Disputes over money are an unwelcome part of life. Distracting, at best; Draining, at worst.
Cash flow is essential for any company. Businesses need to invest in growing and meeting their own obligations, and cannot afford to have money tied up in unpaid bills. Equally, individuals may find themselves in a situation where they are owed money by someone who has failed to adhere to a promise or agreement.
While high-value complex disputes are well-known for the challenges they present, there can equally be real issues at the other end of the scale too. Small claims (defined as money claims worth less than £10,000) can present their own problems for individuals and businesses.
If you are owed money by someone, whether in a business context or a private context, talk to us. At Eric Robinson Solicitors our expert team has many years experience recovering debts in all sorts of scenarios. Unlike some providers of debt recovery services, at Eric Robinson Solicitors a qualified and experienced lawyer will advise and support you throughout. We’re efficient and we’re professional.
We deal with every debt recovery situation with resolution in mind. To us, that means getting you the best possible terms as cost-effectively as possible, and with finality. And if we need to involve the courts then our expert lawyers have all the knowledge and experience you’ll need.
What is the cost of your debt recovery service?
Disputes are an unwelcome part of life. Distracting, at best; Draining, at worst. Chasing debts for unpaid invoices can hold up your business, add extra work, create uncertainty and affect cash flow. They also could have a damaging effect on your reputation as a business, especially in an age of active social media being open to everyone to express their opinion, whether correct or not. It is there essential to have good business terms and active debt management. For debt recovery advice that’s tailored to your business, call our team on 02380 226891.
The debt recovery team at Eric Robinson offer a fast and reliable service for chasing your debts. We have debt recovery specialists who regularly handle both disputed and undisputed debt recovery on a fixed fee service. Offering you the peace of mind that matters are dealt with efficiently and quickly.
Should a matter become disputed or complex our team professionally and efficiently deal with your claim and will also advise more thoroughly on business debt recovery, commercial debts, loan recovery services and prospects of recovery should this be required.
The Debt Recovery team consists of Elizabeth Eastley who is an Associate Solicitor and Elizabeth Waghorn who is a senior Legal Executive. Your matter would be dealt with by a qualified Solicitor or Legal Executive. Details of the individuals within the team and their qualifications and experience can be found at the bottom of this page.
These costs apply where your claim relates to an unpaid invoice or invoices which are not disputed and enforcement action is not needed. If the other party disputes your claim at any point, we will discuss any further work required and provide you with revised advice about costs which might be on a fixed fee or an hourly rate. The fixed fees set out below do not include giving you any advice about your claim.
Debt Recovery, up to £100,000. We will assist with the recovery of your debt claim from the sending of a letter before action through to enforcement of a judgment if necessary.
Our services include:
- Debt recovery for business
- Debt recovery for private individuals
The length of any given matter can vary dramatically on a case by case basis. In our experience, most non-contested (undefended) cases can take between seven days and six months. For defended cases the time frame can range up to eighteen months to two years. We will be able to provide you with a more accurate estimate once we have understood your particular circumstances.
What does it cost?
The fee information set out in this document relate specifically to those services mentioned and is indicative only. Once the full details relating to your particular matter are understood, we will provide a specific fee proposal to you. Once this has been accepted by you we will be providing you with a client engagement letter and terms of business. This will be the basis upon which we will deliver our services.
During the progress of any matter it is possible that fees may change, up or down, due to change in your instructions, or because it is necessary to reassess the level of complexity of the matter should new information come to light or circumstances change. Should this be the case, we would discuss this with you at the time and agree any changes before progressing. Any additional services required outside those set out in the Services section would be quoted separately on an individual basis.
The below costs apply where your claim relates to an unpaid invoice or invoices which are not disputed and enforcement action is not needed. If the other party disputes your claim at any point, we will discuss any further work required and provide you with revised advice about costs which might be on a fixed fee or an hourly rate. The fixed fees set out below do not include giving you any advice about your claim.
Stage 1 – pre action
Letter before action
Company debtor: letter before action: £150 plus VAT at 20% (£30)
Individual/sole trader debtor: letter of claim: £175 plus VAT at 20% (£35)
Letters before action sent to companies usually require the debtor to pay within 14 days, but letters to individuals provide for a 30 day period in accordance with guidelines laid down by the court.
Pre action debt recovery and assistance
We can assist you in corresponding with your debtor to resolve disputes and recover your debt without the need for legal action. We offer fixed fees at each stage of this process, which might involve a second letter demanding payment or lengthy negotiations to reach a Settlement Agreement or repayment plan.
Fixed fees for pre action assistance
Second letter of demand: £100 plus VAT at 20% (£20)
If there are then substantive discussions to reach a settlement, a further fee will be payable.
Pre action advice on recovery
We offer a fixed fee service for a one hour appointment to review your invoices and contract and advise you on the most effective method of recovery; the options available to you; pre action protocol requirements and your right to receive interest and compensation under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998.
Our fixed fee for this service for a one hour appointment is £125 plus VAT at 20% (£25)
If further advice is then required, in addition to the above appointment, a further fee will be payable.
