Our Dispute Resolution Team is experienced in pursuing claims for unpaid invoices or other debts and we shall be happy to assist you. As a firm we do not provide bulk debt recovery services and we treat each case on an individual basis.
The team is headed up by a Partner in the firm with over 25 years of experience in debt recovery work.
How we deal with debt recovery claims
If the debtor you are pursuing is an individual or a sole trader then it is required that you use the pre-action protocol for debt recovery. It is no longer possible to simply issue a 7 day letter to a debtor and tell them “to pay up or else” in these cases. The debtor has to be given at least 30 days to respond before court proceedings can be issued. Alternatively, if the debtor is a limited company or partnership there is no requirement to follow the protocol, but it can be good practice to do so, particularly in substantial cases as it helps to clarify issues at the outset.
- Our fees for taking your instructions, advising generally on your situation and drafting a pre-action protocol letter will be based on our hourly rates which range from £150 – £250 plus VAT and will usually require between two – three hours work. That will include meeting with you, taking full instructions about the debt that is owed and providing advice appropriate to the situation, as well as a letter of claim to comply with the Pre-action protocol on debt claims.
- If that does not produce a response then it will be necessary to consider court proceedings. There are several key stages that we will go through to pursue the matter, including:-
- Taking your initial instructions, reviewing the papers and advising you on merits and likely compensation and chances of recovery.
- Drafting the court proceedings, being the claim form and particulars of claim.
- Reviewing and advising on the claim or the response from the debtor.
- Entering Judgment in default where appropriate
- If a Defence is filed and the debtor contests the debt we will advise you concerning the merits of the defence, where applicable negotiating settlement, including advising you regarding making a Part 36 or Calderbank offers.
- Preparing or considering a schedule of loss.
- Preparing for (and attending) any preliminary hearings or other interlocutory applications.
- Where the claim is defended, exchanging documents with the other party and agreeing a bundle of documents.
- Taking witness statements and agreeing their content with witnesses.
- Preparing bundle of documents.
- Reviewing and advising on the other party’s witness statements.
- Preparation and attendance at the final hearing, including instructions to counsel where appropriate.
The stages set out above are o a guide of what may be involved and not all steps will be required in every case. Indeed, in many cases the debtor may refuse to respond at all, in which case it may be necessary to obtain a court judgment and then try to enforce it.
Our charges are based upon hourly rates, in a range of £150 to £210 plus VAT and for an undefended debt recovery claim, utilising the pre-action protocol and where there is no substantive dispute on the amount claimed, but it is still necessary to issue court proceedings to force payment, our fees will be in the region of £1,500-£3,000 plus VAT.
If the claim is defended and is contested all the way to a final hearing, the costs could be in the region of £10 – 15,000 plus VAT and might take 9 – 12 months to reach trial. If the case includes more complex factors such as:
- Substantial issues of dispute,
- More than one defendant,
- Expert evidence is needed, or
- The hearing lasts more than one day
Then our costs are likely to exceed that figure.
You will also need to pay the court fee for issuing the proceedings. The fee payable is calculated on a graduated scale. Please click on this link for the currently applicable fees.
If the debtor does not voluntarily pay the judgment and it is necessary to take enforcement proceedings (e.g. instructing bailiffs, applying for a charging order, or attachment of earnings orders) additional fees will apply and we can advise you of those if and when that becomes necessary.
In a claim which comes within the court’s small claims track (see above) if court proceedings are issued, the defendant disputes the debt and the matter proceeds to a final hearing, we anticipate our fees to be in the region of at least £5,000-£10,000 plus VAT and potentially significantly more again depending upon the complexity of the matter and the issues raised.