Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.
How long have you been contracting for them?
Also, had you stipulated any payment terms of your own when you invoiced them?
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Thanks for your patience. Even though you had not signed the contract it could still be binding and enforceable if you had implied your acceptance to it – this could happen if you had started to work under the rest of the terms and accepting payment under it. Saying that, it does not automatically mean that such a clause in it would be enforceable, especially if it is considered to be a penalty clause. Penalty clauses are unlawful in UK law so if they are trying to penalise you for leaving early by withholding a month’s pay even if you had done work for them for that time, that could be unlawful and unenforceable. If they were trying to withhold the money to cover for any losses incurred as a result of you leaving early, like training costs, loss of business, to pay for recruitment fees, etc then these can be justified but withholding the pay for no apparent reason can be unenforceable. In these circumstances you can still leave and consider taking the matter further as far as the small claims court to get what you are due.
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they need to be able to justify that they have spent time and costs training you to be able to claim that money back. Also there should be a clear repayment clause, or a specific contractual right allowing them to do so.
If they withhold payment and you need to take this further, whenever a dispute arises over money owed by one party to another, the debtor can be pursued through the civil courts for recovery of the debt. As legal action should always be seen as a last resort, there are certain actions that should be taken initially to try and resolve this matter informally and without having to involve the courts. It is recommended that the process follows these steps:
1. Reminder letter – if no reminders have been sent yet, one should be sent first to allow the debtor to voluntarily pay what is due.
2. Letter before action – if informal reminders have been sent but these have been ignored, the debtor must be sent a formal letter asking them to repay the debt, or at least make arrangements for its repayment, within a specified period of time. A reasonable period to demand a response by would be 10 days. They should be advised that if they fail to do contact you in order to resolve this matter, formal legal proceedings will be commenced to recover the debt. This letter serves as a ‘final warning’ and gives the other side the opportunity to resolve this matter without the need for legal action.
3. Before you consider starting legal action you may wish to consider sending a formal statutory demand. This is a legal request which asks the debtor to pay the outstanding debt within 21 days and failure to do so will allow you to bankrupt the debtor (if they are an individual ) or wind up the company (if they are a business). For the relevant forms to serve a statutory demand see here: https://www.gov.uk/statutory-demands/forms-to-issue-a-statutory-demand
4. If you wish to go down the legal route instead of a statutory demand, a claim can be commenced online by going to www.moneyclaim.gov.uk. Once the claim form is completed it will be sent to the debtor and they will have a limited time to defend it. If they are aware legal proceedings have commenced it could also prompt them to reconsider their position and perhaps force them to contact you to try and resolve this.
Whatever correspondence is sent, it is always advisable to keep copies and use recorded delivery so that there is proof of delivery and a paper trail. The court may need to refer to these if it gets that far.
many thanks and all the best