    What is the best way of sorting this out as I don’t want any arrestment on me. Also they mention Attachments and Exceptional Attachment Order.

    The bill is only £73 so not sure what to do.


    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Kelvin

      The first thing I would suggest you do is check you are liable for this debt.

      You say you are a student, so depending on the course you are on, you may be entitled to a student exemption. Contact your Council and ask when it was for and whether it was for a period you were a student and if your course exempts you.

      If you were living with someone else who was not a student and you would have been exempt, if you were living on your own, you cannot be held liable for the debt.

      Also check if you should have been receiving a single person discount, if you are not exempt as a student.

      Citizen Advice Scotland have a good online tool you can check to see if you are liable. You can access it here.

      If you are liable. I have pages on what they can do. Attachments are for property outside the home, like cars, but if your car is worth less than £3k and you have a reasonable requirement for it you can argue its exempt.

      Exceptional Attachment Orders are for property in the home, but extremely rare and only used as a last resort. There would have to be additional court action too, so I wouldn’t worry about it.

      The most common type of Diligence is bank arrestments, but the first £529.90 in your account is protected.

      You can find out more about recovery procedure on my page on Diligence.

      If you are liable for it you will need to pay something if you don’t want them to take further action.

      However, this could be as little as £5 per week if you cannot afford anymore, but they will want an income and expenditure, so I would contact your local Citizen Advice Bureau or local Authority Money Advice Service.

  8. Laura


    I have received a warning from a debt recovery company called debt recovery plus regarding a unpaid parking charge from Euro Car Parks at Hamilton Retail Park.

    I knew nothing about this because the letters have been sent to my old address. My neighbour posted this letter through my door on Sunday.

    It says Notice of Intended Court Action for payment of £160.

    I think this is unfair and many people I ask say I do not have to pay this and to ignore it as Euro Car Park will not sue. At the moment I have left my job and not in a position to pay.

    What do I do.


    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Laura

      Unfortunately, there is a popular myth that private private parking fines cannot legally be enforced and that firms don’t take you to Court.

      This is not true. There have been some landmark court cases, where it has been shown they can and do take people to Court and can also get court decrees (orders) against people.

      I would not, therefore, advise ignoring it.

      Also the sum seems very high, so I would be curious to know how this has been made up. Do you know what the original fine was and how they have arrived at this sum. It maybe that if Charges or Penalties have been applied these could be challenged as punitive.

      Private parking fines are basically service charges these Firms can claim under contract law, so they are not actually fines.

      When you enter a car park or park in a space controlled by them, then these Firms should have signs displaying their terms and conditions and when you park in the space you are considered to have accepted their terms and conditions.

      It should state the cost of parking and what the cost is if you overstay.

      Therefore, a contract is established. By overstaying the argument is, they can apply their service charges for overstating.

      What is possibly easier to challenge is if they start applying charges if you don’t pay. These it may be argued are penalties and are not allowed under contract law.

      So it is important to understand how the sum was arrived at.

      Also they should be able to produce evidence in the form of photos that you over stayed, so you should request they produce this and also check that evidence carefully.

      You can also appeal their demands if they are a member of a registered firm.

      I would recommend you read my page on Parking Charge Notices and seek advice from your local Citizen Advice Bureau or Local Money Agencies if you require further advice.

  9. Kirsty


    Rec’d a letter about not paying council tax. I called and set up payment plan with Scott and Co. they said this will stop it going further is this the case.

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Kirsty

      I think you have to take them at their word, now you have an agreement in place, but you cannot afford to miss any payments.

      You also have to make sure you have a payment in place for your current Council Tax Bill that becomes due in April.

      If you don’t, you debt will just become worse.

      If what you have agreed wont allow you to pay both at the same time, ask they reduce what you are paying towards your arrears at that time, so you can pay your current bill.

      If they are not helpful, contact your local Ciitizen Advice Bureaux or local authority money advice service for help to renegotiate your current agreement.

  10. Euan

    I’ve recieved a not unexpected charge for payment. I can pay it within the 14days (was waiting for funds to come through) . Is there anyway of avoiding the fee for the messenger at arms or do I just have to take that one on the chin?.
    Thanks in advance

  11. Cara


    I have had a charge of payment from sheriff officers for my council tax

    Before this though I just phoned up and made a direct debit for them to take a monthly payment? But I knew I was still getting the sheriff Officer letter.

    Do I need to do anything with the sheriff Officer letter, even though I’ve got a direct debit set up?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Cara

      It doesn’t sound to me like you need to do anything else if you have entered an agreement with them.

