Debt recovery – what’s involved & pricing
Every case is different and there are a range of variables to take into account when giving a cost estimate. For example, these include the available documentation; the location of the debtor; the reason for non-payment; the size of the debt; and the financial position of the debtor.
The work involved will vary depending upon whether the debtor is an individual or a company; or to recover the debt as a breach of contract; or to start proceedings for bankruptcy of an individual or to wind up a company. Enforcement of the debt recovery will also be affected by where the debtor is.
The team which undertakes debt recovery work comprises:
- Trainees and Paralegals with 1 to 3 years’ experience – between £150 per hour plus VAT (@20%) and £250 per hour plus VAT (@20%).
- Other solicitors and legal executives – between £200 per hour plus VAT (@20%) and £225 per hour plus VAT (20%).
- Solicitors and legal executives with over 3 years’ post qualification experience – between £225 per hour plus VAT (@20%) and £350 per hour plus VAT (@20%)
- Associate and any solicitors with over 8 years post qualification experience between £250 per hour plus VAT (@20%) and £400 per hour plus VAT (20%).
- Partners between £300 per hour plus VAT (@20%) and £500 per hour plus VAT (@20%).
The team is supervised by Simon Bean, who has experience working in civil and commercial litigation, including debt recovery. Our hourly rates for supervising partners is between £300 per hour plus VAT (@ 20%) and £500 per hour plus VAT (@20%)
Depending on your circumstances and requirements, we charge on the basis of hourly rates or fixed fees (which are calculated by reference to hourly rates, complexity and urgency). VAT is payable at the prevailing rate (@ 20%).
Given the variance in the types of debts that we seek to recover on behalf of our clients, it is difficult to provide an average cost.
For a simple debt recovery with one individual debtor, the average charge to recover the debt prior to the commencement of any court proceedings range from £300 plus VAT (@20%) of £60 (total cost £360) to £1000 plus VAT (@ 20%) of £200 (total cost £1,200). The latter example is in cases where more correspondence and/or negotiation is required.
For a debt recovery court action that proceeds to an eventual trial, to recover a sum not exceeding £10,000 our average charge is in the region of £3,000 plus VAT (@20%) of £600 (total cost £3,600) plus the court Issue fee (up to £410). You will only recover fixed costs that are allowed under rule 45 of the Civil Procedure Rules, unless your contract with the debtor provides for you to recover your legal costs as a contractual term.
For a court action to recover a debt of £10,000 to £100,000, our charges will depend on, for example, the actual financial sum involved; the complexity of the case; and whether or not it is contested. For actions that result in an eventual trial, our charges will be in the region of £5000 plus VAT (@ 20%) of £1000 (total £6,000) to £15000 plus VAT (@ 20%) of £3000 (total £18,000).
For cases where it is appropriate to serve a statutory demand and then issue a bankruptcy/winding up petition, typically our charges range from £600 plus VAT (@ 20%) of £120 (for the review of documentation and drafting, and service, of a statutory demand in simple cases) to £5,000 plus VAT (@ 20%) of £1,000 for more complex cases. Examples include cases where a petition for bankruptcy/winding up is contested, and results in a final hearing at court. Typically there are the following additional costs:
- £990 (bankruptcy) or £1600 (winding up) petition cost
- £280 court issue fee
- £100 process server fee
These are estimates based on our experience. We are committed to providing you with cost estimates and choices about our fees once we have established your specific requirements. This document does not constitute legal advice or an offer. We will be happy to discuss your needs and requirements on a tailor-made basis.
