Commercial debt recovery process



The commercial debt recovery process follows a number of steps in order to give the opportunity for resolution before legal action is required. This can help ensure you are paid what is owed quickly and minimise the risk of irreparably damaging business relationships.

Our process involves pre-litigation activity first. If this is not successful, then we can start the process of issuing County Court proceedings. Once awarded a successful judgement, we can help you with the enforcement action required to cover the money owed to you.

We work on a fixed fee basis and depending on the amount of debt outstanding, we have transparent debt collection legal fees, which are competitive and reasonable.


Pre-litigation is the first step in any debt collection legal process, and we aim to resolve as many cases as possible during this stage. Once we have been instructed to collect your outstanding debt, we will send an initial letter that gives the debtor 14 days to make payment. We will also follow this up via phone and text message. If this does not yield results, we will then, with your permission, issue a County Court Claim.

Debt collection Court process

If your demands for payment during the pre-litigation process went unanswered, the next stage in the debt collection legal process is to issue a County Court Claim. A Judgment is an official document setting out how much a claimant believes they are owed. The debtor then has a choice to either admit the claim by filling out an admission form or defend the claim. If the County Court Claim is ignored, then the Court could issue a Judgment by default.

Issuing County Court proceedings

If you need to issue a County Court Claim, we can do so on your behalf. If you do have to go to Court, you will be able to claim for the following:

  • Invoice amount
  • Interest and any compensation due
  • Court fees
  • Solicitor's costs (Please note these are fixed by statute and there is a limit on the amount that we can claim for, but it will go some way to covering our costs.)

If the Debtor disputes the claim, this will fall outside of our fixed fees and you will be referred to our Dispute Resolution department.

Enforcement of County Court Judgments

Once you have been awarded a successful Judgment, you then have a number of enforcement options you can choose from to recover your debt. The Forbes Collect team will be on hand to advise you of the best way to enforce your Judgment, options could include the seizure of goods to sell at auction or insolvency. Using a solicitor led recovery service has many benefits:

  • From the start, you will have legal expertise and experience behind you;
  • Straightforward practical advice, tailored to your business;
  • We work on a no win, no fee basis. So, if we don't recover your debt you won't have to pay us a penny;
  • Alternative ways of enforcing a CCJ;
  • The use of a cutting-edge, secure, cloud-based technology.

Debt collection process for small businesses

The debt collection process for a small business is just the same as larger business. Small businesses are entitled to add interest and compensation fees (where applicable) onto late invoices and the process will follow the same as above. Small businesses can benefit hugely from instructing a debt recovery solicitor, improving cash flow and the presence of unwanted debts. Chasing late payments is time consuming, stressful and takes you away from running your business. Also, many small businesses don't always have the resources to keep on top of those who pay late, or they may be worried how their customers will react if they are too persistent in chasing payments. Therefore, handing over responsibility to a debt solicitor can take away the personal element from chasing debt yourself and may result in more prompt payments in future.

Bad debt collection process

Bad debt is defined as accounts receivable that are unlikely to be paid, and as thus is treated as a loss and may be written off. However, it may be possible to recover bad debt in some cases. At Forbes Collect, our expert solicitor led service can help you recover bad debt or help you to receive payment before the outstanding sum turns into bad debt.

A late invoice will turn into an aged debt and could potentially become a bad debt as time goes by. If a debt has to eventually be written off, it could hurt your balance sheet and create cash flow problems for some businesses.

Using a solicitor led debt recovery service can help to speed up the process of payment. This is because the vast majority of businesses do not want to get into legal trouble as it can be costly and damage their reputation. This is why the vast majority of our 'bad' debt recovery happens during the pre-litigation stage.

Before we send out any correspondence to the debtor, we will undertake a Companies House search or an insolvency check on the debtor. If they are an individual or sole trader, we have a number of tools to trace an individual in the hope of gaining an up to date address. As part of our service, we will add statutory interest and compensation, where applicable.

The best way of dealing with the bad debt is by having steps in place to avoid it whenever possible. Having clear and enforceable payment terms can help to reduce future potential bad debt. If you are worried about damaging your relationship with your customers, you can always state that it is a condition of your insurance that you have to chase late payment promptly or escalate to solicitors where necessary.

How long is the debt review process?

How long the debt review process will take depends on how quickly the debtor pays their debt and what steps need to be taken in order for this to happen. During the pre-litigation stage, an individual/sole trader is given 30 days (minimum) to respond to our Letter Before Action, this is due to a new Pre-Action Protocol for Debt Recovery Claims introduced in October 2017, whereas we allow companies 14 days to respond as they do not fall under the protocol.

If a County Court Claim needs to be filed this may take a few weeks and it may take even longer if they the debtor disputes the claim. Should you be successful in obtaining a Judgment and payment is still not forthcoming, you may have to start enforcement proceedings which, again, may take some time.

At Forbes Collect, our debt recovery solicitors have a high recovery rate obtaining monies owed to you during the pre-litigation stage and a small portion require us to issue Country Court claims and deal with enforcement proceedings.

If you think you will benefit from getting a debt collection lawyer on your side, then contact the Forbes Collect team today on 0800 689 4176.

Contact Us

Get in touch to see how our experts could help you.

Call0800 689 4176

CallRequest a call back

EmailSend us an email

Contacting Us

Monday to Friday:
09:00 to 17:00

Saturday and Sunday:

Our dedicated Forbes Collect team

Sadie Butler

Sadie Butler

Head of Forbes Collect

Forbes Collect

PinCentral Lancashire

Call0333 207 9388

Contact Us

If you have a general enquiry then please fill in your details and someone will contact you.

Call0800 689 4176

CallRequest a call back

EmailSend us an email

Contacting Us

Monday to Friday: 09:00 to 17:00
Saturday and Sunday: Closed