Having properly drafted terms of business can help to reduce disputes and improve the recovery of debts. Moreover, systems should be as tight as they can be. For some clients, we manage all business debts for a fixed monthly fee which can sometimes work out more cost-effective than employing a full-time credit controller. Before commencing any action against a debtor, you should consider the financial viability of the debtor. Indeed, it is sensible to give this consideration before even engaging with a client or customer, but that is not always possible.
For larger debts, we may recommend instructing an agent to investigate the financial means of the debtor. If it looks as though the debtor simply cannot pay, consideration should be given to commencing insolvency procedures, perhaps by service of a statutory demand. Sometimes the threat of insolvency is enough to persuade some businesses to pay. In other circumstances, putting the debtor through the insolvency process may be the only way to recover money from a debtor (even if it is only a proportion). If the debt is disputed, that dispute should be resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible. There is pre-action protocol in place to assist parties with this and consideration should always be given to resolving disputes through alternative methods that avoid litigation. If there is no dispute, and the debtor is likely to be able to afford to pay, court proceedings may be unavoidable. We can obtain a county court judgment or high court judgment against individuals and/or companies and enforce that through a variety of means (e.g. a charging order against land, an attachment of earnings order against employed debtors or a third party debt order to access known bank accounts). If the asserted defence is spurious, we can often get it struck out at court or obtain summary judgment without having to proceed all the way to a trial.
We are also very experienced in alternative dispute resolution procedures, such as mediation. For debts over £10,000, pursuit through the civil courts carries certain risks, including the risk of an adverse costs order. For debts of less than that, legal fees are not recoverable and are often irrecoverable. For undisputed debts we have developed our low cost, fixed fee debtcollector service. See www.debtcollector-lp.co.uk for further details.