With high levels of debt increasingly hitting the headlines, the Scottish Government wanted to do something to help Scots with this problem. The Debtors (Scotland) Act 1987 had already introduced two forms of 'diligence stoppers’ (prevention of court action) - time to pay directions and time to pay orders. However, these were only available from the courts and only applied to single debts. They did not help people with more than one debt.
In 2004 a third 'diligence stopper', the Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS), was introduced. It allowed individuals with two or more debts to get help without having to go through the courts. DAS was introduced in 2002 by the Debt Arrangement and Attachment (Scotland) Act 2002 and brought into force in 2004 by the Debt Arrangement Scheme (Scotland) Regulations 2004.
Following consultation with stakeholders, a number of amendments to DAS were introduced in 2007 through the Debt Arrangement Scheme Amendment (Scotland) Regulation 2007. The main changes introduced at this time were intimations (a declaration by the debtor that they intend to apply for a DAS) and the freezing of interest, fees, penalties and charges.
The Debt Arrangement Scheme (Scotland) Regulations 2011 came into force on 1 July 2011 and consolidated existing DAS regulations, revoked all previous DAS regulations and introduce a number of changes. The 2011 changes included allowing debtors with a single debt or those who have granted a trust deed which has failed to become protected, to apply for DAS. Further changes have been introduced with effect from 2 July 2013 through the introduction of the Debt Arrangement Scheme (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2013. These changes include the earlier freezing of interest. Interest, fees and charges are now frozen from the date that the money adviser, or DAS Administrator, submits the application to creditors for approval. They also enable couples who are each liable for a debt which may be included in a DPP, to apply for a joint DPP if their relationship falls within the following criteria:
Debtors in a DAS DPP will also able to apply for a payment break for a period of up to six months, with the period of the DPP extended for an equal period, where circumstances specified below have resulted in a reduction in the debtor’s disposable income of 50% or more. The circumstances which for the purposes of a payment break are: