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Scottish Diligence Statistics 2022-23

Latest annual official statistics on diligences and Charge for Payment based on information submitted by officers of court

Background information

Official statistics label

These official statistics provide key information on diligence in Scotland. Official statistics are produced by professional, independent statistical staff.

Official statistics are statistics produced by the UK Statistics Authority, government departments (including executive agencies), the Devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, any other person acting on behalf of the Crown or any other organisation named on an Official Statistics Order.

Official statistics should follow the Code of Practice for Statistics. They should also fall within the scope of the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR). OSR assesses their compliance against the Code of Practice.

Further information on the standards of official statistics in Scotland is available here(link is external)

Data sources, strengths and weaknesses of the data

These statistics are based on the information submitted by officers of court in 2022-23. General data on the use of inhibition is also supplied by Registers of Scotland for 2022-23. They cover the period following the COVID-19 pandemic in Scotland.

Officers of court need to submit diligence information each financial quarter. Information provided includes:

  • the number of Charge for Payments served
  • the number of diligences executed by warrant type
  • the number of diligences executed in each Sheriffdom

The Society of Messenger-at-Arms and Sheriff Officers (SMASO) directory identifies officers of court. In 2022-23, all members submitted data collection returns.

The published statistics are subject to disclosure control. See Section 84 of the Debtors (Scotland) Act 1987 and Code of Practice for Official Statistics for more information.

Relevant legislation

Diligence in Scotland is covered by the following legislation:

  • the Debtors (Scotland) Act 1987
  • the Debt Arrangement and Attachment (Scotland) Act 2002
  • the Bankruptcy and Diligence etc. (Scotland) Act 2007

As of 1 February 2015, local authorities no longer have the ability to collect Community Charge Debts. This is due to The Community Charge Debt (Scotland) Act 2015.



Relevance is the level that statistics meet the current and potential needs of users.

Section 84 of the Debtors (Scotland) Act 1987 requires officers of court to submit diligence returns to AiB. Diligence statistics are based on the returns submitted by officers of court. They include both Summary Warrant and Non-Summary Warrant procedures. This is also broken down by Sheriffdom and type of diligence processes. Sheriffdoms are geographical districts, each comprising the various courts in the area. This is the only available geographical dimension for this analysis.

It is important to note this publication does not include criminal court fines. The Fines Enforcement Officers are responsible for pursuing payment of fines. The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service collates these statistics. These are available at [SCTS Official Published Statistics]. (

AiB produces inhibition statistics based on the information supplied by Registers of Scotland.

AiB itself is a key user of AiB’s diligence statistics. These inform policy decision and development, ministerial briefings and answer public enquiries. Outside AiB, users are:

  • officers of court
  • the insolvency profession
  • debt advice agencies
  • local authorities
  • other government agencies
  • the general public

AiB has an online survey asking users for feedback on this statistics release. AiB use this survey to address user feedback and investigate if current statistics meet user needs.


Accuracy is the closeness between an estimated result and the (unknown) true value.

Officers of court need to submit diligence information each financial quarter. Information provided includes:

  • the number of Charge for Payments served
  • the number of diligences executed by warrant type
  • the number of diligences executed in each Sheriffdom

The Society of Messenger-at-Arms and Sheriff Officers (SMASO) directory identifies officers of court. In 2022-23, all members submitted data collection returns.

Data validation processes are in place to identify and resolve erroneous data inputs. These may occur when collecting data from officers of court. The processes ensure the accuracy and consistency of statistics within and between tables.

Timeliness and punctuality

Timeliness refers to the time gap between the publication date and the reference period for the statistics.

Punctuality is the time lag between the actual and planned dates of publication for the statistics.

Scottish Diligence Statistics were published every December. This was following the end of the financial year reported. It meant there were around a nine month gap between the end of the financial year and publication of statistics.

It is important that Official Statistics are released on a timely basis that meet the needs of users where practical. The time lag has reduced from nine months to approximately six months. There is an ongoing work programme to assess and improve the diligence statistics.

The exact publication date is pre-announced through a 12-month release calendar. This gives a specific release date at least four weeks in advance where practical – Official statistics: forthcoming publications - is external)

Accessibility and clarity

Accessibility is the ease with which users can access the statistics and data. It is also about the format data is available in and the availability of supporting information.

Clarity refers to the quality and sufficiency of the commentary. This includes illustrations, accompanying advice and technical details.

Scottish Diligence Statistics are available free of charge on the AiB website. They are published as HTML and a Word document via the website and ScotStat. The accompanying tables are also published in the Excel format. We aim to make our publications and accompanying tables as accessible as possible. If there are users who wish to receive our publication in a specific format please contact us. Contact details are at the beginning of our publication report.

It is important to ensure that statistics are presented in a clear, unambiguous way that supports and promotes use by all types of users. To this end, we have adopted the use of plain language as much as possible. The main findings are presented using a series of text and charts. Technical terms, acronyms and definitions are defined and explained when this is appropriate. These approaches would ensure that the statistics can be used effectively.

AiB does want readers and users’ feedback on any aspect of these statistics, and encourage them to complete our online survey or get in touch with us. Contact details and link to the online survey are at the beginning of our publication report.


Comparability is the degree to which statistics can be compared over time, region or another domain.

Diligence statistics can be compared between:

  • different type of diligence processes
  • type of warrant procedures
  • Sheriffdom

They can be used to identify trends over time since the financial year 2011-12.

Changes in legislation and policy may affect the extent to which comparisons can be made over time for individual data series. Such change might cause breaks in time series so that statistics from before and after the change are not comparable. Where these are known, they have been highlighted in the commentary and in the general background notes along with the implications for use made clear.


Coherence is the level which the statistical processes that generate two or more outputs use the same concepts and harmonised methods.

Scottish Diligence Statistics are the definitive source of statistics for diligences executed and Charge for Payment served in Scotland. These statistics include all warrant procedures and diligence processes.

The Society of Messenger-at-Arms and Sheriff Officers (SMASO) directory identifies officers of court. They are required to fill in the diligence information record template, which is consistent for all officers of court. This ensures that the data is consistent over time. It also allows that data to be comparable between Sheriffdoms within Scotland.

Due to the operational, policy and legislative changes across the UK, it is not possible to make direct comparisons. Users should be mindful of this caveat when making comparisons with other parts of the UK. The Money Advice Trust published their research on local authority debt collection practices in England and Wales: Money-Advice-Trust-Stop-The-Knock-2019-report-September-2019.pdf(link is external)

Revision Policy

The figures reported in this publication should be final and should not be revised in future. This is because they are based on the information submitted by officers of court.

Yet sometimes, when quality assuring the data for the latest years, errors in term of data classifications applied to any type of warrant procedures may come to light. In which case we may correct the erroneous data classifications in previous years. Any revisions that occur are marked with ‘r’ and an explanatory note in the relevant table. As is the current policy, revisions made for any other reason will be highlighted.

Before the Scottish Diligence Statistics 2020-21 report, we received late data returns from one officer of court for the financial year 2019-20, and so the 2019-20 figures are now updated. Also, we identified a few minor errors in related to data classifications for 2014-15, 2016-17 and 2017-18. If you wish to know more about the impact of these changes, please contact the AiB Statistics Team.

Useful links - outwith Accountant in Bankruptcy

Please note that when accessing the following links you will leave the Accountant in Bankruptcy website. Accountant in Bankruptcy and its staff are not responsible for content external to this website.

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