Frequently asked commercial debt recovery questions

We have compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions surrounding commercial debt recovery.

Our approach to debt recovery begins with a thorough understanding of your business. Before initial instruction we would meet with you to look at your current credit control process and discuss how we could follow on from that with various types of pre legal activities. We send letters and emails and also make calls, the content of the letters would be written specifically for your debts. We can also discuss if you wish for court action to form part of your process and the associated costs with that.

We specialise in business-to-business debt recovery and know the methods that work best in achieving great realisations for our clients. We process debts for customers that also include current clients where they wish to retain their working relationship. Our processes and style of collection is sensitive to our clients’ brands to ensure that brand protection is always at the forefront of our minds. Collecting debts from businesses does not just include large PLCs, PTDs and LLPs, we also deal with the other end of the business spectrum and the sole traders who can often make up a fair proportion of a client’s customer base. As business debt recovery is our specialism we do not collect debts from consumers.

Should you have a contract in place with the debtor, there may be a clause which stipulates the rate of interest you could charge should there be any late payments. Interest can be charged at this rate from the date the invoice(s) fall due for payment. If you do not have a contract in place which stipules a rate of interest, then the following rates would apply:

For business to business debt- interest can be charged at the rate of 8% per annum above the Bank of England Base rate, in accordance with the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998. Interest can be charged from the date the invoice(s) fall due for payment.

For business to consumer debt- interest can be charged at the rate of 8% per annum under Section 69 of the County Court Act 1984, but only at the point that court proceedings are issued. This rate cannot be applied at any time before this.

Pursuant to the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 you are able to charge late payment on each invoice that is overdue. There is a sliding scale stating how much you are able to charge based on the value of the invoice:

Invoice up to: Compensation:

£999.99                        £40
£1000-£9,999.99          £70
Over £10,000                £100

You may choose to simply add one compensation charge based on the overall value of the debt but the option is there to charge per invoice. One point to note is that you should ensure that the compensation costs added to a debt are proportionate. We have also found that our client’s notice the compensation charges recovered, contribute to the fees paid in recovering the debt.

We are a multi-award winning department with a proven track record of successfully collecting debts in a cost effective way. Click here to see what our clients have said about us.

For further information on why you should instruct Flint Bishop, please click the following link: Why Choose Us.

No- low value debts can be accommodated and included in your tailored pre-legal procedure and pricing structure.

For bulk instructions, a template spreadsheet would be provided to you containing the required fields for you to populate and provide to us each time you have a set of cases to refer to us. The spreadsheet will then be uploaded into our system allowing a quick turnaround time for actioning the cases referred to us. Cases can be referred at any frequency to suit you; daily, weekly, monthly or on an ad hoc basis.

Ideally as soon as you reach the end of your internal credit control process. Debt becomes more difficult to collect the more days overdue it is. However, that being said we do know that it may not be possible due to time or system constraints. We process debts for clients from 10 to 365 or more days overdue and still achieve good levels of recoveries. We would look at the age of your debts with you and see if we can assist in reducing the overdue days by the time it is referred to us.

There can be lots of variables when trying to recover a debt, which will have an impact on the length it can take to recover it. If the debtor has an inability to pay, then you may face entering into a long term instalment agreement in order to recover the debt. If the debtor ignores the debt then it may take until the point that an enforcement officer attends the premises in order to prompt payment.

Alternatively the debtor may just be trying their luck at ignoring your credit control reminders to see if you are going to follow through with referring the debt externally for collection. If this is the case, a payment could be made on receipt of our Letter Before Action. So as you can see, the length of time it would take varies on a case by case basis.

This can depend on at what stage the debt is recovered. A pricing structure would be put in place that is bespoke to the type and value of debts referred. There are no hidden charges and you would be advised at each stage of the best course of action and the relevant cost associated to this. Should you wish to be provided with a competitive quote, please contact us on 01332 226 474.

Yes, your account can be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via our bespoke debt recovery case management portal. You can see an overview of all of the cases referred, as well as in depth information relating to each case, such as copies of all the communications between ourselves and the debtor. There is also a reporting function allowing you to build and run your own reports at any time to your specification. The portal can be used as our method of communication for requesting and providing instructions and updates. To request a demo of the debt recovery case management portal and to see what other clients using the system have said, please visit the following link: Online Case Management.

You have your internal credit control procedure which ideally should not be too lengthy (if it is too long your customers will get to learn how far they can essentially extend credit terms before making payment). During this time you will hopefully be able to establish if your customers have received the invoices, have any disputes or if they have a genuine financial difficulty in making payment. You will of course always have a certain number who refuse to pay or engage in your credit control process.

Once you have instructed us, you do not have to take quick action to issue a claim, if you do not want to do so. We can offer extensive pre legal work on your debts prior to taking this step. It could be the power of our “solicitor letter” that gets your debtors to engage and either make payment or raise their dispute. If there appears to be a genuine dispute or if the customer is struggling to pay you may consider discounts in order to achieve swifter payment.

We would agree on how you would like recoveries to be sent over to you. Some clients like to receive a weekly BACS payment with a spreadsheet to show them the accounts to allocate the payments to, others prefer to have this once a month. It is entirely up to you.

In short no, we are equipped to handle a large volume of referrals on a spreadsheet in one go, or we can accept individual referrals sent by email. We will work with you to look at a mutually agreeable method so you can make your referrals, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or whatever suits your recovery needs best. We have a variety of ways and frequencies that clients like to refer the debt to us, it all comes down to what will be convenient for you.

DCAs will often charge a lower percentage of recoveries or a very low fixed fee for a letter before action, but this is reflected in the service provided. You will often get a sausage-factory approach without dedicated case handlers that know your business and the service you get may be little more than a post box. Indeed, if you or a debtor asks a question, you will often find a hidden charge over and above any initial low fee.

In addition, DCAs can only deal with your pre-issue cases as issuing court proceedings can only be undertaken by regulated firms of solicitors. Therefore you cannot get a full debt recovery service from a DCA. Often they will refer disputed or complex cases out to their chosen solicitors, who you will have no knowledge of and no control over.

As a full service commercial law firm, we provide a truly bespoke service based on our clients’ businesses and objectives and a seamless journey through your debt recovery processes for both pre-issue and issued claims. So DCAs can be cheaper, but with a much reduced service and the likelihood of hidden charges. Our objective is not to be the cheapest, it is to be the best at recovering your debts, which is more cost-effective to you in the long run than simply taking the cheapest option at the outset.

As a full-service commercial law firm, we are fully equipped to deal with disputed debts. Our commercial litigation team is ranked in tier 1 of the legal 500, the leading directory for law firms. We recognise that the costs of dealing with disputed debts can be prohibitive and therefore we are happy to look at innovative ways to ensure that a dispute does not mean an immediate write-off of the debt.

With some clients we have monthly retainers to deal with disputed and undisputed debts and with others we have agreed fixed or capped fees for disputed debts. We also enter into shared risk arrangements with some clients in the right circumstances. The options are tailored to your individual business requirements and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. We look to work with you to find the right balance between the cost and the benefit of dealing with your disputed debts.

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