Hi there, in black and white it may indeed be arguable that all the payment of the bonus requires is completion of the project, whether successful or not. But law is not always that simple – there are express terms, such as those written and identifiable, and there are implied terms, those that are not specifically recorded but which can be implemented based on the specific circumstances or the parties’ intentions. It is not just as easy as one party saying ‘this is what I intended so this is what the terms will be’ – it takes a lot more than that for something to be implemented, especially if it potentially goes against the express terms. But I was just advising you of the potential situation and what you need to be aware of in these circumstances, there is every chance that a court can decide in your favour. So my initial response was not a case of telling you that is what will happen, but just advising you of the, hopefully remote, possibility that it may be challenged in that way. I would agree with your position and that your argument is stronger but i am not a judge and not the one who makes the final decision, should this be challenged.
If you wanted to take it further due to the employer not willing to honour the bonus clause, then 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 they fail to pay or at least make contact to try and resolve this, formal legal proceedings can be initiated. 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.