The Sheriffs Principal of Scotland issued a Guidance Note ("the Guidance") on 1 July 2022 concerning the management of heritable summary cause proceedings in the Sheriff Court under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001. The Guidance will apply to all heritable summary cause actions where recovery of possession is sought by a Party. It applies to sisted cases as well as those for which hearings have been assigned and will come into effect on 13 July 2022.

Summary of key changes:

Parties will be required to engage in "meaningful discussions" prior to a hearing being assigned

Parties to a heritable summary cause action must participate in "meaningful discussions with a view to resolution" prior to any hearing being assigned. Where resolution cannot be attained, parties must progress actions expeditiously.

Changes to continuation and adjournment periods

Actions can now only be continued or adjourned once and this will be for a maximum period of 12 weeks. This will bring substantial change to the Court's treatment of heritable cases in some Sheriffdoms where numerous continuation and adjournment periods are requested and granted throughout the course of a heritable action.

No sisting of cases

Under the Guidance, cases should only be sisted in exceptional circumstances.

Completion of Form A to avoid unnecessary court attendance

The Guidance encloses Form A in Appendix 1 which must be completed by the Social Landlord at least 2 working days prior to the calling of the action. The aim of Form A is to avoid unnecessary hearings. This document formalises the approach already taken in some Sheriffdoms to deal with matters administratively where there is an agreed position or where a matter is not controversial.

In-person procedural hearings

The Guidance sets out that the default position for all hearings of a procedural nature in heritable summary cause cases is that they will be conducted in-person. This is subject to a Court direction otherwise. The Guidance provides that if evidence is to be led at a hearing, the hearing will be in-person unless the Court directs otherwise.

The Court can facilitate participation in hearings on the calling date by electronic means, but notice must be given to the Sheriff Clerk at least 5 days in advance of the hearing.

Contributors

Fiona McLeod

Legal Director

Tony Convery

Associate