?I can?t possibly take my client to court, that would be terrible for the relationship and I?ll never get any work out of them again.?This is the first objection I always hear and I accept that it?s a risk, but think of it this way. It?s not you putting the relationship at risk, it?s your client. You?ve fulfilled your part of the bargain ? they?re the one at fault by not paying you when they agreed to. When it comes to legal action, you have two options.
Statutory demandIf you are owed more than ?750 by a company, or ?5,000 by an individual, and the debt is undisputed, your first option is to issue a statutory demand. This is quick and easy. There is just one form to complete and no fees to pay. It?s very effective because it?s the first step to winding up a company or making someone bankrupt and if your client is running a profitable business, then they won?t want this to happen.
Legal actionIf you are claiming less than the amounts required to issue a statutory demand, or your debt is disputed, you will need to take the second option of starting legal action through the courts. If you?re claiming less than ?10,000, which is probably the case for the vast majority of unpaid invoices, the courts will class it as a small claim. The court rules for small claims are simplified to make the whole process quicker and easier to follow, so you should be able to represent yourself without needing a lawyer. In the next article in this series I will explain the four things you need to prove to a judge to win your case without a lawyer. The second objection I hear about starting legal action comes from the fear people have about standing up in court and arguing their case in front of a judge. If you are thinking this, don?t worry. Going to court is nowhere near as bad as it seems. Also, the chances of you actually getting there are very low. Of all cases, 97 per cent will settle before getting to trial, and I find that the more prepared you are to go to court, the less likely you will be to get there.
EnforcementThe final stage of recovering unpaid invoices?is enforcement. In the rare circumstances that you go to court, win and your client still doesn?t pay, you need to start enforcement action against them. This is the stage where many people give up, which is a shame because you?re so close to getting paid. The most effective way of enforcing a judgement is instructing bailiffs to go and seize items of your client?s property to be sold. The proceeds are then used to repay your debts. So, as you can see, recovering unpaid invoices is actually quite simple. The question is whether you are prepared to do what?s necessary to recover it. If you are, and you need any support to recover your unpaid invoices, please ask a question beneath this article. I have plenty of free resources that I would be happy to send you to help you through this process. Read on to find out how to resolve a breach of contract.
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