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Three very late payers - should I go to Small Claims Court?

  • nerion
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1 year 2 months ago - 1 year 2 months ago #3280 by nerion
Hi all, I hope you can help. I have three late payers and I need some advice on whether or not to take all or some of them to the small claims court.

The first one is pretty straightforward - it's a debt of about £200. I have emailed the customer several times. She's said she'll pay it. but I've still received nothing and this has been going on for a year. I've written her a letter demanding the £40 late payment fee and interest. If she fails to do so, I imagine court is the only option. Am I right?

The second involves a debt of about £100. The customer approved the work but then, once it had been done, decided she didn't like the design (even though she'd already approved it). Despite much chuntering, she said she'd pay the bill in installments. So she paid about £75 in three installments, leaving about £25 remaining. She is now refusing to pay the final amount.

So, again, I have charged the £40 late payment fee and daily interest. Am I right to do that, even though she's paid three quarters of the debt? And, if she still fails to pay up (which I imagine is what will happen), should I go to the small claims court? It wouldn't be worth it for £25, but I guess it would be now the debt is greater (so £65 plus all the interest).

And then there's the third one. This is a debt of about £100 from about three years ago, which I have been chasing for ages. I charged the £40 fee, plus interest. However, the chap in question then went AWOL and I couldn't trace him.

About 18 months ago, I bumped into him - and reminded him of the debt. I offered to drop the late payment charge if he agreed to settle up in the next week. He was all apologies and agreed to do so, giving me his new email address for me to submit the invoice again.

Needless to say he ignored my emails and paid nothing. About a year ago, I found his new address and re-sent the debt letter. It was signed for - but again he paid nothing.

Now I've sent a new letter (the debt now almost £200 with all that interest) and this time he has responded, offering to pay the original invoice but not the late payment charges "as a gesture of goodwill" as the limited company involved is no longer in operation and that he is not liable.

This is true about the business no longer trading, but I have messages from him saying that, even after it went bust, he would pay up. I have told him that his offer is unacceptable - and that I will take him to the small claims court. But am I right to do so, or should I tell him I'll accept his offer if he pays up within the next week or so? I'm not sure how the court would see it as the company is indeed no longer trading.

I know the amounts involved aren't huge, but I earn next to nothing and it's a matter of principle for me more than anything that people should pay for services received. Hope someone can help!

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1 year 2 months ago #3281 by j.salmon@cpa.co.uk
The first two seem straightforward and you could go to the small claims court.

The third one is not so clear. If the company is no longer trading then he is right that legally he has no liability even if he has emailed to say he would be willing to pay you something personally.

I wouldn'y take that to the small claims court. If he pays it is a bonus, but if he doesn't I would forget it.

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  • nerion
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1 year 1 month ago #3292 by nerion
Thanks for the reply. As luck would have it, the third one has now paid. Top tip - if someone stops replying to your emails, copy their dad in on them. Good old Dad paid the debt, all fees and a bit extra on top.

As for the other two, hi ho, hi ho, it's off to court we go!

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1 year 1 month ago #3293 by j.salmon@cpa.co.uk
LOL - Brilliant - if only that was an option with all commercial debts.

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