      For your own piece of mind you may want to confirm with them now you have received the Charge for Payment that no further action will be taken if you stick to the agreement.

      The significance of the Charge is after the 14 days expires, if you miss any payments they can move immediately for a wage arrestment or a bank account arrestment.

      The only way to avoid this is to “formalise” your agreement by applying for a “Time to Pay” which protects you and means they cannot take action until you go into arrears of 3 months.

      You should seek advice if you want to do that first from your local Citizen Advice Bureau of Local Authority Money Advice Service.

  12. Cara


    I have set up a payment plan with Scott and co but I still got served with a charge of payment from sheriff officers

    I had told the guy on the phone I have a direct debit sorted ? But do I need to do anything else with the letter I got sent it gave me 14 day’s to pay in full but I don’t have that sort of money Even when I set up a direct debit ?


  13. Jane

    Hi Alan

    When I rented my house I didn’t realise I had to put the deposit into a scheme and after I gave my tennant notice he lodge a complaint and was awarded a first Tier Tribunal decision where they held I should pay him 3 times his deposit amount.

    I have no funds to pay this all at once.

    I have now been served with a payment notice from sheriff officer and told I have to pay it all in 14 days. I don’t have the money to pay it all at once.

    I would like to set up a payment plan but don’t know who to contact to do this.

    Im also worried they arrest my wages or take my car or furniture from my home which I share with my daughters.

    Can you give me advise what I should do.

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Jane

      I am sorry about this.

      Renting your home can be complicated, especially if you are not a professional landlord.

      If you are letting it again you may wish to speak to a letting agent, who can manage all the legal issues for you for a fee.

      You can also visit the Shelter Scotland website that provides lots of helpful information or the Rights and Obligations of Private Residential Landlords.

      In terms of dealing with this debt the person to deal with is the Sheriff Officers.

      If they won’t accept a repayment plan, you can visit your local Citizen Advice Bureau or Local Authority Money Advice service and they can help you negotiate with them and will also take a holistic look at all your debts.

      One option may be to apply for a Time to Pay Order under the Debtors (Scotland) Act 1987 which allows you to apply to the Court for time to pay once a Charge for Payment has been served.

      As a rule of thumb the shorter the time you propose to repay the debt the more chance of success you have. It can be objected to and if it is objected to a hearing in front of a Sheriff may be necessary, but if it is approved, it stops all further Sheriff Officer action.

      If you have multiple other debts, there may be a more suitable option, so that is why you are best seeking advice before you do anything formal.

  14. Louise

    Hi Alan,

    I received a Charge for Payment this morning in regards to some Council Tax arrears.

    The arrears were being paid from my benefit, and under 2 months ago I applied for Universal Credit, which I believe stopped the payments direct from my benefit to my arrears.

    I have not had any Summary Warrants, letters from the council or Scott & Co prior to this morning’s sheriff officer visit.

    From reading your website, it seems that they must go to court prior to the Charge For Payment can be sent and that I must be afforded 14 days to appeal this. I have received no notification of this going to court or having 14 days to appeal it?

    I want to pay this in instalments and I am not happy about the extortionate sheriff officer charge that was added on, as I was never told about this in the first place, or I would have dealt with it immediately. Is the only way to solve this by applying for a ‘Time to Pay Direction’ through the court? Does this stop any proceedings until it has been either granted or denied by the court?

    Finally, can the sheriff officer fee for attending my property be appealed?


    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Louise

      I am sorry to hear this. I believe what has happened is when you benefits switched, the deduction for council tax arrears didn’t switch also.

      The first thing I would do is contact your Local Council and ask they set up a deduction for your Council Tax Arrears from your Universal Credit and ask they take no further action.

      In terms of the Summary Warrant this will have been granted and sent through the post possibly as early as June or July, if it was for this years Council Tax.

      You cannot appeal a Summary Warrant and there is no hearing. The reason is if you don’t think you were liable, or you should have had a discount or an exemption or even Coucil Tax Reduction, you appeal these decisions rather than the Summary Warrant.

      In terms of the Charge for Payment, this a form of Diligence.

      You cannot appeal this and the 14 days relate to the period the Charge gives you to pay the debt, otherwise you can face further Diligence like Earning Arrestments, Bank Arrestments etc.

      What I would suggest is you ask the Council to withdraw the Sheriff Officers Fee on the basis when your benefits changed they should have reapplied the deductions from your benefits for the arrears.

      If they refuse to, you could consider using their formal complaint procedure.

