Being owed money by an individual or company can negatively affect your cash flow and ability to pay your staff and creditors if you run a business. It’s important to ensure that others pay you what you are owed. Our debt recovery solicitors in Brighton and Hove can advise you on, or represent you in debt recovery claims.
What Is Debt Recovery?
Debt recovery proceedings seek to recover money owed to you from an individual or business. In England and Wales, this is normally done through the court, where the debt recover process is known as a ‘track’. Small claims below £10,000 go through the small claims track, larger sums of up to £25,000 go through the fast track, and sums above £25,000 go through the multi-track.
Our debt recovery solicitors advise if you are going through the fast or multi-track to seek legal advice as the costs and lengths of time involved in these processes are large and you want a solicitor to better your chances of a successful outcome.
Why Use A Debt Recovery Solicitor?
There are real benefits to using a solicitor to recover debt. First and foremost it sends a clear message to the debtor that you are serious about the debt and that you intend to collect.
For all debt claims in England and Wales there is a recognised pre-action protocol, which involves sending a pre-action letter, or ‘letter before action‘, to the debtor setting out your case. When the debtor receives the pre-action letter, they will normally choose either to pay the outstanding sum, or provide a reason not to.
It is at this point that our debt recovery solicitors can advise on the best method of recovering the debt at proportionate cost. On average, 89% of all Britton and Time Solicitors’ debt recovery cases settle without having to bring court proceedings.
If matters escalate, and you are forced to bring court proceedings, you’ll need a solicitor with knowledge of the legal system and what’s required to be successful. The burden of proof will be on the the claimant, so it’s crucial to present your case properly. Likewise, if you’re defending a debt recovery claim, you will need to adequately prove why you’re not liable to pay the debt. The burden of proof will shift to the defendant if you as the claimant put forward a compelling case.
What Are The Stages Of Debt Recovery?
There are normally 4 stages to debt recovery matters, including:
Stage 1: Pre-Action
The claimant sends a pre-action letter, or letter before action. Letters before action require the debtor to pay within 14 days if they are a business, or 30 days if they are an individual. If you’re looking to recover an overseas debt, then the time limits for payment vary and your debt recovery solicitor will advise.
Stage 2: Issuing the Claim
Depending on how much your claim is for, you will need to issue it in the county court or high court. The value of the debt will also directly impact the court fee that must be paid. Claims of up to £300 attract fees of £35, whereas a claim for over £200,000 will incur court fees of £10,000.
The court fees are determined on a sliding scale and our debt recovery solicitors can advise exactly how much you can expect to pay. We will also advise on how to claim interest and, in some cases, compensation.
Stage 3: Acknowledgement
Once the court has processed your claim and served it on the debtor, the debtor will have 14 days to file an acknowledgement with the court. Once acknowledgedm the debtor has 28 days from the date the claim form was served on them by the court (not from the date it was acknowledged) to send a defence.
There are two notable exceptions to this. One, the debtor can choose not to acknowledge service and simply file a defence within 14 days of service. And two, the debtor can not acknowledge service or send in a defence, in which case the claimant can request judgement.
Stage 4: Enforcement
Depending on what happens in the acknowledgement stage, the debtor will either pay or you will have to bring enforcement proceedings. These can be by way of a writ of control, a warrant of execution, statutory demand for companies, bankruptcy proceedings, winding up, attachment of earnings, charging order or third party debt order. Each have their individual benefits, and our debt recovery solicitors will be able to advise which is suitable either at the beginning of your case or once you become successful in obtaining a judgement.
In cases where more information is needed from the debtor, an application can be made to court that forces the debtor to attend court for questioning by the judge. This type of application becomes necessary when a debtor is proving difficult and you cannot ascertain their whereabouts or whether they have an income or assets. If a debtor does not attend court then they will likely be arrested for contempt of court.
How Can Britton and Time Solicitors Help?
Debt recovery is complicated. Our debt recover solicitors work with asset-based finance companies, large corporates and individuals and can advise on all of the following areas:
- Individual debt recovery for private clients
- Business debt recovery
- Financier’s debt recovery, and
- International debt recovery
- Debt recovery contract and general business practice advice
Contact our debt recovery solicitors today or call us on 01273 726951 to book an initial consultation.