TM Law Solicitor Terry Maylin provides an expert guide to the legal recourses open to freelancers and small businesses when all other options to resolve non-payment have been exhausted.
As a freelancer, considering taking legal action against a non-paying client can be a daunting prospect.
There’s often a delicate balancing act, especially with long-term customers. You want to stay on good terms, but not let non-payment become an ongoing issue that impacts on your business.
But you shouldn’t put it off. You’ve worked hard, delivered your services as agreed in advance with your client – and you deserve to be paid well, and on time, for the work that you have done.
Have a process in place for chasing non-payments
Most disputes can be solved by a gentle reminder. But what can you do if your client simply won’t pay, despite your polite prompts?
Firstly, the sooner you do something about it the better. Ideally, you should have a process in place for your invoicing and payments, and stick to it even in the face of persistent non-payment.
The person who deals with producing your invoices should be tasked with chasing an invoice the day it becomes overdue for payment. Maybe that’s you yourself if you’re a freelancer or sole trader, or maybe it’s your bookkeeper or accountant if you’re a small business.
From experience, a phone call is a good way of “reminding” a client to pay an invoice. But if you generally correspond by email, then sending a timely reminder message should be your first mark in the sand.
Next, after a week or so, the person who is owed the money (that’s you!) needs to follow this up, again politely, but decisively. Ask if there is a reason why you have not been paid, and make the point clearly that payment is overdue.
Don’t be afraid to do this, it’s your money, and you’re owed it. And you need to let them know that your payment is important, and something for them to take seriously.
When you need to get a solicitor involved
Hopefully your client discussions have been fruitful, and imminent payment is indicated. But if the non-paying client does not respond to your satisfaction, then you should consider taking further action.
The next step to take is to reach out to your solicitor, one specialising in the needs of the local business community like TM Law.
Have your solicitor write a letter requesting payment, identifying what is owed and when it was due. They should ask for payment, or if there is a problem, make sure the client outlines the reasons why payment has not been made.
This debt recovery letter will also offer, in the event there is a dispute over the money owed, to try and resolve it by alternative dispute resolution – which is a whole new topic, but essentially mean sorting matters out without going to court.
Lastly if all of the above fails, you need to get on with the issue of court proceedings. You can do this yourself online these days. But again, you may prefer to engage your friendly local solicitor to do this for you.
At TM Law we do this for a fixed fee, and the sooner you do it the sooner you will recover the money you are owed for your hard work and put the issue behind you.
The main thing is to recover the money you are legally owed. But it’s also important to bear in mind that you need to maintain your reputation in the business community as someone that will pursue any unpaid debts.
About TM Law – Specialist Debt Recovery Solicitors
Based in Hockley, Essex, TM Law is a small and dedicated solicitors. With many years’ experience, helping business owners and local individuals with matters of personal injury, compromise agreements, employment disputes, debt collection, commercial disputes and much more.
As a specialist debt recovery solicitors, TM Laws’ knowledge of the debt recovery system available to recover money is second to none, and their approach is proven to achieve maximum recovery for minimum outlay on behalf of local business.
For a personal service, practical advice and quick recovery of your money contact us today. We offer a fair, fixed fee service and we’re always happy to help.