What is included in the service
- Meet with you and obtain/review all documents relevant to the debt
- Advise on the options available to recover the debt
- Advise on any jurisdictional issues dependent upon where the contract was entered in to and where the debtor either resides or is in business
- Advise on any limitation issue and as to your position generally
- Advising on what interest you can add to the debt
- Prepare and send a letter of claim to the debtor before proceedings are started, and pursuant to the pre-action protocol for debt claims
- Review any response received to the letter of claim with you and provide any necessary advice
- Engage in any negotiation by way of “without prejudice” correspondence and/or telephone attendances on the debtor or their solicitors
Issuing a claim in the county court
- In the event that the matter is not resolved by pre-litigation work, as outlined above, then prepare and draft the claim form and any separate particulars of claim and issue the claim at court
- Receive, consider and take your instructions on any defence and counterclaim filed by the debtor
- Consider whether it is appropriate to prepare and serve a reply to the defence and, if so, draft a reply and a defence to any counterclaim
Case management where the sum claimed is less than £10,000
- Take your instructions, complete the directions questionnaire and file it at court
- Prepare witness statements and exchange them with the defendant/defendant’s solicitor
- Agree the identity of an expert with the defendant (if relevant) and, thereafter, instruct the expert and report the outcome
Case management in cases where the same claimed is more than £10,000
- Take your instructions, complete the directions questionnaire and file it at court
- Correspond with the other side, or their solicitors, to seek to agree directions
- Make any necessary arrangements for the case management conference (CMC)
- Prepare a costs budget
- Receive and review the other side’s costs budget
- Instruct counsel to attend the CMC if appropriate
- Prepare for and attend the CMC
- Carry out any work in finalising any directions order made by the court
- Advise upon your obligation to disclose documents
- Correspond with the other side, or their solicitors, in relation to the scope of disclosure and any queries arising thereof
- Obtain and review documents for disclosure
- Prepare your list of documents
- Receive and consider the other side’s list of documents
- Instruct counsel and review his/her advice with you where necessary
- Identify the relevant witnesses with you
- Make contact with those witnesses and discuss evidence the witnesses are able to give
- Draft any relevant witness statements
- Instruct counsel to advise on the content of the witness statements if necessary
- Review counsel’s advice and make any necessary amendments to the witness statements
- Finalise all witness statements and serve them on the other side or their solicitors
- Receive and review the other side’s witness statements
- Take your instructions and carry out any further investigation required
- If appropriate, instruct counsel to advise, in writing or in conference, generally as to the status of the claim at this stage
Pre-trial review (multi-track cases)
- Prepare the necessary bundle of documents for the purposes of the pre-trial review (PTR) hearing
- Prepare updated costs budget and review the other side’s costs budget
- Prepare and agree the chronology and case summary
- Correspond with the other side, or their solicitors, to seek to agree directions and costs budgets
- Complete and file the pre-trial check list
- Attend the PTR hearing
- Instruct counsel to advise, in writing or in conference, and attend the PTR hearing
- Agree the trial bundle index with the other side or their solicitors
- Prepare the trial bundles
- Carry out any ancillary preparation for the trial
- Agree counsel’s fees with counsel’s clerk
- Formally instruct counsel to represent you at the trial
- Instruct counsel to advise, in writing or in conference, as necessary
- Liaise with witnesses and make any necessary arrangements in relation to the trial taking place
- Attend the first day of the trial, and any additional days on which the trial takes place
- Carry out any further investigative work arising as a result of events taking place during the trial
- Obtain any additional documents, or witness statements, that may be required during the course of the trial
- Receive and consider any judgment handed down in draft
- Attend the handing down of judgment, either at the end of the trial or at a separate hearing
- Take your instructions in relation to any applications for costs
- Instruct counsel to advise, either in writing or in conference, following the conclusion of the trial
- Finalise any order of the court where required necessary
- Deal with any actions required by the parties as a result of the order made at the end of the trial
- Deal with any settlement negotiations that take place during the course of the proceedings
- Make any formal offers to settle, whether in accordance with or outside of the Civil Procedure Rules
- Attend any round-table meetings, mediation or other means of alternative dispute resolution
- Advise as to settlement and the risks of litigation
- Draft any settlement agreement or Consent/Tomlin Order bringing the court proceedings to an end
Debt recovery by bankruptcy of an individual or winding up a company
As an alternative to a claim to recover the debt in the county court:
- Prepare and arrange for service of a statutory demand upon the debtor
- Liaise with the debtor and represent you on any application made by an individual debtor to set aside the statutory demand at a hearing before a district judge
- Prepare and issue a petition for the debtor’s bankruptcy, or a winding up petition in the event that the debtor is a company
- Prepare and file a notice in the London Gazette advertising the presentation of the petition in court
- Represent you through the bankruptcy and winding up process
For details of the team members click HERE