The Letter Before Action Form
For us to begin the process of business debt recovery, the first step is usually sending out a Letter before Action. Forms must be received before 3.30pm if you wish them to be actioned on the same day.
Pre-Action Debt Protocol
Following the introduction of new rules on 1st October 2017, a creditor must follow the process in recovering a debt from an individual (including sole traders) before starting Court Proceedings.
Failing to comply may lead to the Court imposing sanctions on the Creditor to include, staying the Proceedings and possible costs sanctions.
The purpose of the Protocol is to encourage discussions and negotiations between the parties and to encourage settlement to avoid Court Proceedings. The parties should act reasonably and proportionately in order to resolve issues relating to the unpaid debt so that only cases which cannot be resolved are processed through the Court system.
Commercial debts are excluded from this Pre-Action Protocol but are subject to similar guidelines.
Letter Before Action
A Letter Before Action must always be sent to the debtor. The Pre Action Protocol requires further detail to be included such as:
- The amount of the debt and how the debt has arose
- Any interest or other charges accrued
- Where the debt was assigned and by whom
- Whether the debt arises from a verbal agreement and if so, who made the agreement and what was agreed
- Whether the debt arises from a written agreement and if so, the date of the agreement and a copy of the agreement
- Details of any possible instalments arranged
- Details of how the debt can be paid
- The address to who the completed reply form can be sent to
Copy documentation must also be included within the letter such as, an up to date Statement of Account/copy invoices, “Information Sheet”, “Reply Form” and the “Financial Statement Form”.
The Letter Before Action must be sent by post only unless the debtor consents to another form of communication and they must be given 30 days from the date of the letter to respond.
Response By the Debtor
The Debtor should reply to the Letter Before Action within 30 days of receipt via the Reply Form. The Creditor may need to allow additional time depending upon the debtor’s response as they may request copy documents or request time to seek legal advice.
Any request for additional documentation should be responded to within 30 days of the request. The Protocol encourages early disclosure as a means to settle disputes outside of Court. If the debt is disputed, the Creditor should send their detailed response within 30 days of the debtor’s reply.
Court Proceedings cannot be issued within the 30 day deadline and should always be a last resort. Consideration should also be given to ADR if appropriate. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the creditor should consider whether Court Proceedings can be avoided or at least, whether any of the issues can be agreed upon prior to issuing Proceedings.
If Court Proceedings are necessary, the Creditor must give the debtor 14 days’ notice of their intent to issue the Claim.
Our standard Pre-Action 30 day letter can cost you as little as £10.00 plus VAT. Alternatively, you can send the debtor a standard 14 Letter Before Action however you should take into account the Court’s sanctions for non-compliance with the Protocol.
The Pre Action Protocol Guidelines can be found at https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/pdf/protocols/debt-pap.pdf