We understand the importance of recovering debts quickly and cost effectively, the drain on your time and resources and the impact that non-payment of debts can have on your business.
We have extensive experience of working with different sectors and industries. We are quick to understand the specific nature of your contractual arrangements and the importance of retaining key client relationships, whilst recovering the money they owe you. Our approach can help save you time and money.
We listen and make sure we understand your needs. No two situations are exactly the same and our fees reflect the particular requirements and complexities of each case.
Because no two cases are the same, we need to understand the details of your claim before providing you with bespoke, tailored cost information. Our fees for debt recovery work depend on a wide range of factors including:
• the value of the debt
• the nature and complexity of the contractual arrangements and related documents
• the number and nature of any issues in dispute
• how many people may need to give witness evidence
• whether expert evidence or specialist advice is needed
• whether there is a pending deadline for issuing proceedings at court
• the jurisdiction in which the parties are located
• whether the defendant is legally represented
• whether an agreement is reached prior to taking court action
• the likely length of any court hearing
• where any enforcement action may need to be taken
What does the debt recovery process involve?
Most debt recovery actions start by following a process set out in the Court rules (the Civil Procedure Rules) known as the pre-action protocol for debt claims. Following the protocol means certain steps or stages will need to be followed before proceedings should be formally commenced at Court.
We have sought to summarise the key stages of the process to provide further guidance as to how a claim may progress and the potential costs associated with the various stages.
1- Preliminary case assessment and drafting protocol compliant letter before legal action to the debtor (Potential fees £750 – £2,000 plus VAT)
We will consider the summary of the claim you provide us with, the key documents and other evidence and will need to understand how the debt arose. We can then provide you with an initial assessment of the strength of your case and prepare and send a letter before Court action to the debtor.
Sending a letter before Court action can often lead to full payment being made or repayment proposals being made and agreed promptly, without the need to formally commence proceedings at Court.
2- Response to pre-action letter and further correspondence with the debtor (Potential stage fees £500 – £2,500 plus VAT)
The extent to which further costs may be incurred will depend on the debtor’s response, or lack of it.
We will advise you about the merits of any dispute raised or other response from the debtor, or any settlement proposals which may be made, and advise you on your options as how to best proceed and likely associated costs.
3- Preparing your Claim for Issuing at Court (Potential stage fees £750 – £5,000 plus VAT)
Assuming a settlement cannot be agreed during the pre-action correspondence stage, a Claim Form and Particulars of Claim will need to be drafted. These are the formal documents which set out your case and the facts you rely on to support your claim.
Our fees for preparing the documents to formally commence proceedings at Court will depend on a number of factors, including the value of the claim, the nature, number and complexity of any issues in dispute. In some cases we may recommend that we instruct a specialist barrister to help prepare the documents.
The Court also charges an ‘issue fee’ on a sliding scale based on the value of the claim (for more information see www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money/court-fees)
If the debtor does not respond to the Claim Form we can obtain a Judgment in Default for you, which is a Court order requiring the debtor to pay the debt and any associated costs and interest.
If the debtor files a Defence to the Claim or files a Defence and issues its own claim against you (known as a Counterclaim) we will advise you on your options and how best to proceed. This might include making an application to Court for an early judgment (known as ‘Summary Judgment’) seeking a judgment order from Court in your favour without the need for a full trial on the basis that the debtor has no real prospect of successfully defending the claim and there is no other compelling reason why the case should be disposed of at a trial.
4- Disclosure (Potential stage fees £2,500 – £20,000 plus VAT)
If your claim is defended and applying for early judgment is not appropriate, the Court will deal with a number of procedural matters including setting a timetable to trial. This is known as giving ‘directions’.
As part of the Court process you will usually be required to disclose to your opponent documents that are relevant to the claim.
Dealing with the disclosure stage of any proceedings can be a substantial undertaking and may include, amongst other things, having to gather together and disclose documents relevant to the issues in dispute which may include correspondence, meeting minutes, emails, diary entries and so on. More information about the process can be found in our Guide to Disclosure.
Detailed written witness statements may also need to be prepared as part of presenting your case to the Court at trial. Witness statements are very important documents and will usually exhibit or refer to the key documents in the case. The costs for this stage of proceedings will depend very much on how many witnesses need to be involved and the issues they need to address.
