Our Debt Recovery team at HSR Solicitors is committed to offering a comprehensive, quick and cost-effective service for recovering the debts owed to you. Our dedicated team focuses exclusively on debt recovery. We will ensure that a solicitor oversees your case from start to finish and you will have direct contact with the solicitor from day one. You will have a single point of contact for advice and assistance on all aspects of recovery and enforcement on a continuous or one-off basis. The choice is yours.
Corporate and individual clients – a tailored solution
You may be an individual trying to recover a one-off debt or a company trying to tighten your credit control. We understand that every client has different needs and take it upon ourselves to tailor our services to suit you.
We take pride in the fact that our clients view us as a seamless extension to their credit control teams.
Credit control is a crucial area of business management and cash flow is the lifeblood of any business. As such our services are designed to meet the debt collection needs of businesses when payment problems arise.
What we can offer you
Our services are fully computerised, enabling us to manage and report on the progress of instructions quickly and efficiently.
We will update you throughout every stage of the debt recovery process and provide you with advice on the best options available for maximising your recovery. At the same time, we will keep you informed of costs on a continuous basis.
For corporate clients with voluminous/extensive debt recovery, we offer free initial telephone advice and if required we would be happy to visit you at your business premises to discuss your specific needs. A thorough insight of your business terms and conditions and understanding of the market in which you operate is key to our debt recovery success.
We can offer you a fixed fee service for invoiced debts which are undisputed. Our fixed fee debt recovery service may not apply to other types of recoveries, as it may not be possible to predict how many hours of work will be required to safely recover your debt and conclude your matter. Please contact our debt recovery solicitors on 020 7791 1111 for more details.
Debt recovery – strategy
There are many different ways in which we can recover your debts, these can range from a simple letter to litigation at court.
Our strategy will depend on the type of debtor you are pursuing, your previous connection /relations and how strongly you wish to pursue your debtor. We appreciate that you may wish to maintain business relations with some or all debtors, as such our solicitors will advise you on the best options available.
We recommend in all cases that a credit/status check is obtained to ascertain whether it is worth pursuing your debtor. A Companies House search or bankruptcy check may assist.
Our success rates
Some clients can achieve 100% of their debt recovered, whilst others may achieve 0%. It all depends on the nature of the debt, what supporting evidence you have to prove the debt, when the debt was incurred, what prior collection processes you have employed and the credit standing of the debtor. Prior to taking action, we will of course advise you upon the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
The Debt Recovery stages
The debt recovery stages can be divided as follows:
- Letter before action (Pre-action collection)
- Issue legal proceedings
- Judgment and enforcement
- Bankruptcy and insolvency
- Defended actions
Letters Before Action (LBAs)
We usually advise our clients to start off the recovery of their debt with a Letter Before Action (LBA). The LBA puts the debtor on notice that you are taking non-payment seriously, have sought legal advice and intend to proceed with further legal action if payment or payment proposals are not forthcoming.
An LBA from a solicitor can be the simple nudge that triggers the debtor to pay; for this reason, LBA’s can be a very cost-effective method of debt recovery.
We will give the debtor a fixed number of days to respond to the LBA. If the debtor does not respond and the LBA does not resolve the debt, we will advise you on the other debt recovery options available.
Pre-action conduct – Compliance with Civil Procedure Rules
If you have already served the debtor with a Final Demand threatening legal action and want to avoid any further delay by us sending an LBA we can issue a Claim straight away.
Before issuing a claim, we will ensure that Civil Procedure Rules as required by the courts have been complied. These procedures are set out in the Civil Procedure Rules and associated Pre-Action Protocols. You can access these rules by visiting http://www.justice.gov.uk/civil/procrules_fin/
We stress the importance of Pre Action Conduct to our clients as the consequences of non compliance can result in proceedings being stayed to allow steps which should have been taken to be taken, thus wasting valuable time and/or penalizing the party at fault with cost sanctions.
Issuing a claim at court
Once your LBA has expired, we can start legal proceedings for debts in the UK by issuing a Claim at court. Your claim can be for the debt owed, interest, compensation, and even costs.
A claim can be used for almost any sum of money, small or large. A claim at court is an effective way of recovering debt, especially where the debtor is unresponsive. The reason being that a claim requires a response from the debtor – if there is no response judgment can be entered in default and we can proceed with enforcing the debt.
If the debtor disputes the debt, the court forces a compulsory timetable on the debtor ensuring that the debtor does not drag on the matter indefinitely.
