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This guide outlines how to correctly serve court proceedings in Scotland. If you require assistance with service of proceedings in Scotland, we would be delighted to help.

Service of English & Welsh Proceedings in Scotland




Civil/Commercial proceedings

English Court

This section contains an overview on service of English proceedings in Scotland, for detailed rules see Part 6 of the CPR.

Initial steps

When filing a claim form for service in Scotland, it must be accompanied by a notice containing a statement of the grounds on which the claimant is entitled to serve the claim form out of the jurisdiction. Service can only be effected without this notice if the court gives permission.

The Particulars of Claim must be

  1. Contained in or served with the claim form; or
  2. Served separately on the defendant within 14 days after service of the claim form

Methods of service

If the defendant has a solicitor in Scotland who has confirmed they have instructions to accept service of the claim form (or the defendant provides the business address of their solicitor in Scotland and authorises service at that address), then the claim form must be served on the solicitor. Otherwise, the claim form may be served by:
  1. Personal Service – this can be carried out by Sheriff Officer (process server) in Scotland;
  2. first-class post, DX or other next-day delivery
  3. leaving it at a residential address or place of business given by the defendant
  4. fax or other means of electronic communication in accordance with Practice Direction 6A; or
  5. any method authorised by the court under rule 6.15.

The claimant must file a certificate of service in accordance with 6.17 within 21 days of service of the particulars of claim unless all defendants have filed acknowledgments of service within that time.

Time for response - If permission of the court is not required

  • An acknowledgement of service or admission must be filed within 21 days of service;
  • A defence must be filed within 35 days of service of the particulars of claim.

Otherwise, a defence must be filed within 21 days of service of the particulars of claim.

NB: the claimant may not obtain judgment against the defendant until the claimant files written evidence that the claim form has been duly served.



Service of Proceedings from and EU Court in Scotland





Court in a state party to the EU Service Regulation

(NB: Prevails over the Hague Convention)

Transmission method

Documents (translated into English) are sent to the claimant’s transmitting agency, who sends a request for service (see Annex 1 to the Regulation) to Scotland’s receiving agency, who will arrange service:

Scottish Government Justice Directorate
Central Authority & International Law Team
St. Andrew's House (GW15)

Service should be effected within 1 month, and if it cannot be effected within that time – the claimant’s transmitting agency must be informed, and attempts must continue to be made.

Postal Service

The claimant’s transmitting agency may also effect service by post using "registered letter with an acknowledgement of receipt or equivalent"

Judicial officer

Claimants can instruct judicial officers (process servers) directly (Messengers at Arms in Scotland) to effect service.

Diplomatic/consular channels

Service by the relevant diplomatic or consular channels is also permitted. It is recommended that the relevant agency is contacted directly for advice on procedures.


Service of Proceedings From a State Party To The Hague Convention In Scotland





International court in a state party to the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters

Request for service

The request for service is made by the court or solicitor of the requesting state, according to the law of that jurisdiction.

The request for service should conform to the Convention’s Model Form, and include:

  1. A Request for Service;
  2. A Certificate (in which the central authority or other competent authority of the requested state will set out the details of how service was effected);
  3. A Summary of the document to be served,
  4. All documents to be served in original and duplicate;
  5. A translation of the document to be served into English.


Service is carried out by the Central Authority.

The Central Authority for Scotland is:

Scottish Government Justice Directorate
Central Authority & International Law Team
St. Andrew's House (GW15)

The central authority of Scotland will serve the document or arrange to have it served by an appropriate agency by one of the following means:

  • By a method prescribed by Scots law (see below).
  • By a particular method requested by the applicant, unless such a method is incompatible with the law of Scotland.
  • By informal delivery to an addressee who accepts it voluntarily.
  • Service via request to the relevant consular or diplomatic channels.

Judicial officer

Any person interested in the proceedings, or judicial officers, officials or other competent persons of the requesting state can directly contact judicial officers, officials or "other competent persons" of Scotland to serve the document. This means that lawyers representing the claimant can instruct Messengers-at-Arms (Process Servers) to serve proceedings directly.

A certificate of service will be produced when service has been completed.


 Service of Scottish Proceedings in Scotland:





Sheriff Court

The court action is drafted by a solicitor and sent to the relevant Sheriff Court for warranting, together with an Inventory of Productions if appropriate.

The Sheriff will review the papers and issue a warrant. The court’s warrant contains the authority to serve the proceedings on the Defender(s).

Documents to be served:

  1. A copy of the warrant
  2. A copy of the warranted (stamped) writ
  3. A copy of any productions
  4. A completed citation in Form O4
  5. A partially completed Notice of Intention to Defend
  6.  (NID) in Form O7. (The remainder of the NID is then completed by the Defender and returned to the court (see below)).

Methods of service

  1. Acceptance of service by the Defender’s agent
  2. Postal

    Postal service must be effected by first class recorded delivery. The envelope must contain a notice which states that it contains a citation from the relevant Sheriff Court, with a return address for the Sheriff Clerk’s office in the event that service is unsuccessful.  If service is unsuccessful, the court will return the papers to the solicitor for re-service.

  3. Sheriff Officer (process server)

    Service by Sheriff Officer may be preferable if you are concerned postal service will be unsuccessful. Sheriff Officers can serve the writ by handing it to the Defender personally or depositing it at their address. The original writ, warrant, and productions should be sent to Sheriff Officers together with the copies to be served. The Sheriff Officer will return the originals.


Sheriff Court


Court of Session

The court action is drafted by an Advocate or Solicitor-Advocate and taken to the General Department of the Court of Session to be signetted, together with an Inventory of Productions or Schedule of Documents if appropriate.

The Judge will review the papers, and the signetted summons is collected from the General Department. This is the court’s authority to serve the proceedings on the Defender(s).

The summons then must be served on the Defender (with Form 13.7) within one year and one day of signetting. 

Methods of service:

  1. Personal Service – can be done by Messengers at Arms (process servers) in Scotland
  2. Postal service to the Defender’s dwellinghouse, place of business or registered office;
  3. Acceptance of service by defender’s solicitor.

When the summons is served on the Defender, a period of 21 days’ notice from service is given. At the end of the 21-day period, the summons can be ‘lodged for calling’. This involves returning the signetted summons to court (with a certificate of service) to formally activate the case. The summons must be lodged for calling within 1 year and 1 day of the end of the period of notice.



At MBM, we regularly act as Scottish agents for law firms in the rest of the UK and beyond. We can directly handle the service of any court proceedings that you wish to be served in Scotland. We guarantee that it will be done correctly and in compliance with Scots law. We have set up a dedicated hub with information useful to lawyers from other jurisdictions that may have questions about Scots Law.

Delighted to Help

At MBM, we advise other law firms and their clients on prescription regularly. We can offer you clear and concise advice on any prescription issues concerning a potential Scottish claim. We won’t sit on the fence, and the advice will be definitive. 

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