Managing Your Cash Flow

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How to get your money back

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Once you have been through the Court process and assuming you win you will be given judgement if the person who owes you money does not pay in 14 days. Once that time period has lapsed you can ask a certified bailiff to go onto their premises and cease goods. The Court will also send details of the claim to a central list that is picked up by credit reference agencies. This will badly affect the credit rating of the person who owes you money.

In my experience, if you get to this stage then usually the bailiff goes in and finds there is nothing worth taking or a Licensed Insolvency Practitioner has already been instructed so it is too late. 

If you supplied goods on retention of title and subject to your terms of business being valid then usually you can just take back your identifiable goods without going to Court.
There are a number of creditors who have privileged rights to cease goods and these include landlords owed rent, HM Revenue and Customs and the council for business rates. They do not need to go to Court to get judgement. 

What other options do you have?

If you are owed more than £750 and the debt is not disputed (for example you have gone to Court and got judgement) then you can serve a statutory demand on the person who owes you money. 

Once a formal statutory demand has been served on an individual they have 18 days to apply for it to be set aside (if it is disputed) or a further three days to reach an agreement with the creditor to pay it or provide some security for the debt. If a statutory demand is served against a limited company they have 21 days to deal with it or will have to apply to court if it is disputed.

If they fail to deal with the statutory demand in that time you can then apply to Court for a petition for the winding up or bankruptcy of the business. This can take a further month but once these proceedings have been started they can be very expensive and difficult (but not impossible) to stop and can cause all sorts of problems. For example, once a petition is advertised the bank will pick up on this and freeze the bank accounts of the company that owes you money. After the petition has been issued any disposal of businesses assets is void (unless later approved by the Court). You can feel the costs rising!

Then the actual hearing will take place before a judge to look at the claim and the business that owes you money could be made bankrupt or put into liquidation resulting in the trade stopping (if it has not already).

David Kirk is an insolvency practitioner.

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