How to Recover a Debt is a post for creditors. If you are owed money you need to be honest with yourself. How good a client or customer is it that owes you the money? Does their relationship with you justify them treating you like a bank?
This guide refers to the following matters:
If someone owes you money and you are reading this post it is likely that your patience has run out. It is likely that you have been ignored, given excuses for non-payment that you are not satisfied with or even that you have been the victim of a fraud. It is therefore time to push the squid ink to one side and focus on recovery of the debt.
The first thing you need to consider is how you want to tackle the recovery process. Do you want to hire professionals or do you want to do it yourself? Is your time worth it?
There are certain things you can do yourself with ease, which are not time consuming and which can arm you with information.
If the debt is disputed on proper grounds, then that is outside the scope of this post. You will need to address the dispute before you can look to recover the money that you say is due.
It is important that you rid your mind of the perception that is commonly held publicly that if you are in difficulty collecting a debt that the law is not on your side and that if there is an insolvency you will not get any of your money back.
This perception is one the major reasons that people in effect give up too early when they are looking to collect a debt. This is a self-defeating position that is one to treat with caution even if an insolvency arises.
How To Recover A Debt by Issuing Legal Proceedings
The first thing you need to consider about how to recover a debt is that if you expect a simple letter informing someone that you intend to bring legal proceedings, even if written on an impressive letterhead by a regulated firm, to produce a recovery then perhaps think again. You ought to be aware that an expectation that anyone’s letterhead, is or indeed should be intimidating could lead to unrealistic expectations. It should not be in any event; you should recover a debt due to you on merit. The same goes for all the carefully articulated wording that might look impressive. It means absolutely nothing if someone will not get out their cheque book and pay you.
The simple truth of the matter is that many people know full well that threatening legal proceedings is not the same as issuing legal proceedings. If you are not prepaed to follow through then your options are potentially limited.
Depending on the sums involved there are options for you to do this yourself. If the sums are for less than £10,000 then you can issue a Money Claim online. Even if there bigger sums involved you can still undertake the process yourself but you will need to consider if you are able to do that. There are lots of rules that need to be complied with known as the Civil Procedure Rules.
However, before you embark upon litigation consider if you have sufficient information about the party that owes you the money and if they are likely to be worth powder and shot. People might plead poverty but that does not mean it is necessarily the case. Certainly it would be helpful to establish if you are dealing with a genuine case of poverty because legal proceeding providing you with an order of the court that amounts to a paper judgment that you cannot use to recover, is of course worthless. It is not a great deal more than an arguably expensive piece of paper.
How To Recover a Debt With a Statutory Demand
The second thing you need to consider about how to recover a debt is a Statutory Demand. A Statutory Demand is a formal demand for payment and acts as a warning that the company can be wound up if matters are not resolved within 21 days. It should be deployed when the debt is not disputed.
A Statutory Demand for payment can make the recovery process easier if further enforcement action is required. It is however not necessarily essential as explained in the next section on winding up petitions.
An unsatisfied Statutory Demand can lead to a winding up petition being served. This is a serious position because a company cannot continue to trade normally through its Directors if the winding up petition leads to a winding up order and being placed into Compulsory Liquidation.
If however the debt is disputed, then you will need to obtain judgment from the Court first to dispose of the dispute.
How To Recover a Debt With a Winding Up Petition
The third thing you need to consider about how to recover a debt is a Winding Up Petition. A winding up petition is a legal process taken by creditors against a company that owes them a debt. It can also be brought by the company itself through its Directors.
If the company owes £750 or more, the creditor can petition the court for the company to be wound up and placed into compulsory liquidation. The petition will refer to a hearing date and then must be served on the company at its registered office. If the matter is to proceed to a hearing of the petiton at court, it will need to be advertised in London Gazette.
If a winding up order is made, the creditor can seek to appoint an insolvency practitioner as liquidator.
This is often considered a last resort by creditors. It is not intended as a debt collection process but a matter in the public interest if the company cannot pay its debts when then fall due ie. it is insolvent. The consequential compulsory liquidation that may arise is deemed to be an insolvency class action when creditors are pooled together and share in the recoveries, assuming there are sufficient funds available after the costs of liquidation have been discharged.
Winding Up Petitions are advertised in The Gazette as public notices. They are a serious matter. A company cannot go about its business normally if a winding up petition has been issued and advertised in particular. It can lead to the company’s bank accounts being frozen.
Crucially once a winding up petition has been issued any disposition of the company’s property is void without validation by the court by virtue of Section 127 of the Insolvency Act 1986. This presents the company with a practical difficulty in continuing to trade, without a Validation Order authorising certain of the company’s transactions to take place. The Insolvency Proceedings Practice Direction has within it a strict procedure which can be deployed to apply to court for a Validation Order so that trading might be able to continue in some way.
Can I Use a No Win No Fee Agreement?
There are however opportunities to hire organisations to help you recover debts on a no win no fee basis when going down the route of issuing legal proceedings.
The Need for Quality Information
The fourth thing you ought to consider in terms of how to recover a debt is how you avoid wasting time on blind alleys and focus on how you might recover the debt efficiently, effectively and expeditiously.
You need quality information so that you know who and what you are dealing with to assess the problem and make an informed decision as to the approach going forward.
The first thing to do is to find out just how well you know the party that owes you the money in the first place. Even if you have known them for a long time, then unless they are your best friend with whom you have shared your life, even then you might be in for some surprises. You might find that all that you thought you knew about someone was not correct and literally from day one.
