For your business to be successful, it is vital that clients, suppliers and other organisations you work with on a day-to-day basis, pay money that they owe on time. Many businesses, particularly in sectors such as recruitment or real estate, are vulnerable to financial risk from bad debt and late paying clients.

We understand that cash flow is paramount to every business and most businesses will at some point have difficulties in obtaining payment of invoices despite using in-house credit control procedures or debt collection agencies.

Our debt recovery specialists help companies ranging from large PLCs through to owner managed businesses and sole traders in Hertfordshire, London and across the UK to recover debts. We see our debt recovery team as an extension of your own credit control and will work with you to ensure that our service integrates with your internal procedures.

Commercial debt recovery options to suit you

We appreciate one size does not fit all and will tailor make our service to your specific needs whilst providing certainty of cost and expense.

There are three levels of service for you to choose from. Contact someone in our debt recovery team to talk through what option will work best for your business.

The service consists of sending your debtor a letter of claim and up to two further chaser letters if no response is received. There is no cost to you for this service unless a recovery is made by us, in which case a percentage of the recovery made will be payable. This no win no fee service is best suited to undefended debts with no substantive dispute.

We charge a fixed fee for standard letters of claim. This includes our costs for drafting the letter and claiming statutory interest and compensation. It does not include any advice on the merits of the claim, the provision of management information or any follow up work.

In business disputes can happen, this can range from debt based on an unpaid invoice through to a more complex contractual dispute. For more complex cases, we can help you by sending a bespoke letter detailing why the payment is due and addressing the points of dispute.

Often once a detailed reasoning has been given this is enough to prompt payment. However, if payment remains outstanding and negotiation is not successful we can advise you on what options are available to you. This bespoke service is charged at our hourly rates.

Why choose Debenhams Ottaway?

  • Unlike debt collectors we are a regulated firm of solicitors. This means we can not only recover undisputed debts but also provide a cost-effective strategy for disputed debts and evasive debtors who might avoid conventional recovery methods.
  • Involving debt recovery lawyers at an early stage usually focuses the debtors mind as it demonstrates escalation of the debt recovery process.
  • You’ll have a single point of contact for all debts, including disputed debts, right from the initial contact with the debtor to secure your money, through to court action and possible bankruptcy or insolvency if required.
  • We have sophisticated processes in place that enables us to tailor our services to your needs. We can handle small one-off cases right though to large volumes of cases.
  • We work with our dedicated insolvency team and network of insolvency practitioners should the debtor become insolvent. Our extensive knowledge of insolvency options often provide fast and effective recovery of undisputed debt.

Contact our commercial debt recovery specialists in Hertfordshire

If your business is vulnerable to financial risk from bad debt and late paying clients or suppliers, contact us to find out what option works best for you.

Frequently asked questions for commercial debt recovery

In our experience acting quickly will increase your chances of a positive recovery. The first step would be to send a letter before action to the debtor which is a simple demand for payment.

If the debt is owed by a company and your contract with them does not deal with the issue of costs then you can rely on The Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 which allows you to recover reasonable costs of collecting the debt if the compensation does not cover your costs.

If your contract does not have a clause that allows you to charge interest on an overdue invoice then you are able to rely on The Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 which entitles you to interest at 8% above the Bank of England’s base rate.

This is a set of court rules that govern the process collecting debts from individuals to include sole traders and guarantors.

If the defendant does not respond to your claim, you will be able to request the court enter judgment in default. The court will immediately issue a judgment that is payable immediately in full.

Once proceedings have been issued, the defendant could decide to dispute the debt owed to you. This would be referred to as filing a defence. If a defence if filed at court, the court would forward us a copy of the defence which we would refer to you. You would then decide if you want to continue with your claim and if so, we would advise you on the next steps.

If the defendant files a defence then a summary judgement may be available to speed up the process of obtaining judgment, but you would need to provide further documentary evidence to prove your claim. It is an application that can be made to court if the defendant does not stand a reasonable prospect of success and there is no other compelling reason why the matter should be dealt with at a full trial.

In many circumstances payment will be received once judgment is obtained. If the judgment remains unpaid it will remain on the Register of Judgments for six years and usually will make it difficult to obtain credit. It is therefore in the debtor’s best interest to make payment. Unfortunately, payment cannot be guaranteed and you may need to take steps to enforce the judgment. We can advise on the most suitable method of enforcement and carry out the necessary steps on your behalf.

There are various ways of enforcing judgement to make sure you get the money owned to you. These include:

  • high court enforcement officers
  • third party debt orders
  • charging orders
  • orders for sale following a charging order
  • attachment of earnings orders
  • orders to attend court for questioning.


Debt recovery solicitors can purse your debt through the courts if required, including dealing with disputes related to your invoices.

The process differs in so far as there is a different pre-action protocol for individuals including sole traders and partnerships. Apart from this the process remains the same.

Commercial Debt Recovery and Creditor Services news

What Clients Say
  • Alexander Neale heads up an extremely competent team focusing on insolvency and restructuring from the debt recovery end to large scale corporate restructuring.

    The Legal 500 UK 2023
  • They are all hard-working, commercial and pragmatic lawyers who go the extra mile for clients. The firm has a good collegiate culture and a modern settlement-focused approach to litigation.

    The Legal 500 UK 2023
  • Debenhams Ottaway are a very professional and long established firm.

    The Legal 500 UK 2022
  • Constructive and concise explanations, friendly and helpful advice at every turn – we are truly grateful for the help you have given us.

  • The entire service from start to finish was excellent, from the initial phone enquiry to the provision of notes from the solicitor, the whole process was faultless, professional, courteous, high standard from the beginning to the end. I cant recommend this firm enough, truly supportive, helpful and understanding.

  • Kept us informed all the way through the process from start to finish and were very happy with the resolution. Thank you.

  • Ease of contact and very professional in all aspects of the service. Highly recommended.


Our Commercial Debt Recovery and Creditor Services charges

Find out more about our charges.