So, dear friends, I come to the fifth and final article in this amazing series which looks at what you can do to try to extract money from a stubborn business debtor.
In the previous articles I have looked at the potential benefits & detriments of issuing a County Court Claim, what you can do prior to going to Court, winding a company up and getting a director to sign a personal guarantee.
This time around I am going back to where I started and will discuss ways to bring a County Court Claim to an early conclusion.
Keep pushing them
Your debtor may be playing hardball and advising you that they will not pay under any circumstances. At this point you could give in and simply drop your Claim thinking that it is going to be way too costly and time-consuming to fight these guys all the way to court. However, maybe this is what they are relying on and this might be a tactic that they use to get out of making payments to suppliers (ever wonder how the Director affords a new car every year?!) so push back and keep the pressure on with a reply to defence and witness statements. It is remarkable how many debtors are adamant that they will not pay you but when faced with a continued barrage of legal documents suddenly take you seriously and decide to pay. When faced with this sort of debtor, it is also worth thinking about your reputation in the marketplace. If words gets out that you will drop a Claim at the first sight of a defence then you might suddenly find yourself writing off a lot of debt. Sometimes, even if you think a debtor will never pay you, it is worth continuing with the action just to create a market precedent that you are not a company who will take not being paid for honest work lying down.
Even if you like playing the hardball game, it is sometimes the case that simply getting out of a Claim with some money in your pocket is the best option. Costs and time can rack up to an unacceptable level so it is worth constantly considering your options. It is never too late to attempt settlement by discussion/correspondence and avoiding a trial can save you large amounts of money. In the larger value claims, Part 36 (of the Civil Procedure Rules) offers are a good way to focus the mind of your debtor on their chances of success because failing to beat such an offer can result in large costs payments needing to be made to you.
Round table meetings, mediation, arbitration and expert determination all represent other ways of trying to work out a settlement. The appropriateness of each one will depend on the exact nature of your Claim and the attitudes of the parties involved. If your matter is a Small Claim, then the telephone Mediation Service provide an excellent service for getting deals done.
As I said before, there is no magic wand to wave to get your money in and there is no one-size-fits-all tactic to play with each debtor. Each case is individual and should be treated as such to find the best option to give you the best chance to get the money you are owed.
Thank you for taking the time to read these articles. May I congratulate you for staying awake through them all! I hope you have gained some vaguely useful knowledge from them!
To Sue or Not to Sue - Part 1 is available to read here.
To Sue or Not to Sue - Part 2 is available to read here.
To Sue or Not to Sue - Part 3 is available to read here.
To Sue or Not to Sue - Part 4 is available to read here.