More information about the evidence you may need, including the possibility of needing expert evidence, can be found in our Guide to Evidence.
5- Court Hearing (Potential stage fees £2,000 – £7,000 plus VAT)
The length of a trial or other court hearing will depend on the complexity of the claim, the issues in dispute and the ‘track’ it has been allocated to. Typically, debt recovery hearings should not take more than a day in Court, but in complex cases it can be longer. In addition to our fees other costs can include barrister’s fees which will differ according to the level of expertise and seniority of the Barrister and the length of the hearing.
6- Enforcement of Judgment (Potential stage fees £500 – £3,000 plus VAT)
Assuming you have obtained a court order in your favour and the debtor does not pay, you may need to take steps to enforce your judgment order. Further information about how to enforce your judgment order can be found at our Guide to Enforcement.
How we calculate our charges
Our fees are charged based primarily on an agreed hourly rate structure depending on the experience of the lawyer working on your case, the issues in dispute and the complexity of the issues we need to address. Our hourly rate ranges (exclusive of VAT and disbursements) depending on experience and our lawyer’s particular specialisms are between £125 and £460.
On some straightforward debt collection matters we may offer a fixed fee option for our initial assessment and providing a letter before action – Stage 1. In those cases we will assess your circumstances and the work necessary for your claim and provide you with a fixed fee which would typically be within the range of £750 – £2,000 (plus VAT). Where we do this we will set out what work we will do for that fee.
What other costs might there be?
In addition to our fees there may also be additional costs which are payable to third parties who we may recommend are instructed to help us to prepare and support your case. We call these additional costs disbursements. We may pay some of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a fast and smooth process and add the costs to your bill in the normal way. We will inform you of any significant disbursements before they are incurred. Typically in a debt recovery claim disbursements may include:
• Court fees: the Court charges an ‘issue fee’ on a sliding scale based on the value of the claim (for more information see https://www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money/court-fees)
• Enquiry Agent fees: enquiry agents can help locate the debtor, help establish what assets they may own and if needed, personally serve any documents on them. Typically the fees for some of this work range between £150-£750 but can be higher in complex cases for example where individuals have moved to different jurisdictions or have taken steps to hide their whereabouts or assets.
• Barristers’ fees: hourly rates for Barristers typically range between £200 and £750 (plus VAT) but depending on the seniority and experience of the Barrister can be higher. A Barrister’s ‘brief fee’ for representing you at a trial or other court hearing will vary depending a number of factors.
• Land Registry Fees: in some circumstances we will need to undertake property searches at the Land Registry. A common search required is to obtain a copy of the title register to confirm who owns a property. This usually costs £3.00 (inclusive of VAT).
• Expert reports or expert witnesses: the extent of any fees will depend on the type of expert needed for your case, whether a report for the Court is required and whether they need to attend any hearing to give evidence in person.
All of the costs set out above will vary depending on the variables in your case. As part of your claim we will also seek to recover your costs from the debtor as the usual rule so that “loser” in legal proceedings will pay some or all of the “winner’s” costs. However this is not always the case and the Court has wide powers to determine who should pay the costs
How long will your claim take?
The time it takes from you initially contacting us to reaching a resolution of your matter depends largely on the stage at which your case is resolved and the complexity of the issues to be addressed. When settlements are reached during Stage 1, which can often be the case, repayment of your debt can occur within as little as a few days or a week or two. However, in complex claims a debtor has up to 3 months to provide an initial response, scheduling a court hearing date can also take a number of months and therefore if your claim proceeds to a full court hearing it could take over 12 months to resolve. If the debtor does not promptly make payment following any judgment then further enforcement action may be required and the matter will therefore take longer to resolve.
These are just guidelines to provide you with an indication of the likely time to recover your debt. When we have discussed your specific circumstances we will be able to advise you more clearly on what to expect. Similarly, if complexities arise throughout the course of your claim we will advise you about any impact this might have.
How we can help in your individual matter
We will always give you clear information on costs at the outset on a confidential basis, explaining what work we will undertake as part of that estimate, taking account of your circumstances We keep costs under review and will discuss with you any change in circumstances that may affect your costs.
You can find details of our experienced team of lawyers on our website. To ask a question, or request a fee quote on a confidential no obligation basis, please contact us at [email protected] or call 020 7551 7777 and ask to speak with one of our dispute resolution team.