Taking legal action

If you have a dispute with a co-owner that you have been unable to resolve through meetings and discussions, you can use mediation or go to the Sheriff Court to get resolution. The new Simple Procedure for legal claims does not need a solicitor. It covers claims up to £5,000.

Many owners hesitate to take legal action against co-owners fearing it will bring ill-feeling amongst owners.  But if an owner is refusing to pay their share of repair costs, then there are already problems and the new mediation-based approach now being adopted by the Courts may be the best way to restore harmony amongst owners.

Before considering legal action

Talk over the issue with someone knowledgeable but impartial.  Citizens Advice and local Advice Centres are set up to help with situations like this.

Find community advice near you

Community mediation schemes are available in a number of areas but you can also find private mediators.

Find out more about mediation

Consider your case carefully

  • did you use correct procedures in making decisions?
  • are you sure you have got the right person - double check ownership
  • do you feel able to prepare a case for a legal claim - if not, can you get help from an advice centre
  • how do you feel about paying the cost of having any order enforced if it is not complied with?

You also need to have some certainty that the person you are claiming against can pay:

  • if they own a house, your risks are greatly reduced but they may be mortgaged to the hilt and you may have to serve a notice of potential liability and wait until they sell the house to get your money back 
  • if you are claiming against a landlord, you may be able to seize the rental income to pay off what is owed to you

Find a solicitor

You don’t need a solicitor to use the Simple Procedure but you probably will to take an Ordinary Cause action on any claim over £5,000. You may find it useful to talk over your situation with a solicitor before going ahead with any particular course of action.

Search the Law Society of Scotland “Find a member” page. You can search by your area and “Houses, property and neighbours” for the area of law in which they specialise.

Law Society of Scotland

More about Solicitors

When can I use the Simple Procedure?

The claim must be for a sum under £5,000 (For claims over this amount, you need alternative procedures and professional help.)

You can also ask someone to do something (such as proving they have common insurance) as long as the cost of doing it yourself would be under £5,000

You do not need a solicitor - the Simple Procedure is designed to be used by ordinary people who have little legal knowledge and using legal representation is not encouraged. Sheriff Court staff are able to help with form filling but it will help to know some of the legal terms used and the outline procedure.

At the hearing itself, you can ask the court to allow either an unpaid  "lay representative" to speak on your behalf or an unpaid court supporter to sit with you to help you manage the case and give advice. 

Using the Simple Procedure to take court action