DEBT RECOVERY. Managing cash flow is the secret to a successful business. Poor cash flow even when

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1 DEBT RECOVERY Managing cash flow is the secret to a successful business. Poor cash flow even when trade is buoyant can cause significant difficulties to a small business and in extreme cases force a closure. A carefully planned and enforced credit control process is a necessity for any business and steps to be considered might include :- vetting a potential customer s credit worthiness before opening an account with them; drawing up written contracts and/or terms and conditions of trading emphasising when payment is due and providing a penalty for late payment. The Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 allows small businesses to claim late payment interest at 8% above Bank of England base rate operating a black list of customers with an unacceptable payment record unless payment is made in advance getting to know and complying with the procedures of your customers invoicing and accounts departments maintaining regular credit checks on existing customers ensuring all dispatch notes and invoices are accurate, are delivered to the right customer and sent to the correct address introducing a stop procedure for supplying customers who are late in payment

2 sending reminders at appropriate stages and following up by phone/fax/ / contact by sales force as necessary If, in spite of such a procedure payment of invoices submitted is not forthcoming Hodge Halsall can assist with pursuing outstanding debts against individuals, businesses and companies. What process is involved? Our objective is to recover your debt as quickly as possible whilst not losing sight of the cost effectiveness of the process for you. Spending further money pursuing a debtor who is already insolvent is pointless. We will discuss with you at the outset what is known about the debtor s own financial position in an effort to maximise recovery. We will tailor the debt recovery process to your particular circumstances but which is likely to involve : Pre-action letter We will submit a letter to your debtor demanding payment within a short period and threatening proceedings if payment is not made. We require from you a copy of your outstanding invoices to attach to the pre-action letter. Telephone demand We may seek to telephone the debtor demanding payment on your behalf and in an effort to find out whether there is a genuine reason for non-payment, whether financial or otherwise, and which we can report back to you. Statutory Demand If your debt exceeds and is not disputed it may be possible to prepare and serve a Statutory Demand either upon an individual or a Company threatening bankruptcy or winding up proceedings. This can be a very effective and cheaper

3 method of recovery than issuing court proceedings although it can only be utilised where there is no dispute about the debt. Court proceedings We can issue a claim form on your behalf at which time interest can be claimed at the court rate of 8% (or any higher rate if you have contract conditions allowing for recovery under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act. A court fee is payable when the claim form is issued dependent upon the amount of the debt. An amount of fixed costs can also be added to the debt at this stage. If no defence is filed to the claim judgment will be entered on your behalf at the first possible opportunity. If a defence is filed, we will discuss the content with you and if it is felt to be unlikely to succeed we may make application for early judgment. If that is not possible payment of another court fee is required after which time the Court will set a timetable to be followed before the matter reaches a hearing. Further Court fees are payable for a hearing. We will advise you throughout the process and attend any hearing with you when the matter is to be determined by the court if a negotiated settlement cannot be achieved beforehand. Small claims court If the amount of your debt is for less than 10,000 and a defence is filed to any claim we issue on your behalf the case will be referred to the small claims court. Only limited costs are recoverable from the debtor in the small claims court even when your claim is successful and the strict rules of evidence do not apply. The system is designed for you to do it yourself although we will assist with any part of the process as you require.

4 How do I enforce a Judgment? If you have issued court proceedings and been successful you will have a judgment against your debtor which can be enforced in a number of ways. We will discuss the methods of enforcement available and advise as to what may be appropriate in your particular circumstances. Methods of enforcement may include :- issuing a Warrant or Writ of Execution for which a fee is payable and following which the bailiff or sheriff is instructed to remove and sell goods belonging to the debtor in settlement of the judgment obtaining a third party debt order by which the court gives authority for a third party who owes money to the debtor to pay your directly. This is particularly effective if the debtor has a bank account of which you are aware which is in credit obtaining a Charging Order on any land or property belonging to the debtor and which can be registered against that land preventing a sale without payment being made to you provided there is sufficient equity in the property to clear any previous charges and your own indebtedness when the property is sold issuing a bankruptcy petition or winding up proceedings if the debt is of sufficient value and provided the debtor is considered to have assets available. This can be an expensive process and may only be worth considering where that expense can be recovered as well as your original judgment debt

5 DEBT RECOVERY PROCEDURES Debtor A Company An Individual Letter before Action Letter before Action Statutory Demand Sue for Debt Statutory Demand Sue for Debt If not responded to If undefended If not responded to If undefended Winding up Petition Judgement Bankruptcy Judgement Enforcement Enforcement

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