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Litigation & Disputes

Debt Recovery & Enforcement Solicitors

Being owed money can be an unsettling situation, potentially impacting your entire life or business until you have reobtained the funds owed. At Kingsfords, we recognise the anxiety and pressure that owed debt can have on an individual, their family, or a business’s continuing viability, and for this reason, it’s absolutely crucial to have specialist advice.

Our team of debt recovery and enforcement solicitors provide a bespoke service and always work proactively to get the desired results as quickly as possible. When you choose to work with us, we will provide close personal support, along with clear, realistic advice about what can be achieved. We have worked with a raft of clients, from those with simple to resolve debt litigation to matters far more complex that required ongoing support. So, no matter your situation, we are ready to back you and help find the best short and long-term solution.

It may be possible for matters to be swiftly and simply resolved in a non-confrontational way. Our team have a wealth of experience resolving matters through the means of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), such as negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. This reduces the cost, time and inherent stress compared to the litigation process and may be the best option to get what you need.

Court litigation may be a daunting prospect due to the uncertainty of outcome arising along with the expense, time, and stress it may cause. Our team always aim to resolve matters without the need for contentious court proceedings, but where it is more appropriate to achieve the resolution you deserve, we have a strong success rate and will tirelessly fight your corner.

Our debt recovery and enforcement solicitors have expertise in matters including:

  • Drafting and sending a letter before action
  • Negotiation
  • Alternative dispute resolution
    • Mediation
    • Arbitration
  • Applying to court for a County Court Judgement (CCJ)
  • Enforcing any unpaid CCJ through a variety of processes, including insolvency

Speak to our debt recovery and enforcement solicitors in Kent today

Speak to one of our debt recovery and enforcement solicitors at our offices in Ashford, Cranbrook or Hythe today by calling 01233 624545 or fill in our enquiry form on the right hand side of the page to request a call back.

Our debt recovery and enforcement expertise

Letter before action (LBA)

The initial action that can be taken when endeavouring to recover debts is simply by calling the debtor or sending a letter before action or otherwise known as an LBA. This will be compliant with the mandatory Court Rules, and protocols to protect your position should court action be required

An LBA usually includes but is not limited to details, such as:

  • Details concerning the debtor
  • The amount of debt owed
  • The overdue nature of the debt
  • Interest and extra charges information
  • What the original payment terms were
  • Details of how and when the debtor needs to pay
  • The implications should they fail to discharge the liability

Debtors are more likely to repay their debts when they are aware that solicitors are involved and that there is the potential for further action to be taken against them.

Our solicitors will work with you to create a robust letter before action that clearly sets out all the necessary details. 

Pre-action debt recovery

Before you are able to go through court litigation, the court will expect you to attempt to resolve how the debt will be repaid through pre-action debt recovery methods, such as using Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods, including mediation and arbitration.

Reference to the availability of these forums will be contained within the LBA and may induce settlement.

When you choose to work with our debt recovery and enforcement lawyers, we will take the time to clearly set out your argument and supporting evidence in hopes of quickly obtaining the debt owed to you.

Using pre-action debt recovery methods has many advantages, including being quicker, less expensive, and less likely to cause unnecessary conflict. In some instances, you may not wish to jeopardise a long standing relationship. We are, therefore, conscious of the desirability of securing payment in a tactful, diplomatic fashion to allow the valued relationship to be put back on an even keel. Conversely, where a more robust approach is considered apposite, we can advise you on how best to achieve the required outcome by identifying the best pressure points to enhance the prospect of a recovery   

Court action debt recovery

Where pre-action debt recovery has been attempted and unsuccessful, court action may be the only appropriate method to reobtain your owed money.

When you choose to initiate court action, an application will need to be made to the courts, and the debtor will be served with a claim form. When they receive the form, they will have 14 days to take action.

The actions that the debtor can take include:

  • Paying the debt
  • Offering a payment plan
  • Negotiating the debt
  • Filing a defence against the claim
  • Filing an acknowledgement of service, indicating an intention to defend in full or part

There are fairly common situations where, despite the debtor being served with a claim form, no action is taken by them. If this is the case, then we can file a Request to enter Judgment after the 14 day period to secure a County Court Judgement (CCJ).

