Services
People
News and Events
Other
Blogs

Debt Recovery

We offer a Fixed Fee Debt Recovery Service for use by Claimants or Defendants in connection with money claims (other than undisputed business debts).

This service is available in relation to money claims which fall within the small claims track limit. The small claims track limit is £10,000 - or £1,000 for housing disrepair claims.

Download our information sheet here.

Disputes are an unwelcome part of life. Distracting, at best; Draining, at worst.

While high-value, complex and costly disputes are well-known for the challenges they present, there can be real issues at the other end of the scale too. Small claims – defined as money claims worth less than £10,000 – can present their own problems for individuals and businesses.  Here’s our guide to using small claims to your advantage.

UNDERSTAND THE SMALL CLAIMS TRACK

If you are owed money then you may have to go through a process of asking for it nicely, demanding it, and then getting the court to help you recover it.

There are different mechanisms for bringing civil claims. If you are owed less than £10,000 and are just asking to be paid the money, and are not looking for some other remedy, then the Small Claims Track is for you.

There are some things you need to know about small claims. The first is that you probably don’t need our help – at least not as much help as you would if you were issuing a different sort of claim. Part of the reason is that small claims tend to be pretty straightforward. They are generally your word against your opponent’s, backed up by a file of papers. There aren’t usually legal arguments, and the system is designed for people to represent themselves in court and to quickly recover what they are legally owed.

That leads on to the other important thing about small claims: you can not recover your costs from your opponent. You may have heard of losing parties having to pay thousands of pounds to cover the winner’s legal costs. That doesn’t happen in small claims. Here each party bears their own costs, apart from court fees and some expenses which you may get back if you win. That’s why, more often than not, lawyers aren’t asked for much advice and representation along the way. Where we come into it – and where we can really make a difference – is in the initial stages; advising on the legal basis of a claim, giving guidance on drafting claims and defences, and helping with strategy and process.

KNOW WHO YOU ARE

The person bringing the claim is the “claimant”. The other party is the “defendant”. Sometimes there can be more than one defendant, and it is really important to think very carefully about this before issuing a claim.

Make sure you are suing the right person and that you include everyone you should. Companies often have trading names which are different to their official legal names (and it is the legal name you’ll need to set out in the paperwork). So you will need to search Companies House to get these details right on your claim form.

Also, although you may think that your debt is owed by an individual, think about whether that person has been acting in their capacity as a director of a company. If they have been, then perhaps it is the company, rather than the individual, that is the proper defendant.

All names and contact details given in your claim form need to be correct. Once you send your claim form to the court, it will then be issued to the person at the address you have specified – so it is critical that the information you give is right. The court will also need your name and address to be correct so that it can be sure that you are the right claimant, and so that you can receive important correspondence.

WORK OUT EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE OWED

You will need to state on your claim form the specific amount of money you say the defendant owes you, and why. Sometimes this will be obvious. Other times, you will need to do some calculations to work out your actual losses. You will also need to take account of rules on what can and can’t be recovered. For example, where you have provided services to another company and your invoice hasn’t been paid, any VAT included in that invoice should be claimed from the defendant as well. However, if you had been promised the opportunity to provide services but had not actually done so, your claim would be for the loss of profits alone (no VAT).

WHEN TO START A CLAIM

Not too soon and not too late. Helpful? In all seriousness, judging when to issue a claim can be tricky. Because court proceedings should always be the last resort, you will need to make sure that you have tried as hard as you can to get your opponent to pay up before issuing a claim. That means talking to them, writing to them, and making sure they know exactly what you say they owe.

The Court will always encourage parties to set out their claim in writing and give the other a proper opportunity to respond before starting legal action.

Share information and disclose any relevant documents before issuing your claim – it could help bring matters to a close. Also explore Alternative Dispute Resolution methods like mediation which involve impartial third parties working with you to resolve the dispute.

Take a look at the ‘Practice Direction on Pre-Action Conduct’ on www.justice.gov.uk before you start Court proceedings – you will need to comply with it.

Remember too, that strict time limits apply to issuing claims and so you will need to carefully check the deadline for yours.

