If your offer is not accepted by the lender a Court Date will be set to hear your Time Order Application.

At the hearing you can be represented by yourself, as a party litigant and, if you want, be supported by a Lay Support, who can be a friend or family member.

Lay Supports are not allowed to speak, but can stand with you, help you prepare you paperwork and quietly give you moral support and advice.

Lay Supports must be approved by the Court, so they may ask who they are.

Alternatively, you can be supported by a Lay Representative.

A Lay Representative is someone who is not a solicitor, but can speak on your behalf and make your case for you. They cannot charge a fee and you must accompany them.

They are normally a Citizen Advice Bureau adviser or a Money Adviser. They also have to be authorised beforehand by the Sheriff. They do this by completing a form and submitting it to the Court.

Finally, you can be represented by a Solicitor, but there may be a cost to this.

Attending the Court

When you attend the Court you will be given a date and time to attend. You should give yourself plenty of time.

There will likely be a number of cases being heard on that day, so you just need to sit in the public gallery and wait for your name to be called.  Once it is called, you should stand up and walk towards the bench and identify who you are to the Sheriff.

Normally, when the lender has raised the Court Action, their solicitor will speak first and outline their case.  It is important to not interrupt and only speak when the Sheriff tells you to (even if you disagree with what the other party is saying ).

If you have raised a "stand alone" action, technically it should be you that speaks first to explain why you made the application; but in practice, if the other party is represented by a solicitor, the Sheriff will normally let them speak first, as it will be assumed they will be of more assistance in setting the scene for the Court.

The Sheriff will not decide the case without allowing you time to speak and may ask you questions and ask you for copies of any paperwork.

When addressing the Sheriff it is acceptable to do so by saying "Sir" or "Madam" or "Your Lordship" or "Your Ladyship".

What should you ask for?

When you speak, you should tell the Sheriff clearly what it is you want: a Time Order under section 129 of the Consumer Credit Act and what your proposal is.

You may want to briefly explain why you got into arrears and why it is important for you to have Time to Pay.

What are the Sheriff's Options

The Sheriff's options are:

  • Grant the Time Order as requested;
  • Refuse the Time Order and grant a court order against you for the money owed and for any vehicle (in the case of a Hire Purchase Agreement) to be returned to the lender;
  • Continue the case to hear more evidence or allow you to make your first payment.  They will also set another date to hear the case again.

If the Sheriff grants the Time Order, it is important for you to request the court doesn't grant a suspended Court Order for payment of the money owed against you.  This means a Court Order that cannot be used providing you stick to the terms of the Time Order.

Instead you want ask the Court to dismiss the action, or to sist it (suspend it) to allow your proposed payments to be made.

This final point is important, as it will mean you don't get a Court Order against you.

If you circumstances then change and you miss a payment, the lender cannot just enforce the Court Order, but has to bring the matter in front of the Sheriff again and you will be given the opportunity to be heard.