MY last article talked about the need to get tough when it comes to dealing with any bad payers.

Hopefully, you will be able to resolve most issues at an early stage.

However, if you feel that you’re just not getting anywhere and not getting paid, you will need to consider court action.

Litigation can be daunting.

Thoughts of huge solicitors’ bills and lengthy, complex proceedings probably spring to mind.

But using a solicitor for a debt recovery case need not be expensive as many firms offer fixed fee packages allowing you to stay in complete control.

Furthermore, a recent HM Court Service User Survey found that 82% of individuals appearing as party in a case were satisfied with their court experience, so court proceedings should not be ignored as a debt recovery tool.

If you are about to commence court action, my number one tip is that old Boy Scout motto – Be Prepared.

The court will not look favourably on a claimant who cannot argue his case fully due to lack of preparation.

Court rules provide that initially a letter of demand (commonly known as a Letter Before Action) is sent to the debtor and this must set out specific details of the monies owing.

The same advice applies when it comes to issuing proceedings.

The claim form should include every single element of your claim, including interest.

If you miss something, you may come across some real difficulties trying to include it at a later stage.

In my experience, most debt claims are not disputed and most claimants will sail through to the judgement stage.

This is where the claimant can ask the court to issue a judgement in default, when a defence has not been made.

Of course, things don’t always go according to plan and your debtor may defend the claim.

You will then need to consider whether there is any merit in the defence and whether it’s worth pursuing the claim to the end in terms of costs and time.

Your solicitor will be able to help you make the right decision.

If you do decide to fight the good fight, the court will set deadlines for actions to be carried out, such as the exchange of witness statements.

When you receive a court order asking you to do something, it is essential that you adhere to it to the letter, and on time.

The court hearing itself – if in the small claims court – will be relatively informal, but you can have solicitors represent you if you prefer.

With my experience in litigation I am well placed to help you with your debt recovery matters and I will be able to guide you through every step of the way.

If you have any debt recovery questions, email them to me at clare.tollick@armitage and I will answer them in the last article of this series in a forthcoming issue of Kirklees Business News.