WHERE TO ISSUE YOUR CLAIM

You will start your claim by filling in an N1 Claim Form. You should be able to pick one up from your local county court or download it via the Ministry of Justice website: hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk You will also find a service called Money Claims Online that allows you to issue a claim via its website: www.moneyclaim.gov.uk

A fee will be payable when you issue the claim, and further fees kick in as the claim progresses. The Court fee for starting claims through the Money Claim Online service is lower than the paper-based version.

GET YOUR PARTICULARS RIGHT

The claim form will ask you to summarise what you are owed and why.  This is known as the Particulars of Claim. Remember that the court has no background information about you, your business or circumstances and so will rely entirely on the information you give here.

Setting out your claim logically and coherently will improve your chances of success. For example, if you believe that there was a contract for you to provide services to the defendant, make sure to specify:

  • how that contract was formed
  • which terms of the contract you are relying on
  • how you believe you have fulfilled your obligations under the contract
  • how the defendant has failed to fulfil their obligations.

It is not enough just to say that you have an unpaid invoice. You need to be clear about why you believe that the defendant should pay that invoice.

GET YOUR WRITING RIGHT

Every communication you have with the court – from your claim form, to your letters, to the way you present your case – is a reflection on you and your claim. The best types of claims are those which are expressed clearly, in a business-like and professional style.

The dispute may be personal, and you are likely to be frustrated, but the court is looking at the legal merits of your claim and not at what a dreadful person you say the defendant is. It really pays to understand the legal basis of your claim, what you need to prove and to stick to the point. Judges have a fair degree of patience and understanding but the more focused you remain on what really matters, the easier the ride will be.

GET TO GRIPS WITH THE PROCESS

Once the court has sent the defendant your claim form, you will need to wait for a response. There are four ways this could go. The first is that you hear nothing within the 14 day timescale; if that happens you can apply to the court for a judgment against the defendant which means they will be forced to pay up. The second possibility is that the defendant files an “Acknowledgement of Service” within 14 days and they then have another 14 days in which to file a defence. The third possibility is that they confirm that they will accept all or some of your claim. The final possible course of action is that they file a defence at court. That is a brief explanation of why they dispute your claim.

If the defendant files a defence, it is a good idea to consult a solicitor to advise on the process and ways of winning your claim. The court will ask you to do certain things – like file witness statements - at certain times before the final hearing, and it is important to meet these deadlines. You will have some say in these steps by completing a “Directions Questionnaire”.

Depending on how the defendant has responded to your claim form, the court may grant your claim in full or set a date for a hearing, at which you and the defendant may be asked to give evidence and put your case forward.

GET YOUR EXPENCES READY

If you win your claim, the judge will make an official order that the defendant must pay you a certain amount of money within a certain time period, often one month. This amount can include expenses such as your court fees, reasonable travelling expenses, the cost of staying overnight if relevant, and up to £90 for loss of earnings if you had to take time off to attend court.

If you lose your claim, you may be ordered to pay some or all of the defendant’s expenses.

DECIDE HOW FAR TO PUSH IT

Winning your claim doesn’t necessarily mean you will see your money. The defendant might refuse, or be unable, to pay. If that happens then you will need to decide whether to pursue this further or to write off the debt.

That decision usually hinges on cost. Forcing someone to hand over money can be difficult and expensive, but you might feel it is worth it if you are owed a significant amount of money or you are happy to pay out of principle. But if the defendant hasn’t actually got the money to pay you, it may be that there’s little point taking things any further.

This is the sort of issue we will be able to help with; our litigation and insolvency lawyers are used to advising on situations in which debtors are reluctant or unable to pay. Talk to us about our debt recovery service.

Contact our experts for further advice

View profile for Elizabeth EastleyElizabeth Eastley, View profile for Elizabeth WaghornElizabeth Waghorn

Latest Posts

Accreditation success!

Vicki Rawlins
  • Posted
  • Author

I feel sympathy for those who have recently received, or are still awaiting, exam results today. I recently re-submitted my application for Resolution Accredited Specialist status and am pleased to announce that I was successful. Despite having over 14...

Bullying in the workplace

Debbie Sansome
  • Posted
  • Author

A conversation that I had with someone last week was centered on him gauging my opinion on something that had occurred between two work colleagues in his business, which had resulted in an employee being dismissed for gross misconduct. Basically, employee...

Good Looking v Just being Good

Debbie Sansome
  • Posted
  • Author

A London bar has caused outrage when placing a job advert stating that it was necessary for female applicants to be 'physically attractive for the role'. Aside from this advert having all employment law solicitors gasping in horror, not to even...

