Debt Recovery (up to £100,000)
We offer a ‘debt recovery’ service for businesses and individuals. The steps involved in a debt recovery claim will depend on the facts of the particular case. Typically, however, our debt recovery service will include the following steps:
- taking your instructions and reviewing documentation
- undertaking appropriate searches
- sending the debtor a letter of claim
- receiving payment and sending it onto you, or if the debt is not paid, drafting and issuing a claim
- if no acknowledgment of service or defence is received, applying to Court to enter judgment in default
- if judgment in default is obtained, writing to the debtor to request payment
- if payment is not received or the debtor defends the claim, providing you with advice on next steps and likely costs
As a general rule, our charges for all types of litigation and contentious work are calculated by reference to the amount of time we spend on the matter. Given the nature of such work, we do not normally work on a fixed fee, “no win-no fee”, or similar costs basis.
We charge for time in six-minute units. The current hourly rate which we apply to litigation and contentious work, including all types of debt recovery, ranges between £200 to £300 plus VAT depending on the level of fee earner involved in the matter. However, please contact us to explore whether the facts of your particular case mean that we are able to offer a reduced fee rate for any tasks which you would like us to carry out.
For preparing a 'letter of claim’, our fees are typically in the region of £200 to £400 plus VAT. The letter of claim sets out the nature of the debt and includes a demand for payment. The letter will need to comply with the “Practice Direction – Pre-Action Conduct and Protocols”, and possibly also the “Pre-Action Protocol on Debt Claims” if the claim is by a business against an individual.
Our fees for drafting and issuing Court proceedings are typically in the region of £750 to £1,000 plus VAT (plus the Court claim issue fee – see below). In more complex cases, it may be appropriate to instruct a barrister to draft the proceedings.
Our costs thereafter will depend very much on the stance taken by the debtor, and whether they defend the claim. Such costs will be calculated by reference to the time we spend on the case. We will do our best, however, to provide you with an estimate of the overall costs going forward once we know what stance the debtor is taking.
In addition to our fees, you may need to pay other fees when bringing or defending a claim, such as Court fees and barrister’s fees. When issuing a claim for money, the Court claim issue fee is based on the amount of the claim. For claims up to £10,000, the Court issue fee is based on a sliding scale of fixed fees. For claims above £10,000*, the issue fee is based on a % of the value of the claim (usually 5%). Please note that interest and compensation may take the debt into a higher banding, with a higher cost. Further details of the current Court fees which apply may be found on the HM Courts & Tribunals Service website.
Barrister’s fees are usually calculated on an hourly basis, and will depend on the level of barrister chosen and the work that is involved. *Note: different charges apply to claims above £200,000 in value.
Note that additional costs will also apply if enforcement action is needed to recover a debt, such as the costs of instructing a bailiff.
Our fees are subject to VAT, which is currently charged at 20%. No VAT is currently payable on Court fees, but VAT is likely to be chargeable on all other disbursements. Please note that the VAT element on our fees and on any disbursements cannot be reclaimed from your debtor if you are VAT registered.
As a general guide, it can take about 8 to 12 weeks from receipt of instructions to entering a request for judgment in default. This can depend however on how complex the case is, and how busy the Courts are. If enforcement action is needed or the claim is defended, the matter will take longer to resolve.
Recovery of costs
For claims with a value up to £10,000 the general rule is that each side bears their own legal costs (although this rule may sometimes be displaced if there is a contractual right to recover costs). This means that even if you win, you cannot normally get your legal costs back. In most other cases, the general rule is that the losing party pays the winning party’s costs. An award of costs is, however, always in the discretion of the Court. It is also rare that a party obtains full recovery. As stated above, the VAT element on your legal costs cannot be recovered from your opponent if you are VAT registered.
Other matters to bear in mind
Litigation is inherently risky and there can never be any guarantee of success. As mentioned, in the event you lose the case, you may be liable for payment of your opponent’s legal costs. The Court can also order a party to pay costs during the course of the proceedings (usually within 14 days) and if you do not pay you may not be allowed to continue bringing or defending the claim. It may be possible for you to obtain “After the Event” insurance to cover these risks, or third-party litigation funding. Please speak to the person dealing with your matter at this firm if you require further information about this.
It is always worth checking at the outset whether you have any legal expenses insurance (sometimes called “Before the Event” insurance) as you may already be able to obtain legal assistance in relation to your matter under that policy. Insurers often have their own panel of preferred solicitor firms. You may not, therefore, be able to obtain reimbursement of our fees without obtaining their approval prior to instructing us. You may also want to check whether you are already entitled to legal assistance through a trade union or other body. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau also offers free legal assistance.
Who will have conduct of my matter?
Litigation and contentious work is dealt with at this firm by Mark Fairweather and/or James Patten. Mr Fairweather is a director of Fairweather Law Ltd and a solicitor. Mr Patten is a senior solicitor at the firm. Full contact details, together with details of their experience, can be found elsewhere on this website.