Alternatives to issuing a claim
Liquidation (in the case of companies) and bankruptcy (in the case of individuals) proceedings should only be commenced if the debt is over £750, AND the debt is not disputed. If the debt is disputed, the proper course of action would be to issue a claim.
This is the ultimate sanction for a debt owed – once a debtor is in liquidation or bankrupt, they must cease in business. All of their assets will automatically belong to a third party called an Official Receiver, whose role is to gather those assets in and pay out money to creditors in certain proportions.
Not all creditors will be paid out as some creditors have higher rights than others. More often than not there are not enough assets to be paid out to all creditors. As such, it can sometimes be the last resort – the prospect of getting money back is fairly slim except in certain circumstances.
We usually recommended insolvency where the sum owed is several thousand pounds , as the ancillary costs involved in these proceedings can be quite high.
The first step towards insolvency is serving the debtor with a Statutory Demand. The debtor will have 18 days to set aside the demand or 21 days to respond with payment or payment proposals. If neither action is taken by the debtor, we can proceed with serving the debtor with a winding up petition or a bankruptcy petition which will then be heard at court for the relevant order to be made.
Judgment will affect the debtor’s credit rating and remain on a public Register for 6 years, unless paid within 28 days.
We are able to advise you on which enforcement options are best for you. This really is a tailored service because each debtor, creditor and debt are different, the right enforcement tool is also different in each case.
Once you have judgment in your favour, you will have to commence enforcement proceedings to recover your money, if the debtor does not voluntarily pay up.
Your enforcement options are as follows:
Writ/Warrant of Execution (Bailiff)
This is an order placed against movable assets of the debtor which permits you to take those assets away from the debtor and sell them at public auction, with the free proceeds of the auction going to you to reduce the debt.
Different rules apply where the debtor is an individual, and the assets are at his home, but this can still be a very effective remedy.
Lodge an arrestment at a bank
This is an application whereby officers of the court serve a document with the debtor’s bank (if known). Once served, the bank freezes the debtor’s bank account. If the debtor then refuses to authorise the bank to pay the total funds in the account when it was frozen, then we can apply to court for an order authorising that money to be paid to you.
This is an order requiring the debtor to divulge more about his financial position. If the debtor does not comply with the order without lawful reason, this is contempt of court.
Third Party Debt Order This is similar to a bank arrestment, but applies to any third party who may owe the debtor money. This is particularly useful in cases where, for example, the debtor is a contractor on a job and you are a sub-contractor, and the debtor is owed money by the main employer. You can freeze that money in the employer’s hands, and the debtor must either authorise the employer to pay it to you, or you can ask the court for an order to that effect. Get a debt due to the debtor paid to you instead
This is an order which allows you to take a charge over the debtor’s asset e.g. his home. Once a charge is obtained your debt is secured against the debtor’s property.
This order prevents the debtor from selling his house or other land, without getting a discharge from you. You are entitled to insist upon payment in exchange for a discharge, so if the debtor wants to move house, or even if he wants to re-mortgage, you can be entitled to receive money out of the proceeds.
If the debtor then does not voluntarily come forward with payment or payment proposals, we can ask the court for an order allowing the sale of the property.
Attachment of Earnings Order
This is an order which permits you to have the debt paid out of the debtor’s earnings. Therefore, your debt is deducted at source and paid to you, either in a lump sum or in installments. This is appropriate where the debtor is an individual who is in employment. Officers of court will serve a document on the debtor’s employers, who must then send a fixed percentage of the debtor’s salary to you. The percentage depends on the amount of the debt and the size of the debtor’s pay packet, but the payments will continue until the debt is paid in full (or, of course, until the debtor loses his job).
Insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings
Insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings can only be commenced if you have judgment for a sum exceeding £750.
Please refer to section above for more details.
Disputed and defended claims will need to be resolved either by negotiation, alternative dispute resolution, (such a mediation where an experienced non-party steps in to assist with negotiations), or litigation.
We can assist you through all stages of the debt recovery process. For more information on the civil litigation process, please refer to the relevant sections of this website.
Debt recovery abroad
Our debt recovery solicitors can issue an initial letter before action to any address abroad. In some cases, this may settle your debt without the need to consider further action.
If you have a clause in your terms and conditions which states that the contract between you is governed by the law of England and Wales, our debt recovery team can help. Please contact our debt recovery department for further details and for an estimate of the likely cost on 020 7791 1111