Anti-social social media

Debbie Sansome
  • Posted
  • Author

Again, we face the increasing reality of shaming and ridiculing people through social media. There has been a recent case in Georgia wherein, a man was shamed on a local Facebook group when a photograph of him sleeping in a McDonalds was shared with the...

New pension guidance

Vicki Rawlins
  • Posted
  • Author

Pensions are not necessarily a clients’ priority when they seek advice on financial remedies along a divorce or dissolution. Indeed, when asked about their assets, they are often not mentioned until specifically raised. However when it comes to...

Campaign success for No-Fault Divorce

Vicki Rawlins
  • Posted
  • Author

The Family Team at Eric Robinson Solicitors supported the introduction of No Fault Divorce. We felt it vitally important for the law to allow separating couples to part as amicably as possible, without having to blame each other.

Initial Fixed Fee family interview

  • Posted

Separating from your spouse or partner and need to know where you stand with the house, children, finances? The list is endless….   Our Initial Fixed Fee interview is a great opportunity for you to get the advice that you need about any...

Mind the Gap

Debbie Sansome
  • Posted
  • Author

Hot on the heels of Gender Pay Gap reporting, it is now expected that we will see Ethnicity Gap reporting introduced. However, are businesses prepared for this, will they have the data collection available to report, or will the reporting be totally...

A Growing Trend for Cohabiting Families

Jag Kainth
  • Posted
  • Author

As expected, the most common type of family is married or civil partner couple families and the second largest is the cohabiting (unmarried) family; there are more than 3.3 million cohabiting families in the UK.   Unfortunately unlike married...

Why should we train?

Debbie Sansome
  • Posted
  • Author

Eric Robinson Solicitors were nominated by a panel of legal industry experts for its investment in employee career development and progression.  We were nominated for Best Law Firm at the inaugural National Paralegal Awards 2019. We were up against...

Nuptial Agreements - The death of romance or modern day armour?

Vicki Rawlins
  • Posted
  • Author

That is the question... Or at least it should be for anyone about to, or already having walked down the aisle with the love of their life. It is just a shame that not everyone gives it any thought at all. I appreciate that it is not the most romantic of...

'No Fault Divorce' - Time for a change in the Law

Catherine Day
  • Posted
  • Author

Following the recent news about proposed divorce reform, the Family team at Eric Robinson Solicitors are delighted to  hear further details about the reforms today - the biggest change in divorce law in 50 years! According to David Gauke, Justice...

Effective Co-Parenting after a Separation is Key

  • Posted

This isn’t always easy. But whilst the nature of the parents’ relationship has changed, they should always seek to maintain a united front for the benefit of the child.  It is so important that parents communicate with each other at all...

Is gossip really just 'a bit of fun'?

Debbie Sansome
  • Posted
  • Author

Silence speaks a thousand words – is this true or not? Sometimes when we are met with a blanket silence, or merely a small nod of the head, without words, this can have more of a dramatic and unspoken meaning to us. However, the saying is that '...

Deal or no deal

Debbie Sansome
  • Posted
  • Author

The word on everyone’s lips currently and seems to have been since the Referendum in June 2016, is 'are we going to be able to agree a Brexit deal or not'. For something, which has taken nearly 3 years to agree, we now only have until 29 March...

Tenant Fees Bill

Elizabeth Eastley
  • Posted
  • Author

On 12 February 2019, it was announced that the Tenant Fees Act 2019 is due to come into force on 1 June 2019. The Act restricts the ability of landlords and letting agents to charge certain fees to tenants and prospective tenants.  It applies to most...

Are we too blinded by Blind Recruitment?

Debbie Sansome
  • Posted
  • Author

Employers are now seeing a trend in blind recruitment whereby applicants applying for vacancies will redact their CVs to remove any details of protected characteristics, such as age, sex and race.  Essentially, blind-folding their CV. The reason for...

One step closer to No Fault Divorce

Catherine Day
  • Posted
  • Author

The Family team at Eric Robinson Solicitors are delighted to learn that the government will be introducing legislation to make "no fault" divorce an option for separating couples. Following the well documented case of Owens v Owens in which it...