      Also make sure you are getting your full entitlement to Council Tax Reduction and a Single Person Discount if you are entitled to one. When you contact the Council ask them to check for you.

  15. Hayleigh

    Hi there

    I received a Charge for Payment through my door today for Council Tax.

    I’m stumped as I have been paying off the debt via a Scott and Co direct debit.

    I hadn’t realised I missed a payment until recently.

    I dont quite understand a Charge for Payment and the court and threatening words such as Bankruptcy has me panicked.

    Please some advice

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Hayleigb

      First thing is don’t be overly alarmed.

      I am not totally clear of your circumstances, but the Charge for Payment is for non-payment of Council Tax arrears.

      These could be this years arrears and you have not been paying your current Council Tax and just paying everything to Scott and Co for your arrears.

      This is a common problem as people just arrange with the Sheriff Officers to pay their arrears and ignore their current liability.

      This means the current liability becomes a debt stacked on top of other year debts.

      You need to be paying your current Council Tax debt every year and then something towards your arrears. Sheriff Officers are not the best at telling you this.

      My advice is go to your local Citizen Advice Bureau or Local Authority Money Advice Sevice and get yourself an affordable repayment plan.

  16. Charlie

    Hi there,

    I am looking for advice.

    I am a student and have been sent a charge for payment for council tax arrears.

    I was under the impression I had already applied for council tax exemption.

    I have however done this again now and put in the dates which I started university after receiving this letter.

    I am worried, however, as this payment is unfair and I do not owe this money.

    I haven’t ever had a letter from Council Tax this year stating that I haven’t paid.

    The council tax office don’t have my bank account details as I have never had dealings with them. Is it still possible they can arrest my bank account?

    I don’t work and rely on student loan to support myself and my 2 children.

    What can I do from here?

    Thanks in advance

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Charlie

      As your dispute relates to your liability and whether a Student Exemption Application has been properly applied, submit a letter of complaint to the Council and ask they place any further action on hold until your complaint is dealt with.

      I am assuming you live on your own and there is no other liable adults living in your home (otherwise it would be a Student Discount you applied for – 25% – although even if that is the case, depending on the circumstances of the other adult, they may be able to apply for Council Tax Reduction).

      I am also assuming you were a Student since April 2019, as that’s when the new financial year will have begun.

      Council Tax Bills should have been sent out in February or Match 2019, so if you haven’t received any correspondence, mention that in your complaint.

      The Council should deal with the complaint within 2 months. If they don’t or if they do and you are not happy with their proposed resolution of it, you can appeal it to the Valuation Tribunal.

      Just as a further piece of information, they will have wanted a stamped letter from you Insitute of learning as proof of your participation on your course. Do you know if you provided them with this. If you didn’t, I would speak to your University for proof of your enrolment on this course and give it to the Council and ask they backdate your exemption/discount to the date You began on the course.

      I am also assuming the arrears are for this financial years and do not relate to previous years.

      Finally, whilst the Charge for Payment is active and has not been put on hold there is a risk the Council could carry out further Diligence.

      If they don’t know where you bank account is this may make it more difficult for them, but bank account arrestments are only one of many options available to them.

  17. Sarah

    I’ve just had a charge for payment through the door. It is for credit card, which I was unable to pay off when I lost my DLA and associated premiums.

    The decree was granted in December 2018.

    I an not working due to ill health.

    I care for husband who has a long term MH illness.

    We’re on benefits with no other income and live in a council house, no assets.

    What can they do if I have nothing?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Sarah

      In theory they should not be able to do much. They cannot arrest your wages as you have none.

      However, they could try and freeze your bank account. If they do they could try and take anything over £529.90, the protected minimum balance.

      This could be challenged, but it is a lengthy process and unless it is, it will stand. If you have less than £529.90 in your account, it will fail, but you could get a £25 bank charge.

      I am assuming you don’t own a car.

      Depending on how much you owe you could be made Bankrupt, but if you are on benefits you won’t have to pay anything.

      The thing to remember is this debt will continue to increase, by at least 8% per annum and every time they try to do something, like serve a Charge for Payment they will add fees.

      I would suggest you contact your local Citizen Advice Bureau or Local Authority Money Advice Service and ask if they can write to them to explain your situation.

      If they are aware of it, the firm may be willing to give you some breathing space.

  18. Biz

    I have received a Charge for Payment for Business Rates on a property that my business used to rent until October 2018.

