9 Oct 2019 / Back to latest updates

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

The 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”.

The Complaint Process

  • 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 employees;
  • 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.


  • Free,
  • 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.


  • There may be delays with the investigation as it is a public body;
  • The recommendations are not legally binding on either party – so your customer/ supplier can decide to ignore the decision;
  • They are not able to deal with cases where the debtor has instructed solicitors – so wastes time; and,
  • They are unable to deal with disputes to price.

Instruct a Solicitors firm or Debt Recovery Company

  • They will usually work quickly to collect your money;
  • Solicitors will have specialised legal knowledge to deal with any disputes;  
  • 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.  

The Debt 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.

The Debt Collection Centre


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