Brexit Update

  • Posted

Following the vote that took place on the evening of Tuesday 15 January 2019, the UK Government has rejected the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement that had been put forward by Theresa May following the many months of discussions with the European Union. Current...

Check a passport for travel to Europe

  • Posted

ARE YOU TRAVELLING TO EUROPE IN 2019? In the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal, the Government will announce new rules that will apply. Before you travel, please feel free to use the passport checking tool , to ensure that you have enough...

It's Good Divorce Week - but what exactly is a "good divorce?"

  • Posted

Life isn’t a fairy-tale.  Despite good intentions and best efforts, sometimes people find that they are no longer compatible and wish to separate.  Indeed, over 100,000 marriages end in divorce in the UK every year. Divorce is undeniably...

Do you recognise Harassment?

Debbie Sansome
  • Posted
  • Author

With the #MeToo movement being brought back into the spotlight of late, it is even more important for employers to demonstrate their commitment to preventing unlawful harassment in the workplace. The #MeToo movement has inspired thousands of men and...

Are you facing a breakdown in your relationship?

Jag Kainth
  • Posted
  • Author

If you are, then this can be one of the most stressful, challenging and emotional experiences you will go through. The family team at Eric Robinson solicitors can help you through this tough time and advise you on the various issues you may to have to face,...

Don't put off dealing with your finances

Emma Cole
  • Posted
  • Author

Dealing with finances in the event of a separation can be daunting - property, savings, investments, pensions, businesses, children, income, outgoings, inheritance… the list can seem endless, however, it must not be ignored. We at Eric Robinson can...

Christmas arrangements for the children

Catherine Day
  • Posted
  • Author

Now that Halloween is over, the next big event is Christmas. In addition to present buying and preparation for the day itself, parents who have separated also have to agree how the children will spend the festive period. At Christmas, emotions can often be...

EU Nationals Right to Work in the UK

  • Posted

On Tuesday 30 October 2018, the current Minister of State for Immigration, The Rt Hon Caroline Nokes MP, gave a statement to other MPs in relation to EU nationals working in the UK, and their Employers being expected to check whether the EU nationals have...

Employee Wellbeing - are these just buzz words?

Debbie Sansome
  • Posted
  • Author

Something which is at the top of Eric Robinson’s agenda currently is our newly implemented Employee Wellbeing Programme, 'My Lifestyle'. This kind of Programme is something, which I have been considering for a while and it is great I have been...

AI or not AI - that is the question?

Debbie Sansome
  • Posted
  • Author

In the spotlight this month is discussions on AI (Artificial Intelligence) and whether we are hiding from this reality. There is always an air of scepticism and suspicion on whether AI could steal our jobs, could become 'rogue' and not understand...

Headlines relating to divorce can be misleading

Catherine Day
  • Posted
  • Author

Take for example, the recent news about Ant McPartlin. Today it has been reported that he has been granted a divorce. However, when you actually read the article, it turns out that it is the Decree Nisi,  the first order in the Divorce Process,...

Planned Changes to Immigration Health Surcharge

  • Posted

At present, the Immigration Health Surcharge is paid for by migrants coming to, and also already in the UK for periods longer than 6 months to have access to NHS services in the same way as UK Citizens have access to NHS services. Current Immigration Health...

Resolving disputes, in a non-confrontational way

  • Posted

Why all of the family lawyers at Eric Robinson Solicitors are members of the national organisation, Resolution… Resolution is an organisation that commits family lawyers to resolving disputes in a non-confrontational way. There is often a lot of...

Why it really is good to talk in the workplace?

Debbie Sansome
  • Posted
  • Author

I am going to talk about a subject, which some people find very taboo, or feel that it should not be openly discussed. However, that is just plain wrong.  Two little words but have such a big meaning; Mental Health . 1 in 4 people, across the world,...

Cost v Service

Debbie Sansome
  • Posted
  • Author

Can we put a cost on Customer Service? Upon looking at service feedback from clients, can we put a cost on customer service and would be swap excellent client service v low cost? Ask me when I was 20 and the answer would be cost.  Ask me now...

Common Law Marriage is a MYTH

Vicki Rawlins
  • Posted
  • Author

Despite the 18 th August being set to be the most popular day of the year for couples to marry, the overall amount of couples choosing to marry is decreasing. Official statistics from the Office of National Statistics show that one in eight people in...

Do we all show some unconscious bias?

