It is important to have all the details and agreements about your services properly recorded. The easiest way of doing this is by confirming all appointments, and orders in writing.
You may wish to include your terms of business in you conditions.
The terms should be kept as short as possible and be written in plain English so that they are easy to understand.
Obtaining payment for your services should not present a problem most of the time but occasionally you will come across the client that doesn't want to pay.
First of all make sure that you keep a record of any requests for payment including both letters and phone calls (time and dates).
A final demand for payment should be sent by recorded delivery letter.
When all else fails you may have to resort to taking out a summons in the small claims court. Don't worry the procedure is simple.
The following notes explain briefly the procedure taken and the additional costs which may be incurred if payment of the debt is not made.
Should a summons be issued by court, costs will be incurred and added to the debt. These costs vary according to the amount owing
An entry of judgement is made in the Register of County Court Judgements and stays in the Register for 6 years. This could affect any application for credit or mortgage. Further costs are added at this stage.
A warrant is served by a Bailiff who has the right to put a restraint on goods in order to recover all or part of the debt. Further costs are incurred at this stage.
What is a small claim ?
A small claim is a claim for 1000:00 or less made through a county court. Most small claims are about money that people owe. But they can also be for damage caused by someone else to your property.
A claim may be for
Debt, bad workmanship, accident, goods not supplied, faulty goods, loans.
What should I do before I make a claim ?
Think carefully about starting a claim. You may be wasting your time and money if the person you are claiming from does not have the money to pay.
Write to the person who owes you the money. Say how much and what it is for. Include a warning that you will start a claim through the court if it is not paid; sometimes they will pay up and you will not have to go to court.
STARTING A CLAIM
The court will give you the forms you need and the court staff will tell you what to do next.
If you need help filling in the forms a Citizens Advice Bureau or Consumer advice Centre will help.
Remember that court staff are not solicitors. They cannot give legal advice or answer questions like:-
Am I claiming from the right person?
Do I have a good claim?
How much money should I claim?
Where do I start my claim?
You can start a claim in any court.
The address and telephone number of all county courts are listed in the telephone directory under courts
How much will it cost?
The fee of starting your claim will depend on the amount you are claiming. The staff at any county court will be able to tell you how much it is.
What will happen when I have paid my fee?
You will be given a form N205A which will be a receipt for your fee and tell you the case reference number. (This form is called a notice of issue)
The court will post a copy of the summons and a reply form N9A and B to the defendant.
The defendant has 14 days to return the reply form. The 14 days start on the day after the defendant gets the summons.
How will I know when the defendant gets the summons?
The court will tell you when the defendant gets the summons. The date will be shown on your notice of issue or on form N222 (a notice of service) which the court will send you.
Convention testimonials Thank you very much for letting me take part in this year's SWPP Conference. I had a fantastic time and learnt much whilst assisting in the programme of events. Steve Broadley
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