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tdlawyer, Lawyer
Category: Bankruptcy Law
Satisfied Customers: 1096
Experience:  Lawyer with 11 years experience in bankruptcy related issues.
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Debt collectors are chasing me for a debt that is owed to a

Customer Question

Debt collectors are chasing me for a debt that is owed to a courier company.

The debt is for just over £1500 and is for VAT that the courier paid to clear shipments sent to me from China. The shipments were sent over the course of a year - maybe a total of 7 or 8. At the time of accepting the parcels i was not aware there were any payments to be made as normally when there was a payment to be made it was requested up front by the courier, either by them phoning me and me paying over the phone or at the door when delivered.

The shipments were in my name but i was acting on behalf of director of my LTD. company which is only just surviving, the company does not have £1500 to pay the courier and i personally do not have the money. The company could probably afford £300 but that would leave no money left in the bank and only a few hundred pounds worth of stock remaining with a few other creditors left to pay.

Is the debt legally enforceable? I have no contract or account with the courier in question. I did not request them to pay the VAT on my behalf and i was not made aware there would be a future bill for shipments delivered without payment being taken first and most of the 7 or 8 shipments were not signed by me but by a tenant living at the same address.

The courier has now sold the debt to a third party debt collector who have sent me a couple of letters threatening court action.

Is there anything i can do?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Bankruptcy Law
Expert:  tdlawyer replied 4 years ago.
Hello, thank you for your question. My name is Tony and I can assist you with your question.
Expert:  tdlawyer replied 4 years ago.
Do you have a written contract with he courier company and in whose name is it?

Did the courier know this was done on behalf of the company and not you the individual?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I have no written contract with the company at all. When shipments ere delivered they require a signature to confirm you have received the shipment (like all tracked delivery).


I am not totally sure on question 2, i would say probably not, although i have received shipments with the company name on in the past but can't be sure whether any of the 7 or 8 shipments that were not paid.

Expert:  tdlawyer replied 4 years ago.
The identity of the contracting party is important. If it was you that placed the order without mention of the company then you're likely to be liable.

In the shipping terms and conditions which you usually enter into online or when you sign the consignment note, they will include an indemnity for you to pay any import duty. Can you check these just to make 100% sure?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I would have made all the orders in my company name, but the sender (my goods supplier) has not included that in the shipping address on the shipments.


I received no consignment note with the shipments, the only thing i was ever asked to sign was on an electronic machine, no shipping paperwork was ever signed and nothing given to me after signing the electronic machine other than the shipment. I have no contract with the courier and most of the 7 or 8 shipments i received were not signed by me but by a tenant of the property where delivery was made (i was not present).

Expert:  tdlawyer replied 4 years ago.

If you didn't agree to pay the charges, then you cannot be forced to pay them to the courier.

Normally, you would expect HMRC to impound the goods until any duty due on them had been paid. Then once paid, they would be released. You can get detailed information on that procedure here:

I do wonder whether the courier feels that have an account with you and thus they have an indemnity for any charges paid out. This is likely given you mentioned what had happened before with them. Ultimately, though if you didn't agree to the charges being paid, they can't pursue you for them.


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I don't believe I agreed for the courier to pay the charges on my behalf. In fact I believed there were no charges on the goods when they were delivered as 9 times out of 10 they requested payment before delivery.


What should be my next step? So far I have not replied to the debt collection agency at all. Should I ask for a copy of the contract I have with the courier? Should I offer them a settlement figure based on the fact I believe I have no contract with the courier or would this offer mean I recognise the debt is mine?

Expert:  tdlawyer replied 4 years ago.
You should write to them and ask them to confirm the basis upon which they say you're liable. Simply demanding the money isn't good enough - they'll have to convince a court in due course, so they can start by convincing you!

And yes, always ask for a copy of any contract they believe exists.

You could offer to settle, that's up to you, it's usually best to try and do a deal if you can. Not many people enjoy going to court, so if it can be avoided, it's best to avoid it!