Most of our clients’ “straightforward” debt matters are dealt with by Derek Shores. Derek is a Senior Associate Clerk with over 40 years’ experience in civil litigation and debt recovery and is supervised by Head of Department Neil John, who is a solicitor with over 20 years litigation experience. The other members of the civil team are also supervised by Neil John. For more complex cases the matter may be dealt with by Joshua Shuardson-Hipkin (solicitor who qualified in 2016 and has over five years litigation experience), Janet Lane (solicitor with almost 20 years litigation experience) or David Moulton (solicitor with over five years litigation experience).
Average Costs and Timescale
The likely legal costs of any matter depend on the relative complexity of it. If the debt is owed by a company, the Debt Protocol will not apply, so a simple letter before action demanding payment followed by Court Proceedings which, if not defended, should result in a default judgment. The cost of our services is likely to be £500-1,250 + VAT and disbursements.
If the debt sought is owed by an individual, the Debt protocol must be used which adds another level of action, as could a debt claimed on multiple invoices which overlap. The likely cost of reviewing documentation and drafting a protocol compliant letter before action would be in the region of £750-1,500 + VAT. These quotations would include initial review, preparation of the appropriate letter of claim and advising you of the matter.
The Court fee will depend on the amount claimed – a sliding scale between £35 and £455 for cases where up to £10,000 is claimed, and 5% of the total amount claimed from £10,000 upwards. Costs of enforcement are charged once judgment is obtained including an application (£66) to elevate the claim to the High Court for enforcement. A warrant of execution in the County Court for the bailiff to seize goods or recover money is now £121.
Court fees are not subject to VAT but fees for High Court officers to execute the warrant, or enquiry agents to locate the Defendant or serve them in person and those of Counsel to represent you at trial are vatable. Enquiry agent’s fees could vary between £100 and £400 + VAT depending on what they are asked to do. Counsel’s fees for advice are likely to be in the range of £750-2,000 + VAT and depend on how much paperwork there is to consider. Representation at trial is likely to be £3,000-6,000 + VAT for the first day and a refresher of £2,000 – 3,000 + VAT for each subsequent day.
In claims below £10,000, we usually work on fixed fees for the various stages of the work required and can provide a bespoke quotation when instructed for each stage. These may vary between £250 + VAT for completing an Allocation Questionnaire, to £1,000-1,500 + VAT for drafting Particulars of Claim/Defence or witness statements.
On claims between £10,000 and £100,000, we work on an hourly rate for each unit of time spent, usually at £260.00 + VAT per hour. The rate varies according to the experience of the lawyer involved.
The usual cost of a contested matter up to and including trial is £8,000-£20,000 + VAT and Disbursements. This would include preparing the initial letter of claim, dealing with any response or challenge, drafting proceedings or instructing Counsel to do so, complying with standard directions from the Court and preparation of witness statement and trial bundles. It would not include dealing with any counterclaim advanced by the Defendant or attending trial where Counsel is instructed.
As each case is unique, we provide bespoke quotations for everyone which may be higher or lower than the figures above. Time scales are also very difficult to estimate. If payment is made on sending the letter before action, the claim may only take a couple of months. However, a contested claim seeking £100,000 where there are several complicating factors such as a counterclaim or the need to issue an additional claim against a third party could well be two to three years in duration from start to finish.
It should be noted that the Courts are usually working to backlogs and often take a number of weeks to respond to any issues that arise. This can add significant time to the life of a claim through no fault of either party.
Disbursements can also vary largely from case to case. If, for example, a forensic accountant was required to advise the Court in a report on the debt claimed and how the figure is arrived at, that report could cost £2,000-3,000 + VAT. An expert’s report on an aspect of a claim such as a surveyor would probably be in the region of £1,000-2,500 + VAT depending on what information is sought. We will advise you whether any expert’s reports will be needed in your matter and of the cost of the same before we incur it. Any travelling we do on your matter will incur not only the time, but also a mileage rate of 45 pence per mile + VAT. VAT will also be chargeable on parking costs.
Each case, as stated below, is unique and no set timescale is possible to determine. If the Debt protocol must be used, no less than 30 days must elapse from the letter before action being sent and Court Proceedings being issued. That period can be reduced to an absolute minimum of 7 days where the claim is against a business and not an individual.
Once the claim is issued and served by the Court, the Defendant should file a Defence within 28 days, which can be extended to 56 days by agreement. When the Court receives the Defence it orders the parties to file an Allocation Questionnaire to determine which track the case falls into. Fast Track cases (£10,000-25,000 value) should be listed for trail within 22 to 30 weeks from allocation. Higher value cases, or more complex or otherwise judicially important cases are allocated to the Multi Track and often have no set time to be heard.
The usual timetable issued on most cases includes a disclosure of lists of documents, exchange of documents from the lists and witness statements being exchanged. There may also be provision of expert reports after the statements.
These are essential parts of the claim as the parties can see each side’s evidence at a relatively early stage. There is always the possibility of negotiations taking place and often a period of time is given for this after exchange of witness statements or fresh expert evidence.
VAT is invariably chargeable at 20%.
The Key Stages of the claim are therefore as follows:
- Letter of Claim
- Issue of Proceedings
- Service by the Court/Claimant - Defence
- Allocation - Exchange of Documents
- Witness statements - Expert’s Reports
We can advise you on the specific route your claim is likely to take once we have taken instructions from you on the matter.
We do not offer Conditional Fee or Damages Based Agreements (No win, no fee) on Debt recovery matters.
Other Priced Services
Please follow the links below to find out more information about pricing and timings of the following services.
- Residential Conveyancing
- Administration of Estates (Uncontested)
- Employment Tribunals (Unfair/Wrongful Dismissal)
Recommended By The Legal 500 Directory*
*We are recommended for the following practice areas: Corporate and Commercial, Debt Recovery, Employment, Personal Injury: Claimant, Agriculture and Estates, Contentious Trusts and Probate, Family, Personal Tax, Trusts and Probate & Commercial Property.ServicesContact