My invoices haven’t been paid – what can I do?
Sheila Valand – Partner
The primary reason businesses suffer from cash flow issues is because their invoices are not paid on time, the business fails to chase payment and, in some cases, continue rendering further invoices for work done increasing the debt owed to them.
The current COVID-19 crisis has led to many businesses closing. Businesses need to act quickly in collecting debts to stay afloat and on top of their cash flow. All businesses need to have a credit control regime in place to chase invoices as they fall due.
The need for businesses to act swiftly and effectively in collecting debts has never been more important. Here are some methods which businesses can use to collect debts owed by other business:
- Issue Court Proceedings
Before issuing Court proceedings, a business should contact the debtor to request payment of outstanding invoices. If the matter cannot be settled amicably, often the threat of Court proceedings is enough to persuade a debtor to pay.
Should the requests fail, then the next step is issuing a money claim in the County Court, providing the debt is above £50.00. Should the debtor ignore Court Proceedings, you can apply for a County Court Judgment (‘CCJ’), which will be registered on the debtor’s credit file and can affect their ability to obtain credit.
Once you have a CCJ you can use a variety of methods to enforce the debt, the most popular being:
- Third Party Debt Orders – funds can be seized from the debtor’s bank account pending approval from a judge. This is a useful method especially when your debtor falls within a supply chain. You can cut the middle business out and go straight to the top.
- Taking control of goods – where the debtor has goods of a significant value such as machinery, computers or stock that belong to them, you can instruct High Court Bailiffs to seize and sell the assets to settle your debt.
- Charging orders- A charging order is a way of securing the CCJ as a charge over the debtor’s land. When the debtor sells the land, they will have to pay you along with interest, if you don’t want to wait, you can apply for an order for sale of the land.
- Winding up a Company
If you are owed more than £750 for an undisputed debt, you can serve a Statutory Demand which is a legal document formally demanding the debt in question. This procedure requires no court involvement.
If the debtor fails to pay within the 21-day time limit, this can lead to the Court approving an Order to Wind a Company up.
This is a very effective method to recover debts. However, before proceeding down this route it is best practice to ensure that the debtor has sufficient funds/assets for liquidation, otherwise it’s a futile exercise.
Our debt collection team understands how businesses operate and is dedicated to achieving the best possible outcome for you. If you have a debt that you are having problems with, please contact Sheila Valand: firstname.lastname@example.org or Zoe Davis: email@example.com. Alternatively you can learn more about our debt recovery services here.