The debtor has three options after receiving a CCJ, to pay back the money, enter into negotiation in that regard or apply to court for the judgement to be set aside. In general terms, a Judgment will only be set aside if the court is satisfied that the defendant never received the Claim form or alternatively, that there is a real defence to the claim with a genuine prospect of success. Our enforcement lawyers will guide you through the process if any defendant either seeks to negotiate a repayment plan or makes an application to the court to set the judgment aside – seeking leave to defend the claim.

Debt enforcement

If the debtor has been issued with a CCJ but has not taken any action or refuses to pay the debt, the onus is upon you to ensure that you receive your owed funds. This involves the implementation of more or more separate enforcement routes to maximise your prospects of a recovery. Our enforcement lawyers look at each action on its own merits before advising you of the optimum process to invoke to optimise your recovery prospects.

Examples of the appropriate actions that can be taken to enforce debt being paid include:

  • Third Party Debt Order – if you believe that the debtor has the money to pay the debt back to you, this type of court order can be used to freeze and divert funds held in the debtor’s bank, building society, or what is owed to the debtor by another individual, business, organisation, or institution. The beauty of this application is that the debtor will not be made aware of the application until the bank account, more commonly, is frozen to the tune of the judgment and costs of the exercise under an interim order.
  • Charging Order – if the debtor owns property the debt can be secured against their home or another property (or indeed shares, etc.), which risks them losing that property if the debt is not paid. Where appropriate, we can apply for an Order for Sale of the charged property to turn the charge into cash.
  • Attachment of Earnings Order – this order instructs the debtor’s employer to send the owed funds directly to the court, which will then forward this to the creditor in the absence of voluntary payments being maintained.
  • Warrant/Writ of Control – this allows the County Court bailiffs, or more commonly a High Court Enforcement Officer in cases for debts over £650.00, to collect payment or seize possessions owned by the debtor – for subsequent sale at auction.
  • Order to attend court to provide Information. This compels the defendant to attend court and, on oath, complete a detailed questionnaire as to their financial circumstances and assets and to make proposals for repayment. This may not induce payment itself but may provide you with sufficient information to use an alternative process to optimise your prospects of a recovery. Ultimately the debtor may be committed to prison for contempt of court if they fail to engage in the process.
  • Insolvency Petitions. Our enforcement lawyers can advise you of the benefits and tactics involved in bringing a Petition for the debtor’s personal bankruptcy or for a company to be placed into compulsory liquidation in the event a judgment remains unpaid and/or the debtor fails to address a Statutory Demand served upon them.
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Frequently asked questions about debt recovery and enforcement

How long does it take to recover debts?

While it isn’t possible to put an exact timeframe on debt recovery as each situation is different, we can provide an average estimation, and this will depend on the circumstances.

In complicated cases, often for larger sums of money, a negotiation period may be advisable.

For straightforward debts, matters can be brought to a head much quicker.

If negotiations are preferred, debtors often take an average of 60-90 days to seek an agreement over how debts will be paid.

If you reach the 90 day period and still do not have the owed money, the next step is to send the debtor a Letter Before Action. If the debt is against an individual, it’s recommended to wait at least 30 days before taking further court action to be compliant with the court protocols in place. For business debts, a 14 day notice period is often enough before escalating to court action.

In more complicated matters, the next best option where an LBA has not worked is to seek a form of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation. There is no specific time frame for how long this will take, as mediation meetings can often take more than one attempt depending on the circumstances of the case.

After you have exhausted all these options and are still faced with not having been reimbursed the debts owed, court proceedings will be the next step. Unfortunately, taking an individual or business to court can be a lengthy process, with the expected time frame up to 30 weeks.

How long do you have to recover a debt?

While there is no strict time limit set to recover a debt that is owed to you, there are certain prohibitions after a period of time.

In most circumstances, if, after 6 years, any debt has not had any action taken against it, the debt can be declared as ‘statute barred’. This means that no successful court action can be taken to make the debtor pay the debt owed to you. You can still take other actions, such as negotiations and mediation, but the debtor may choose to ignore and not pay the debts.

Debts such as mortgages have a longer time frame.