Recovering Bad Debts

Most small business owners work very hard to provide their goods and services to others and are passionate about their product or service they have to offer. Unfortunately, it is amazing how many small businesses put the issue of getting paid on the back burner, especially if the amount due to be paid is quite small. The reality is unless you have the processes in place to get paid for your goods or services on time, you are placing your business at risk. This means you need to ensure that your customers understand how much they need to pay, when they need to pay by and which methods they can use to pay you, such as cheque, EFT, credit card, etc.

One solution is to have General Terms of Business or Trade conditions printed on your quotations and agreements. We can assist you in reviewing and/or amending your terms of trade or credit applications.

If despite your best efforts of enforcing your terms of trade you find that your customer still has not paid their outstanding invoice, you may have to pursue legal action against them to recover the debt.

If your terms of trade include the right for you to charge your customer the cost of debt collection, you should not hesitate in seeking the assistance of your lawyer to assist you in the debt collection process. If your terms of trade do not include such right, we offer packaged solutions which deal with each step of the litigation process and which are based on the court’s scale of fees.

The first step is to ask your lawyer to send a letter of demand which should prompt your customer to negotiate with you for repayment of the debt. Commencing legal action against a customer should be a last resort. Sometimes the amount of the debt is too much to let go and you might have to show your customer the seriousness of the situation which can often encourage a settlement of an outstanding account.

If a judgment is obtained in your favour with the court, there is a range of enforcement options, including:

* Bankrupting the customer where the judgment debt is $5,000 or more
* Garnishing wages
* Seizing any unencumbered assets owned by the customer and selling them at auction
* Forcing the customer to attend a public examination at court where they are questioned on their assets and liabilities
* The attachment of the judgment debt to real estate and the subsequent enforcement of the debt by the sale of such real estate

If you need assistance recovering a bad debt, please do not hesitate to contact us at michael.pobi@pobilawyers.com

Please note that the information contained in this article is not legal advice and should not be relied upon. You should obtain legal advice before you take any action or otherwise rely upon the contents of this article.