    But they have obtained the Charge for Payment in my name personally, while it was the company that operated the business from that address.
    Is this correct or should it have been in the business name and not me personally?
    If so, then what do I do to challenge and correct it.
    Thank you

    1. Scottish Adviser

      It will depend whose name the lease was under. If it was your name then you will be personally liable for the business rates.
      If it was in the name of the business, it will depend on the type of business. If you were a sole trader, you will be held personally liable.
      If it was a partnership, partners can be held personally liable for the debts of the Partnership; if it was a limited company, then the Company is liable.
      You can get free advice and assistance from the Business Debt Helpline, who are a Charity.

  19. Thomas


    I got a council parking fine, and I moved home, they sent the letters out to my old address and then served a charge for payment at my old address.

    It wasn’t until I got a bank charge for a failed bank account arrestment I was made aware of all this.

    I was told when they served the charge they made enquires and confirmed I lived there and posted it through the door, but I hadn’t lived there for more than 2 years.

    I got the parking fine and I will pay that, but is there anything I can do to dispute the charge for payment?


    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Thomas

      I don’t think so.

      They were entitled to serve a Charge after they got the court order. You could argue it wasn’t properly served, but that would require an action in Court (which would cost money and a lawyer and in my opinion would not succeed as they would argue they served it at your last known address and made appropriate enquiries).

      Unfortunately, these debts can quickly increase if you don’t settle them within the first couple of weeks, when you normally can pay a reduced amount.

      If you are struggling with the full amount, call them and set up a repayment plan so they don’t take further enforcement action and add more fees. As they will.

      1. Kirsty


        I am encountering the same issue.

        The creditor have had my details previously.

        Will this impact my credit file, despite little effort to try and contact me at my proper address?

  20. JOHN

    It is Hmrc and the date says sept 2019. A typo on their behalf.

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi John

      If it is HMRC, I am presuming they have served a Summary Warrant, as this is normal for them. If you check the Charge for Payment it should say this on it, rather than a decree.

      If it is a Summary Warrant, they were required to serve the Charge before doing the bank arrestment.

      The fact the Charge has the wrong date on it, is significant in my opinion as the date of a Charge for Payment is legally very important, as it’s from the date you can tell when they were allowed to take certain actions.

      For that reason I think you could raise an objection through the Sheriff Court on the grounds the arrestment is incompetent, as the Charge it was executed on contained significant errors as to the date.

      You do this by raising a notice of objection through the Sheriff Court. The cost of raising the action is free as it is done under the Debtors (Scotland) Act.

      See my page on challenging a bank arrestment here.

      I cannot obviously guarantee you will succeed, but I personally think you have a strong case and the funds arrested should be released to you.

      The problem is they will probably serve another Charge for Payment and also try and arrest your account again.

      You do need to think, therefore, about how you are going to address this debt and speak to a money adviser. They may suggest using the Statutory Moratorium procedure, whilst you consider all your options. Timing, however, is crucial, so I would suggest you get advice. They may also be able to help you submit your notice of objection.

      Find your local Citizen Advice Bureau here or contact your local Council and ask about their money advice services.

  21. JOHN


    I received a Charge for Payment from sheriff officers. It said on it, that it was issued on September 2019

    That is an error.

    I complained that the date is wrong, but they still arrested my bank account.

    Is the wrong date on a Charge for Payment grounds for appeal?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi John

      Quick question, if you don’t mind. What is the debt for?

      The reason I ask is if the debt is for Council Tax or a HMRC debt, where a Summary Warrant has been issued, a valid Charge for Payment has to be served first. If it is not for one of those types of debts, a bank arrestment does not require a Charge for Payment to be served first.

      So even if the Charge was invalid, the bank arrestment could still be valid.

  22. John


    I was issued a Charge for Payment a while back and came to an arrangement to pay the creditor, but have been unable to do this.

    Am I able to do a Moratorium to prevent any arrestments?

    Debt advice have said it will not work, because action has already been taken.

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi John

      There is no reason you cannot use a Moratorium, even if a Charge for Payment has previously been served and expired.

      What it cannot do is reverse what has already happened: the serving of the Charge, but it can still stop:

      Bank Arrestments;
      Earning Arrestments;
      Exceptional Attachment Orders; or
      Even a creditor raising a petition for your sequestration.

      The risk of someone trying to make you bankrupt may be reduced if the Charge was served over 4 months ago, as Creditors who want to use it to make you bankrupt have only 4 months to do so, then they need to serve another.

      Remember, though, the Moratorium is only a short term solution that lasts 42 days and can only be used once in any 12 month period.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.