Is it better to instruct the Small Business Commissioner’s Office rather than a solicitor or Debt Collection Agency. Let us look at the strengths and weaknesses
Small Business Commissioner’s Office
The Office was set up by the government in
December 2017 and the current Small Business Commissioner is Paul Uppal. As
stated on their website it was set up to “ensure fair payment practices for Britain’s
small businesses, and support them in resolving their payment disputes with
larger businesses and bring about culture change”.
They help small businesses
(defined as businesses with less than 50 employees) deal with invoices that
have been unpaid for up to a year against a business that has more than 50
They will investigate your
complaint and make recommendations (such as referring you to a mediation
service, contact your supplier) within 4-6 weeks; and,
If they believe the
complaint is sufficiently serious they may make the complaint public.
The Commissioner’s Office
is an independent organisation so this could help resolve your dispute with
your customer/ supplier;
Encourages mediation with
the debtor to retain a relationship with the customer/ supplier; and,
If your complaint is made
public this may damage the reputation of the customer/ supplier so this may
make them make payment quicker.
may be delays with the investigation as it is a public body;
recommendations are not legally binding on either party – so your customer/
supplier can decide to ignore the decision;
are not able to deal with cases where the debtor has instructed solicitors – so
wastes time; and,
are unable to deal with disputes to price.
Instruct a Solicitors firm or Debt Recovery
They will usually work quickly to collect your money;
Solicitors will have specialised legal knowledge to deal with any
Their fees may range from either no win or fee, fee paid commission,
fixed fees or hourly rates;
They can advise and help you to issue a claim to receive judgment
against a non-paying customer/ supplier which can be enforced against any
assets they have to ensure you get paid;
Has contacts with tracing agents and other enquiry agents to locate
‘missing’ debtors; and,
They can deal with disputes or unpaid debts from new to old (normally up
to 6 years limitation).
Whilst the Small Business Commissioner supports
small businesses (which is welcomed by all), their decisions are not legally
binding and they do not have the specialised legal knowledge to deal with most disputes
or queries that arise with this area of law.
Collection Centre is a specialist debt recovery service offered by city law firm Devonshires offering
a one-stop-shop for businesses suffering from late payments. The team sends an
initial letter before action on a no-collection, no-fee basis and progresses
the matter in-house through the Courts using the firm’s specialist solicitors.
For speedy assistance in recovering money owed or
further advice on tightening up your debt recovery process, please contact our specialist team.