Stage 2 – court action
Court claims – issue claim
Debt Court fee Eric Robinsons’ fee
Up to £300 £35 £90 plus VAT at 20%
£300-£500 £50 £90 plus VAT at 20%
£500-£1,000 £70 £110 plus VAT at 20%
£1,000 – £1,500 £80 £150 plus VAT at 20%
£1,500 – £3,000 £115 £150 plus VAT at 20%
£3,000 – £5,000 £205 £150 plus VAT at 20%
£5,000 – £10,000 £455 £300 plus VAT at 20%
£10,000 – £200,000 5% of claim £500 plus VAT at 20%
Anyone wishing to proceed with a claim should note that interest and compensation may take the debt into a higher banding with a higher cost. We will prepare and issue the claim on your behalf, based on your instructions, and after you have approved the claim form. Once the court has served the claim a debtor has 14 days in which to file a defence or enter an acknowledgement. After the 14 day period has expired a request can be made to the court for judgment to be entered providing the debtor has not filed an acknowledgement or a defence.
Request judgment – £75 plus VAT at 20% (£15)
If judgment is obtained but not paid, then further action will be required to enforce payment.
It usually takes the court about 10 or more working days to enter judgment, following receipt of a request to enter judgment.
Additional services if required:
Letter demanding payment of judgment: £25 plus VAT at 20% (£5)
- Warrant of Execution fixed costs (County Court): £100 plus VAT at 20 % (£20) plus Related third party costs: Court fee – £110
- Writ of control (High Court Enforcement Officers to seize goods in satisfaction of debt): £100 plus VAT at 20% (£20) plus Related third party costs: Court fee – £66, HCEO fee – £90 payable if the warrant is not successful
- Attachment of Earnings Order: £250 plus VAT at 20% (£50) plus Related third party costs: Court fee – £110
- Third Party Debt Orders: £500 plus VAT at 20% (£100) plus Related third party costs: Court fee – £110, Agents fee for hearing – depends on location
- Charging Order: £300 plus VAT at 20% (£60) (excluding hearing) plus Related third party costs: Court fee – £110, Agent’s fee for attendance at court if necessary – depends on location, Registration of charging order – £40, Search fee – £11
Issue of statutory demand for companies and individuals – £500 plus VAT at 20% (£100) plus Related third party costs: Process server fee – up to £250 plus VAT at 20% (£50)
What these fees do not include
Our fees do not include advice or action on any issues that do not relate to recovery of your debt or representation at hearings. Nor do they include complex cases or claims where defences or counterclaims are filed and served.
Most debt claims are claimed on the basis of contract law. Should a claim require advice of a different area of law, such as landlord and tenant or employment law, we reserve the right to charge on a different basis. We will always inform you of the likely costs and seek your authority before taking such steps.
Disbursements / Related third party costs
Disbursements are additional costs related to your matter that would typically be incurred by us on your behalf to ensure that the matter progresses in an efficient manner. These would be chargeable by us in addition to the fees set out above and will be required to be paid on account to us.
The disbursements that you can expect to be charged in respect of your matter are as follows:
- Trace agent fees: £25.00 to £70.00
- Other court fees: £100.00 to £255.00 (including VAT)
- HM Land Registry fee for registration of a charge: £45.00 (including VAT)
- Copies of a title register: £3.00 (including VAT)
- Hearing fees for advocates / Counsel: these are subject to papers, time frame and location and we will inform you of these fees at the time. These fees will vary.
Beyond what has already been stated, time scales will vary depending on what course of action is taken. If proceedings are begun, or enforcement action is taken, the time scales will be determined largely by the Civil Procedure Rules and by Court listings.
What is the process for recovering the debt I am owed?
If you are owed money then you may have to go through a process of asking for it nicely, demanding it, and then getting the court to help you recover it. There are different mechanisms for bringing civil claims.
If you are owed less than £10,000 and are just asking to be paid the money, and are not looking for some other remedy, then the Small Claims Track is for you.
If you are owed more than £10,000 then depending on the overall value of your claim you will need to use either the Fast Track or the Multi Track. Unfortunately these names have no bearing on the speed at which the court will process your claim however they will determine the steps that you will need to undertake in order to see your claim through to a successful conclusion.
At Eric Robinson Solicitors we can advise you at each and every step of the debt recovery process whether that be at the initial stages only; advising on the legal basis of a claim, giving guidance on drafting claims and defences, helping with strategy and process, or providing representation in court.
Who should I be pursuing for the debt?
The person bringing the claim is the “claimant”. The other party is the “defendant”. Sometimes there can be more than one defendant, and it is really important to think very carefully about this before issuing a claim. Make sure you are suing the right person and that you include everyone you should. Companies often have trading names which are different to their official legal names (and it is the legal name you’ll need to set out in the paperwork). So you will need to search Companies House to get these details right on your claim form.
Also, although you may think that your debt is owed by an individual, think about whether that person has been acting in their capacity as a director of a company. If they have been, then perhaps it is the company, rather than the individual, that is the proper defendant.
All names and contact details given in your claim form need to be correct. Once you send your claim form to the court, it will then be issued to the person at the address you have specified – so it is critical that the information you give is right. The court will also need your name and address to be correct so that it can be sure that you are the right claimant, and so that you can receive important correspondence.
