In today’s business climate nothing is for certain, things can change overnight and this uncertainty stretches to the credit control industry too. As an SME, debt recovery can be difficult even in the best economic times, so when people begin to struggle it can become near-on impossible to collect an overdue invoice, sometimes the only option is to apply for a CCJ against the client.

What is a CCJ?

A CCJ stands for County Court Judgement. If you have tried everything with a client and they still don’t make a payment then you can apply to your county court to get a judgement against the client to claim the money, however it is the court that decides if there is any money owed. If they decide there is a debt to be paid, it is only then that they will issue a CCJ.

It is important to be aware that the process of issuing a CCJ is usually an expensive one and can mean the end of the relationship with your client; a CCJ should always be considered a last resort. So how do you know when to stop chasing a client and take things down a legal route?

Open communication

As we say, legal action should be a last resort, not the first option you jump to as soon as a payment is late. Every business goes through difficult times and so you shouldn’t jump straight on the attack before you have even spoken with a client.

As soon as you have sent over the invoice, follow up with a friendly phone call to ensure that the invoice has been received and to answer any questions that the client may have; this is not only good customer care but it also means that the client cannot claim that they never received the invoice. Once an invoice becomes overdue then contact the client to see if there are any problems, by allowing the client the benefit of the doubt they are more likely to make a payment.

An agency can help

If communication breaks down then your chances of receiving a payment are significantly reduced. The next step would be to consider a third party. A collection agency like Commercial Domestic Investigations will continuously chase a client until a payment has been made or the client legally agrees to repay the debt in instalments. A good agency is also aware of collection regulations and operates within industry best practice. Using the services of a collection agency may be both quicker and less expensive than taking the client to court. Some agencies will assist you with legal action if the client is refusing to acknowledge any of the debt.

If you decide to take legal action yourself, the CCJ process begins with an online application where you present all of the client’s details along with the details of the overdue account, the court will follow up with the client, listen to “their side” and then make a decision, there is no guarantee that they will decide that the client owes your money and you could came away with nothing. That is why to always try to resolve the problem with the client where possible, can you put them on stop until they make a payment or offer a discount if they pay their debt off? If you are unable to resolve the problem then using the services of a third party may be enough to push them to make a payment.

A credit report gives you a payment history of the client and can give you enough information to decide whether to ask for a deposit, payment upfront or to even begin a relationship with an unreliable payer. At Commercial Domestic Investigations, we understand how important your clients are to you, which is why when we deal with your clients we act with the highest level of professionalism and operate in line with current debt collection regulations. If you want to find out how we can help you, contact our team on 08444 159200 or email sales@commercialdomesticinvestigations.co.uk.