Tackling your debts

What is diligence in Scotland and what can I do about it? Part 1

Posted 23 November 2015

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If you live in Scotland and you have problem debt, you’ll may have heard of diligence. Find out what it is here.

If you live in Scotland and you’re experiencing problem debt, you may have already seen the term diligence mentioned. If you have, and you’re wondering what it is and what you can do about it, this blog will explain all.

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Diligence is simply the Scottish legal term for debt enforcement action. It’s a technical term and describes a processes your lenders can use to try to recover their money if you’ve fallen behind with your payments. In order to use diligence to try to recover a debt your lender must first apply to the court for:

·         a decree – a court order for the money you owe, or

·         a summary warrant – used for non-payment of such things as income tax, national insurance, VAT and council tax debts

This court order gives the lender the authority to choose which method of diligence they want to use. However, before they do that, they must also serve you with a Charge for Payment and send a Debt Advice and Information Package to you. 

What is a Charge for Payment? 

This is a formal demand for the money owed, including costs and any other charges related to the original debt. It usually gives you 14 days to pay. If you’ve not paid the amount owing by the time the 14 days is up, your lender can then start a diligence process.  

What is a Debt Advice and Information Package?

This package is sent to you when one or more of your lenders is about to start a diligence process against you. They state in the package that one of the following things is about to happen:

·         Someone that you owe money to is using a legal process to get back what you owe; or

·         Someone that you owe money to intends to ask the court to make you bankrupt; or 

·         You have discussed entering a trust deed with an insolvency practitioner; or 

·         You have discussed the issue of a Certificate for Sequestration with an authorised person.

Source: Debt Advice and Information Package

It is a legal requirement that you are given this pack, which details where and how you can find help with your debts, before starting the diligence processes.  

Some debts, such as criminal fines, overpaid benefits and lease agreements are dealt with differently. If you have debts in any of these areas, please contact us for advice. In fact, if you’re worried about anything related to your finances, particularly problem debts, the best thing to do is speak to someone and we have trained advisers waiting to help. You can contact us using the options on the left of the page. You’ll feel so much better when you do. 

You can also get free, impartial advice from the Money Advice Service

by Shelley Bowers

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.