Letter before action
Unless otherwise instructed, we will send a letter on your behalf on every matter. We will usually give debtors 14 days to pay. When writing to an individual, we request payment within 14 days and advise that unless the matter is dealt with within 30 days, further action may be taken. This complies with the Pre-Action Protocol for Debt Claims which came in to force on 1 October 2017.
The usual recovery pattern for simple debts is that the majority of debtors pay once they receive a letter before action. However, a minority do not. In those cases. we usually recommend the issue of proceedings to recover the debt through the Courts. Where appropriate, however, we will review each situation on its merits and tailor our advice and recommendations accordingly.
It is vital to ensure that information you have concerning the identity, location and financial status of the debtor is accurate. The ability of the debtor to satisfy a judgment made in your favour is an extremely important issue. We can undertake a variety of checks on your behalf and we recommend that these are undertaken before the issue of proceedings. From a costs point of view, these checks are usually best undertaken after the date stipulated in the letter before action has passed.
Issuing Court Proceedings
We will issue most claims in the County Court but will also use the High Court where appropriate.
For claims issued since 1 April 2013, the "small claims track" limit has increased from £5,000 to £10,000. In these claims, usually only the Court fee and a fixed sum for legal costs are recoverable in successful claims."
We are able to claim interest on your behalf, whether at the Court rate of 8%, under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts Act or in accordance with your terms and conditions. Unless agreed otherwise, we will seek to recover interest under the Court rate of 8%.
Service of Proceedings
We will usually ask the Court to serve proceedings through the post. The defendant has 14 days to respond to the claim and up to 28 days to serve a defence.
If the defendant fails to acknowledge service or defend in time, you are entitled to enter judgment in default.
It will, therefore, be vital to notify us if you receive any money, since a judgment can affect the debtor's credit record.
This can be a key step in recovering your money. You do not want to get to this stage only to find that the debtor has insufficient funds to satisfy your judgment and costs. There are various methods of enforcement. We will often recommend a warrant in the County Court on all judgments below £600 and in the High Court for all judgments over £600. This involves the County Court Bailiff or High Court Enforcement Officer seeking to recover goods from the debtor to the value of the judgment debt. In our experience, this is usually the most effective method of enforcement.
Alternative enforcement options are available and our fees for these are set out in our typical fixed fee costs schedule.
Reports/Provision of Management Information
It is a key priority for our clients to be kept informed and we will often report on the following actions as a matter of course:
- On acknowledging instructions and confirming first letter sent
- On issuing proceedings
- On entering judgment
- On commencing enforcement
- On confirming the outcome of enforcement action
You also have the ability to instruct us online using our modern, bespoke debt recovery system, Nexum Client Online. Our system is entirely user friendly, intuitive and allows you access to review your matters online 24/7. Nexum allows you to generate your own management information reports, looking at various aspects of your matters.
Most of the costs associated with an undefended debt recovery case can be predicted. We will always advise you how much an action is likely to cost. We have developed a typical fixed costs programme, which offers exceptional value. A wholly successful undefended claim would cost you nothing.
Where a debtor is unable to pay its debts as they fall due, and you expect that they may be insolvent, the winding up and bankruptcy routes can be extremely effective. We would be happy to consider with you whether a matter might be suitable for this process.
We are able to issue and run proceedings abroad and we have access to an extensive network of international law firms, through two associations to which DMH Stallard belongs.
Click here to read more about our other dispute resolution and litigation services.