small claims
case digest

Guaranteed Trade Co., -v- Melvin 1993 SCLR 578


Issue - where a party fails to appear or be represented at a hearing (after a defence has been stated) the court must fix a special hearing - a party must show 'cause' at this hearing for his non-appearance, or decree may be granted against him.

Does 'cause' have to be 'good cause' or simply an excuse?

P failed to appear at a hearing; a special hearing was fixed. P explained one of theri employees forgot to tell them about this hearing. Sheriff granted decree absolving D on the basis P failed to show 'cause' for non-appearance. P appealed on the basis, the terms of rule 23(3)(b) did not mention 'good cause' only 'cause'.

Sheriff Principal held although the small claims rules had omitted the adjective 'good', nevertheless rule 23(3)(b) should be construed as 'good cause'.

Accordingly, the Sheriff was entitled to grant decree in favour of D.