It is therefore time for you to do your research and find out about this person or party properly. The more accurate information that you have at your disposal, the more you will be in a position to challenge and hopefully recover. If you find yourself dealing with a party who has been particularly dishonest and who has deceived you, then you might be in a position demonstrate fraud and other misconduct.
The purpose behind that is not to focus on some potential criminal proceedings; it is so that you can show the extent of some conceivable deception. Criminal proceedings might cause someone to have a criminal record but they are conceivably less likely to help you directly. They are more designed to help society as a whole in the public interest, than you and your debt.
Many people who are intent up on avoiding payment of debts can be accustomed to in effect getting away with it. They might be used to a number of other parties giving up the puruit of repayment. The important thing is not to give up because that exacerbates the problem, not just for you but for others and society potentially as well.
How to Assemble Quality Information
The fifth thing to consider about how to recover a debt is about assembling quality information. How do you assemble quality information? What is quality information?
Quality informatoin is objectively reliable information that can trusted. In other words it is not information based on your ‘understanding’ of matters even when accumulated over many years. Not only could your understanding, even over many years, be an accumulation of inaccurate information but it could be that your memory in any event lets you down and persuades you that certain facts are correct when in fact they are not.
To assemble qualify information you need to go back to the drawing board and start from scratch to begin with. You should assemble information about the party who owes you money from public sources of information.
To begin with you want to know more about the party that owes you money and whether or not it is likely that they will be in a position to repay you.
Portable wealth information is not the best form of information because a) it is not easily obtainable and b) the portability of such assets means they can be disposed of easily. Ideally you are after bricks and motar i.e. a house that someone owns that you can attach a debt to. Even better if you are concerned that someone might take the drastic action to escape you by moving far overseas for example only, then if you discover they are properly settled in this country, perhaps lacking inventives to uproot their life, then conceivably all the better.
Where can I Obtain Information?
The sixth thing to consider about how to a debt is where quality information can be obtained from. A good source of such information is Companies House. You can obtain information on people’s companies, historic addresses, indications of their date of birth and other individuals with whom they have or are involved through their companies.
Whilst Companies House may only currently provide service addresses, many people still use their domestic addresses as their service address. Further, old companies filing histories may reveal such relevant addresses looking at historic Annual Returns.
If you discover relevant addresses then you can use Land Registry to search them for a small fee to obtain property ownership information.
If you discover that the person you are interested in has a house that they own, you will be able to see if it has a mortgage on it and if they own it with someone else. You may even discover that other people are also hot in pursuit to recover their debts if they have already registered charges, such as charging orders over the property or what are known as unilateral notices to some claim over the property concerned.
If you are still struggling, then you can look to hire a tracing agent on a ‘no trace no fee basis’. An example of a company offering such a service would appear to be Tremark Associates, who appear to offer a no trace no fee type service.
Once you know of the address in someone’s name you can often go to Google to take a look at it from the outside through Google Maps. Just plug in the postcode and you might in many instances be as good as right outside.
You can of course also look into the value of the property by going to sites such as Zoopla. You may even be able to see inside the property to get a look at its condition if it has been available for sale.
The internet and social media provide further avenues for obtaining publicly recorded information about individuals. Look on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn Google and even TikTok to see what someone might have shared with the world at large to build a picture.
The internet has a wealth of other information. If you are aware of a website you may be able to find out who it is registerd to through Whois searching. This could give you clues about a valuable income stream that is generated by the party concerned.
How to Use the Information
The seventh thing to consider about how to recover a debt is using the qualify information that you have assembled to see if you can obtain the recovery you seek.
If a person has a valuable asset such as a house, then you may be able to obtain a judgment and place a charging order over the property to secure your debt. Subsequently you may be able to recover the debt by forcing the sale of the property.
The important point here is that you now have done your resarch on the party or parties that owe you the money. Hopefully by now you will have found out some useful information and you will not have needed to necessarily spend a penny with agents to do this work for you.
You can now armed with this information, instruct relevant professionals properly.
How do I Issue an Insolvency Claim
The final thing to consider about how to recover a debt is if there is an insolvency situation that has arisen such as a Liquidation, Administration, Company Voluntary Arrangement, Individual Voluntary Arrangement or Bankruptcy then you can take advice from our CEO Elliot Green who is a Licensed Insolvency Practitioner and Chartered Accountant. We will look at your situation free of charge to begin with to see if we can assist you and help you with your claim.
If there is no insolvency situation then you can look to pursue the unpaid debt and if necessary issue legal proceedings and serve them at the correct address, hopefully in the knowledge that you have the right person and that they are worth powder and shot.
Above there was reference to the self defeating tendency arising from the belief or sometimes even mistaken suggestion from others, that a debt might not be recoverable, leads many people to give up early in the debt recovery process. Instead of continuing in pursuit the delay and slow pace of recovery can disincentivise people from continuing in the process. That is precisely what some debtors rely upon to defeat the legitimate pursuit of the debt.
However, a person who is persistent and tenacious, has every chance that absent insolvency (in which case they may need to deploy the services of an Insolvency Practitioner with a suitable skillset such as our CEO Elliot Green. For a Free Initial Consultation Contact Us now.
“How to Recover a Debt” post is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. You should seek independent professional advice on your situation. No liability is accepted for any reliance placed upon this post.