The findings of an independent review by Professor Russel Griggs could fuel concerns that SMEs have been getting a raw deal following moves by banks to rein in lending since the credit crunch.
A former chair of the CBI's SME council, Professor Griggs found 39.5% of 2177 appeals made to banks about credit applications in the year to April resulted in the lenders' modifying their decisions.
A report by Professor Griggs notes 7% of appeals were made by businesses in Scotland. It does not show what percentage of these was successful. Successful appeals did not necessarily result in the businesses getting exactly what they wanted.
Colin Borland, head of external affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland, said the findings would support claims that banks had become excessively risk averse since the credit crunch.
He said: "The fact that nearly 40% of appeals were overturned and the decisions replaced with something with which both parties could live, lends weight to that case."
Mr Borland noted the report indicated there is widespread ignorance about the appeals process.
He said: "What is worrying with this process is that, of the loan applications which were declined, only 2% were taken to appeal. If they are to restore faith with their small business customers, banks need to make them fully aware of their rights."
Professor Griggs said if more businesses knew they could appeal, more might apply for credit in the first place. But he noted that 86% of credit applications were approved in the year.
"From what I have seen, the banks are open for business but it is a different type of business than that which was done pre- 2008. This is good," said Mr Griggs.
The British Bankers' Association said the report demonstrated the strength of the appeals process and showed it has generated a better dialogue between banks and customers. "The vast majority of SMEs seeking finance are getting it," said the BBA.
Mr Griggs was appointed by the Better Business Finance organisation established by leading banks to review the system under which small business customers can appeal if they believe their loan application is unfairly rejected. This was introduced as one of 17 commitments made by big banks to the UK Government in 2010.