Debbie Sansome
  • Posted
  • Author

I have been doing some research on unconscious bias and it really did make me sit and think about how we perceive, or view other people to be. Essentially, unconscious bias is about people making quick judgement, or stereotyping, without realising we are...

Owens v Owens - Still a Victory for 'No Fault Divorce'?

Vicki Rawlins
  • Posted
  • Author

Never in my 15 years career as a family lawyer, have I seen a ruling by the Supreme Court received with such reservation, misgiving and disappointment by the legal profession. When the high profile appeal made by Tini Owens to be granted divorce from her...

Wedding Bells - celebration or warning?

Vicki Rawlins
  • Posted
  • Author

We have just passed the most popular day in the UK to get married – 18 th August. This means that many happy couples are now enjoying their honeymoon and thinking about spending the rest of their lives with each other. Whilst I wish every such couple...

Is it really equality for all?

Debbie Sansome
  • Posted
  • Author

I could not write this month without recognising what has been filing newspaper columns, the news, social media and even Big Brother! – Equality and the Gender Pay Gap. Feminism or equality sometimes gets the wrong press, as the word can...

BREXIT

  • Posted

The Home Office have released a Statement of Intent in relation to Brexit and the future of EU nationals in the UK.  This system will bring in a new “Settled Status” category, and will replace the current Permanent Residence and EEA Family...

We're all going on a summer holiday...

Catherine Day
  • Posted
  • Author

...or are we? It’s that time of year – the sun’s making guest appearances, the BBQs are out, and thoughts naturally turn to our summer holidays. It should be a time to relax and unwind. However the build up can be stressful...

NHS Visa Changes

  • Posted

The removal of the Tier 2 cap for Doctors and Nurses employed by the NHS should, in effect, help all employers that have been struggling with the monthly Tier 2 limits over the past 6 months or so.  The annual limit of 20,700 restricted certificates of...

Change of Home Secretary

  • Posted

Over the last few weeks, there have been some significant changes released by UK Visas & Immigration in conjunction with the Home Office, following on from the appointment of Sajid Javid, who recently replaced Amber Rudd as Home Secretary.  The...

Can you hear employee voice, or are you even listening?

Debbie Sansome
  • Posted
  • Author

You can never underestimate just how important employee voice is; not just for the reputation of your business, but also for retaining engaged and motivated employees. The reason why I think employee voice is sometimes underestimated is that, genuinely it...

Forced Marriages

  • Posted

Forced Marriage is a criminal offence but it remains a widespread issue within the UK.  In 2017, the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) gave advice and support in relation to 1,196 possible forced marriages. Of these cases, 29.7% involved victims below the age of 18 and 29.5% concerned victims aged between 18 and 25. 

Croatian Worker Restrictions Lifted from 30th June 2018

  • Posted

The current work authorisation requirements for Croatian workers in the UK will be lifted on 30th June 2018. Background When Croatia joined the EU in 2013, the UK and other member states were able to place restrictions on labour market access for Croatian...

UNITED KINGDOM: Universal Jobmatch to be replaced by 'Find a Job'

  • Posted

Information released on 25 April 2018. It has been officially announced that Universal Jobmatch – the government website used by UK recruiters and Tier 2 licensed sponsors to advertise jobs – is being replaced by ‘Find a Job’...

Predictions or a complete change of working ...?

Debbie Sansome
  • Posted
  • Author

It seems that a big thing which is currently trending is predictions on what is going to change in the workplace within the next 12 months.  In the USA, it is predicted that unemployment will continue to decline from 4.3% to 4.2%, with an overall...

The Split - Hit or Miss?

Vicki Rawlins
  • Posted
  • Author

Last night saw the BBC debut their new drama about a family of female family lawyers in London. The first episode introduced us to the different characters and showed them both at work and at play. I watched the programme firstly as a fan of the hugely...

Do you really protect your own data?

Debbie Sansome
  • Posted
  • Author

This month is the focus on the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), which come into force on 25 May 2018.  This is a huge change of legislation on how people handle data. Albeit, such a serious subject of which we will all have to...

What rights do I have as a grandparent?

Catherine Day
  • Posted
  • Author

This question is often asked and the situation is not as straightforward as you may think.  For example, grandparents do not have an automatic right to see their grandchildren. Understandably, however, the Courts recognise that grandparents can play an...