Debt and debt collection is a huge industry nowadays. More than half the adult population in the UK suffers from some kind of debt, and because of this enormous number, there are all sorts of different laws and legislations that surround debts and debt collection. It even varies from England to Scotland, which adds another layer of confusion.
One of the most important pieces of legislation that was bought into power is the debt arrangement and attachment Scotland Act 2002. But what does it mean, and how does this Act affect you?
Debt and Scotland
No one wants the bailiffs to turn up at the door and demand you pay back the money you might owe. Debt collection agencies who employ bailiffs are renowned for using tactics that are quite forceful, and can even be quite upsetting.
So much so, much of the legislation that surrounds debts and debt collectors in particular is largely focussed on keeping these agencies on a tighter leash, and addresses some of the hard-line tactics they use to recoup their money.
Citizens Advice Scotland
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) is Scotland’s largest independent advice bureau, and provides free, confidential, and impartial advice to anyone who calls them up. They had been working for years to try and introduce a debt arrangement scheme as an amendment to an existing act, but had often been unsuccessful.
For instance, they had a failed attempt to put forward an amendment at Westminster to the Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 1993, which would have allowed a person’s debt to be managed and to reduce the use of bailiffs. Their work led directly to the Debt Arrangement & Attachment (Scotland) Act 2002.
The creation of Scottish Parliament opened up an opportunity to pursue this campaign once again, however. The Abolition of Poindings and Warrant Sales Act 2001 was the first piece of legislation to be passed by this new government, which prevented warrant officers from removing people’s furniture to cover the costs of poll and council tax debts.
This opened up a much wider conversation about debt recovery, and gave the possibility for something like the debt arrangement and attachment Scotland Act 2002 to be contemplated seriously.
The CAS reported that people were being relentlessly pursued by creditors, some of whom had lent money irresponsibly. Before Scottish Parliament, it was extremely difficult to lobby Westminster for change, but with the establishment of Scottish Parliament, things became easier, and voices and concerns were finally heard.
Debt Arrangement & Attachment (Scotland) Act 2002
From 2000 to 2002, there were a series of meetings between representatives from CAS and the Minister for Social Justice, which discussed voluntary debt repayment programmes and the effect that this might have on people.
CAS was then invited to join a Scottish Parliament all-party working group, which was the first group of its kind. It was set up to look at an alternative to poindings (where a debt collector seizes property that makes up the value of the debt they are owed).
This platform was what gave birth to the development of the debt arrangement and attachment Scotland act 2002.
Debt Arrangement Scheme
The main thing that this act produced was the Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS). Introduced in 2004, the DAS is a debt management tool that allows people who owe money to debt collectors and other creditors to repay multiple different debts over an extended period of time.
The debt collectors and creditors are also prohibited from using legal force and debt enforcement by this act as well – this means that the debt collection agencies are not permitted to send bailiffs to your home, for instance.
Since the Debt Arrangement and Attachment (Scotland) Act 2002 has been introduced, there have been over 26,000 Debt Arrangement Schemes approved by Scottish Parliament.
Other information included in the Act
The Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS) is certainly one of the major parts of the debt arrangement and attachment (Scotland) act 2002. But what about the other parts of the act?
As with any governmental act or piece of legislation, the document itself is extremely dense and rather complex – the debt arrangement and attachment Scotland act 2002 can be viewed in its entirety on the ‘Legislation’ section of the GOV.UK website.
In short, the debt arrangement and attachment (Scotland) act 2002 is described as ‘an act of Scottish Parliament to provide a scheme under which individuals may arrange for their debts to be paid under payment programmes…’
Debt arrangement and attachment (Scotland) act 2002 – the five parts
The debt arrangement and attachment Scotland act 2002 is split into five separate parts, each focussing on a different piece of legislation.
Part 1 & 1A – the Debt Arrangement Scheme & interim attachment
This covers the aforementioned arrangement scheme that would permit the debtor to pay off multiple debts simultaneously. This is with the support of money advisors, and paid in accordance with a debt payment programme over a period of time
Part 2 – Attachment
Part 2 of the debt arrangement and attachment Scotland act 2002 introduces a new method of enforcement, or diligence, for the attachment of what’s known as ‘moveable’ property. Moveable property is property that is tangible, or corporeal (as they writ in the act) – it isn’t fixed like land or buildings, and it can be handled and moved – hence the ‘movability’ clause.
Part 3 – Attachment of articles kept in dwellinghouses: special procedure
Part 3 of the act enforces new legislation and laws that are to be followed when property is to be relinquished from a homestead. As the previous part of the Act stipulates though, it has to be property that can be ‘moved’.
Part 4 – Abolition of poindings and warrant sales
This part of the debt arrangement and attachment Scotland act 2002 makes provision for the abolition of poindings and warrant sales. It also repeals some of the provisions that are laid out in the Debtors (Scotland) Act 1987.
Part 5 – Miscellaneous and general
The fifth and final part of the debt arrangement and attachment (Scotland) act 2002 is simply something of a footnote to the preceding parts of the act. Namely, it details miscellaneous and general information that relates to the act.
So that’s a guide to the debt arrangement and attachment Scotland act 2002, which as you’ll see, is quite an important and fairly ground-breaking piece of legislation to come into play when handling debt in Scotland.
For more information about the debt arrangement and attachment (Scotland) act 2002, and whether you could benefit from it yourself, be sure to seek advice from Citizens Advice Scotland, using their Contact page to see where your nearest centre is.