It is no exaggeration to say that the Coronavirus outbreak has torpedoed the finances of thousands of successful and healthy businesses across the UK. Consumers have tightened their belts, clients have cancelled orders and debtors are slower or unable to pay. The impact is widespread and cuts deep. While a good number of companies have taken advantage of the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
(CBILS) and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme
, other businesses may be reluctant to borrow their way out of their present cash flow crunch and will want to take measures to recover what they are owed. Increasingly, businesses are trying to understand their debt recovery options and whether seeking court intervention is even possible during the current lockdown period.
Proactive, open and honest communication with your clients and suppliers is key
One of the biggest drivers of frustration of business owners is that they simply do not know when to expect payment and cannot plan accordingly. If they know they will receive an agreed (or even reduced) amount on an agreed date, this can be very helpful. If your debtors are not paying on time and they are unable to pay you in full, ask them for a written proposal as to how they can repay the debt. You should ask that they commit to a number of monthly payments to repay the whole debt. Pursuing a debtor immediately through the pre-action letter before claim
or letter of claim process at the current time without trying hard to find a compromise is not recommended.If you have outstanding invoices or other debt owed to your business there are a number of ways you can go about recovering it. At LawBite our dispute experts have put together a number of options to help you. >> Find out more here.
What can I do if I cannot agree a solution with my debtor?
It is still possible to bring claims before the courts where all efforts to reach an agreement have not proved successful. At present, ‘enforcement work that does not involve bailiffs, such as third-party debt’ is classed as priority 1
(work which must be done) for the civil courts. In addition, the County Court Money Claims Centre (CCMCC) and the County Court Bulk Centre (CCBC) are currently operating, but with reduced capacity and changes in rules and procedures
. This includes the acceptance of digital signatures in line with section 5.3 of the civil procedure rules. The pre-action protocol requires that you send a letter before action (LBA) or letter of claim by post, but if this is not possible, you may need to consider using email (ensure you have the correct, current email address for your debtor).
More about Coronavirus
The COVID-19 outbreak and the resultant lockdown has hit businesses of all types extremely hard. Reaching out to your valued clients and suppliers at this time to agree on a plan for action for payment can prevent the need for formal legal action. If legal action cannot be avoided, the courts are still processing claims to recover debts. If you do need help regarding your options for recovering money you are owed, speak to a debt recovery legal specialist as soon as possible to clarify your options and help you work out the best plan of action. For a free 15-minutes legal consultation, please visit www.lawbite.co.uk
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