In the UK, if you want to recover a debt, there may be several options available to you. These will depend on:
- Who owes you the money (a company or an individual) (known as the ‘debtor’);
- Where the debtor is located;
- How much money you are owed;
- How long you have been owed the money (any evidence of the debt) ; and,
- If the debtor is not bankrupt and has assets.
If you do not know the answers to these questions, we can help you find out. There are several ways we can investigate the debtor, including checking property and company records.
Once you know it is financially worthwhile pursuing your money, there could be several different routes to get it back. In this article, we explore two options, which are often the most effective. Other options will be explored next week.
1. Starting court proceedings
Often it is the case that a solicitor’s letter, explaining the debt, demanding payment and setting out the law, is enough to get a debtor to pay.
If that letter does not work, depending on the amount owed and other circumstances, starting a court claim can be a simple and effective next step. It is however one which needs to be done carefully, as small errors in court documents can result in the entire claim failing.
We will explore the different court options further in next week’s article. If the debt is high value, the court process is different to low value claims and will generally take longer, during which time the financial circumstances of the debtor can change. In such cases, it is more important to instruct solicitors to ensure any court applications securing the debtor’s assets can be made in time, before the debtor becomes worthless financially.
2. Statutory Demand
A statutory demand is used to demand payment of a debt from an individual or company.
Whilst it looks simple, there are procedural and technical requirements that must be met for legal effect. For example:
- The debt must not be more than 6 years old; and,
- The document has to be properly ‘served’ on the individual or company debtor.
When the debtor receives a statutory demand, they have 21 days to either pay the debt or reach an agreement with the creditor to pay. If neither of these happen, the creditor has four months to start bankruptcy proceedings against any individual that owes £5,000 or more; or winding-up proceedings against a company that owes £750 or more.
An individual debtor can challenge a statutory demand by making an application to court to set it aside, within set time limits. A company can only try to stop the winding up process.
Both of these options are effective because the initial step of issuing a letter of claim or a statutory demand can be effective of itself. Let us take the strain off your business or personal financial pressures. Contact LF Legal for advice on the most cost-effective steps to recover money you are owed on 0203 146 3549 / [email protected]