What can I claim for?
You will need to state on your claim form the specific amount of money you say the defendant owes you, and why. Sometimes this will be obvious. Other times, you will need to do some calculations to work out your actual losses. You will also need to take account of rules on what can and can’t be recovered. For example, where you have provided services to another company and your invoice hasn’t been paid, any VAT included in that invoice should be claimed from the defendant as well. However, if you had been promised the opportunity to provide services but had not actually done so, your claim would be for the loss of profits alone (no VAT).
When is the appropriate time to start a claim?
Not too soon and not too late. Helpful? In all seriousness, judging when to issue a claim can be tricky. Because court proceedings should always be the last resort, you will need to make sure that you have tried as hard as you can to get your opponent to pay up before issuing a claim. That means talking to them, writing to them, and making sure they know exactly what you say they owe.
The Court will always encourage parties to set out their claim in writing and give the other a proper opportunity to respond before starting legal action. Share information and disclose any relevant documents before issuing your claim – it could help bring matters to a close. Also explore Alternative Dispute Resolution methods like mediation which involve impartial third parties working with you to resolve the dispute.
Take a look at the ‘Practice Direction on Pre-Action Conduct’ on before you start Court proceedings – you will need to comply with it. Remember too, that strict time limits apply to issuing claims and so you will need to carefully check the deadline for yours.
Where do I issue the claim?
You will start your claim by filling in an N1 Claim Form. You should be able to pick one up from your local county court or download it via the Ministry of Justice website. You will also find a service called Money Claims Online that allows you to issue a claim via its website.
A fee will be payable when you issue the claim, and further fees kick in as the claim progresses. The Court fee for starting claims through the Money Claim Online service is lower than the paper-based version.
What do I need to specify within my claim?
The claim form will ask you to summarise what you are owed and why. This is known as the Particulars of Claim. Remember that the court has no background information about you, your business or circumstances and so will rely entirely on the information you give here. Setting out your claim logically and coherently will improve your chances of success. For example, if you believe that there was a contract for you to provide services to the defendant, make sure to specify:
– how that contract was formed
– which terms of the contract you are relying on
– how you believe you have fulfilled your obligations under the contract
– how the defendant has failed to fulfil their obligations.
It is not enough just to say that you have an unpaid invoice. You need to be clear about why you believe that the defendant should pay that invoice.
Does my case need to be properly presented?
Every communication you have with the court – from your claim form, to your letters, to the way you present your case – is a reflection on you and your claim. The best types of claims are those which are expressed clearly, in a business-like and professional style.
The dispute may be personal, and you are likely to be frustrated, but the court is looking at the legal merits of your claim and not at what a dreadful person you say the defendant is. It really pays to understand the legal basis of your claim, what you need to prove and to stick to the point. Judges have a fair degree of patience and understanding but the more focused you remain on what really matters, the easier the ride will be.
What happens after you have issued your claim?
Once the court has sent the defendant your claim form, you will need to wait for a response. There are four ways this could go. The first is that you hear nothing within the 14 day timescale; if that happens you can apply to the court for a judgement against the defendant which means they will be forced to pay up. The second possibility is that the defendant files an “Acknowledgement of Service” within 14 days and they then have another 14 days in which to file a Defence. The third possibility is that they confirm that they will accept all or some of your claim. The final possible course of action is that they file a Defence at court. That is a brief explanation of why they dispute your claim.
If the defendant files a Defence, it is a good idea to consult a solicitor to advise on the process and ways of winning your claim. The court will ask you to do certain things – like file witness statements – at certain times before the final hearing, and it is important to meet these deadlines. You will have some say in these steps by completing a “Directions Questionnaire”.
Depending on how the defendant has responded to your claim form, them court may grant your claim in full or set a date for a hearing, at which you and the defendant may be asked to give evidence and put your case forward.
Can I claim for my legal costs and expenses?
If you win your claim, the judge will make an offical order that the defendant must pay you a certain amount of money within a certain time period, often one month. This amount can include your legal costs and expenses such as your court fees, reasonable travelling expenses, the cost of staying overnight if relevant, and up to £90 for loss of earnings if you had to take time off to attend court.
If you lose your claim, you may be ordered to pay some or all of the defendant’s legal costs expenses.
What happens if the judgement debt is not paid?
Winning your claim doesn’t necessarily mean you will see your money. The defendant might refuse, or be unable, to pay. If that happens then you will need to decide whether to pursue this further or to write off the debt. That decision usually hinges on cost. Forcing someone to hand over money can be difficult and expensive, but you might feel it is worth it if you are owed a significant amount of money or you are happy to pay out of principle. But if the defendant hasn’t actually got the money to pay you, it may be that there’s little point taking things any further.
This is the sort of issue we will be able to help with; our dispute resolution lawyers are used to advising on situations in which debtors are reluctant or unable to pay. Talk to us about our debt recovery service.
Can’t see what you’re looking for?
Send us your questions via the contact form and we will be happy to assist.
Your message has been received. We will get back to you shortly.Send another enquiry
Client Complaints Solicitor
Dispute Resolution Department