It is not nice being chased for money, particularly where you do not owe the amount being claimed or where the tactics being employed by a creditor are unduly aggressive and ignore your attempts to deal with matters amicably.
In situations like this, it can be difficult to know what to do and, equally, what not to do to avoid making matters worse. Time will often be of the essence when you are being pursued for a debt, which means that you need to make decisions quickly and ensure you act appropriately.
The debt specialists in our dispute resolution and litigation team are on hand to provide you with advice and support, and to ensure that claims against you for the payment of money are justified and lawfully pursued or else that they are dropped and removed from your credit file.
Our experience extends to dealing with debts that are claimed to be owed by you personally, as well as those for which you are said to be liable under the terms of a personal guarantee or given your involvement in a business in which you were a sole trader or a partner.
We can assist with debts owed to HMRC, utility companies, banks and building societies (including mortgage arrears), credit card companies, hire car companies, catalogues, home improvement businesses, online goods and services providers and local tradespeople.
We can help you to:
- dispute a debt that you claim is not owed;
- respond to a statutory demand;
- defend bankruptcy proceedings;
- advise you on your liability under a personal guarantee;
- object to overzealous attempts at debt collection;
- negotiate a payment plan with a creditor in respect of a debt that is admitted;
- formulate proposals for an individual voluntary arrangement;
- explore the possibility of debt restructuring; and
- participate in any court proceedings that may be issued.
It is not uncommon for people to be chased for debts that they do not owe, or to be pursued for a bigger debt than they are actually liable for. The problem is that not all creditors are prepared to acknowledge this and therefore sometimes, even when it is obvious that a mistake has been made, you can find yourself faced with a creditor who refuses to see reason.
In this scenario, we can step in to explain your position to the creditor and provide evidence of the error that has occurred and the steps that now need to be taken to address it.
Regular problems that we see include HMRC chasing debts that are based on incorrect calculations, utility companies demanding the payment of bills which should have been settled by the previous owners or occupiers of your home, and lenders claiming too much interest.
When a creditor really wants to put pressure on someone to settle a debt, they often decide to serve a statutory demand. This is because, once served, you will only have 21 days in which to deal with the debt – in default of which the creditor can request that you are declared bankrupt.
The problem is that statutory demands can only be used in respect of undisputed debts; so, if you disagree that a debt is owed – for example, because it relates to the supply of goods which were faulty – it should be possible for you to have the demand dismissed and, if you can prove that the creditor knew the debt was disputed at the time the demand was served, you can also usually claim reimbursement of any solicitors costs you have incurred in dealing with the matter.
We specialise in defending clients who have been served with a statutory demand, and have an impressive track record in getting inappropriate demands withdrawn on a voluntary basis.
While most creditors will not go as far as petitioning for your bankruptcy in their quest to recover what they claim is owed, there are some creditors who are willing to take this step and who routinely do so. This includes HMRC and secured lenders, like mortgage companies.
Where a bankruptcy petition is served, it is vital that you seek immediate advice and that where you intend to resist the petition that you instruct a solicitor to represent you.
Our dispute resolution lawyers are all experienced insolvency experts, who have the skills and knowledge to ensure that where grounds for resisting a bankruptcy petition exit these are made clear and pressure is applied on both the creditor and the courts to have the petition dismissed.
Aggressive debt recovery
Where you admit that a debt is owed, but have requested extra time to make payment, you may find that your request is ignored and that the creditor instead decides to go in hard to recover what is owed. While they are free to do this, provided the pressure techniques they apply do not break the law, it can often be possible to persuade them to take a less aggressive approach if you explain your circumstances fully and make sensible suggestions about settling what is due.
Very often, proposals contained in a solicitor’s letter can have far more sway and encourage a creditor to take a more rational approach. Certainly, this is our experience and an area in which we have a lot of success. We have a particularly good track record in dissuading creditors from issuing court proceeding and in holding off enforcing county court judgments through more draconian measures, like charging orders and orders for the sale of your home and property.
Why choose Geoffrey Leaver Solicitors?
Our dispute resolution and litigation team specialise in disputed debt claims and offer a fast and effective service. We are well-known locally and nationally for our skills and expertise and for the respect we command from creditors, who appreciate that any suggestions we make for dealing with a dispute that has arisen will be fair and sensible. This means that when you have us on your side, you stand a much better chance of resolving a debt claim on favourable terms than if you tried to do it yourself or used less experienced advisors.
Please click here for our cost information in relation to Debt Recovery.
What our clients say:
“You have done a brilliant job from start to end and provided the most efficient and professional service.”
For more information about how we can help, you can read testimonials from our dispute resolution clients
Chambers & Partners 2021 notes the team is well-respected and active on a wide range of contractual claims and commercial disputes, including unfair prejudice claims and fraud-related proceedings. Local and international clientele comes from a variety of industry sectors, and also includes private individuals and SMEs. One client commends the “proactive, engaging and considerate” nature of the team.
Chambers & Partners 2020 says ‘Well-respected team active on a wide range of contractual claims and commercial disputes, including unfair prejudice claims and fraud-related proceedings. Local and international clientele comes from a variety of industry sectors, and also includes private individuals and SMEs.’
Legal 500 2020 says ‘Geoffrey Leaver Solicitors LLP’s dispute resolution and litigation practice specialises in commercial property disputes, distribution and agency agreements, debt collection and director, shareholder and partnership disputes. Its work includes dealing with injunctions and freezing orders and work in areas such as insolvency, international trade and IT and e-commerce. Practice head Kenneth Stangoe, Trevor Coward, Guy Brooks and Richard Millard are the key contacts’
The Dispute Resolution & Litigation Team
Ken Stangoe Partner
Dispute Resolution & Litigation 01908 689307Ken is Head of the Department. He has over 20 years' experience as a commercial litigator, with a heavy focus on property disputes, including forfeiture actions and applications for relief, right of way disputes, rent recovery for commercial landlords, trusts of land, dilapidations claims, boundary disputes, rent and service charge recovery and lease renewal applications.
Richard Millard Managing Partner
Construction & Development 01908 689382Richard has over 20 years’ experience acting for clients in the construction industry, providing pragmatic advice to developers, contractors, sub-contractors, design and construction professionals, housing associations, smaller builders and homeowners.
Guy Brooks Partner
Dispute Resolution & Litigation 01908 689304Guy has more than 30 years’ experience in the legal profession and headed up the Commercial Litigation department of local firm Fennemores, before joining Geoffrey Leaver as joint head of the Dispute Resolution department in 2006. The Dispute Resolution department have been recognised by Legal 500 UK.
Trevor Coward Partner
Dispute Resolution & Litigation 01908 689311Trevor specialises in the closely connected fields of commercial litigation, partner/director disputes, insolvency, property litigation, and professional negligence. His background is one of broad experience across a wide range of commercial litigation. He is a member of Legal Counsel International, an alliance of lawyers in 17 countries.