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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 74321
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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An interior designer I was using took the money to buy

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An interior designer I was using took the money to buy fixtures and fittings for the project, then ran off with the money. Despite agreeing she had to return the money, over a year has passed and she has not done this. I'd like to pursue the debt, getting a CCJ against her if necessary. She owes us around £30,000.
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: England
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: Sent a legal letter. She's acknowledged the debt. She's not paid.
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: NO

Hello, I’m Ben, a UK lawyer and will be dealing with your case today. I may also need to ask some questions to determine the legal position.

Is she still working as an interior designer? Do you have a contact address for her?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I believe she is. She moved house subsequent to the failed project
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I don't know if she is or not, but she's moved since the failed project. The project was in her personal name, not a company name, and so their is no veil of incorporation

Thank you. Leave it with me for now, although please note it is extremely busy at present due to the ongoing situation so there may be a delay in replying, but I will get back to you at some point today. Please do not reply in the meantime. Many thanks

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Last known contact details for her: Folayera Akinlade, Misa Design & Interiors, Hewetts Quay, 26-32 Abbey Road, London, IG11 7BU.

Many thanks for your patience. If a party wishes to pursue another for a debt arising out of a dispute between them, they can do so by making a claim in the civil courts. As legal action should ideally be used as a last resort, there are certain steps that should be taken initially to try and resolve this matter informally and without having to involve lawyers or the courts. These can be summarised below and it is recommended the following procedure is followed to try and progress this matter further:

1. Reminder letter – if no informal reminders have been sent yet, one should be sent first to allow the other party to voluntarily settle this matter.

2. Letter before action – if informal reminders have been sent but have been ignored, the other party must be sent a formal ‘letter before action’ asking them to resolve this amicably within a specified period of time, usually 7 to 14 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 pursue them for the debt in question. 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. 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 a copy will be sent to the other side and they will have a limited time to defend it. Once they are aware that legal proceedings have commenced it may also force them to reconsider their position and perhaps prompt them to contact you to try and resolve this.

4. As an alternative to legal action a debtor can be issued with 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 would allow the creditor 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

As a final tip, it is always advisable to keep copies of any correspondence sent and received as the courts would like to refer to it if it ever gets that far.

Does this answer your query?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks - helpful. What are the advantages / disadvantages of going down the legal action route vs a formal statutory demand?

With the SD you can directly petition for insolvency if the SD is ignored, whereas with a claim you have to go through with it, win it and get a judgment and then they ignore it before you can do the same.

Does this clarify things a bit more for you?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
that's helping. I think it's unlikely she'll have the money to pay in the short term but she's young and has the rest of her life to pay the money back. What's the better option for ensuring it messes up her credit record until the debt is repaid?

The SD more likely. For example, failure to deal with a statutory demand by a company can then lead to a winding up petition being issued against it. That can seriously affect a company’s credit rating, the bank account can be frozen, suppliers will stop supplying goods or services if it becomes public knowledge and ultimately, if the debt is not paid the company is wound up and put into insolvency.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
This is a sole trader (not a limited company) so there is no veil of incorporation. I also don't think she cares much about the reputation. Does that change things?

Only that she would be personally made bankrupt in the circumstances.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
if I get an SD then perhaps she pays, or not. If she doesn’t I can apply to make her bankrupt at which time she leaves all her debts behind in exchange for a ruined credit file. So I get a no cash but I get a Pyrrhic victory of sorts and at lease a sense she has had some punishment?

Potentially but also you may get something out of the bankruptcy – you are after all a creditor and depending on what money and assets she has and what other creditors there may be above you, there could still be something in it for you.

Does this clarify things a bit more for you?

Hello, I see you have read my response to your query. Could you please let me know if it has answered your original question? You can simply reply on here with a quick ‘Yes, thanks’ and I won’t bother you again. Thank you

Hello, not sure if you are having trouble seeing my posts? I have not heard back from you since posting my answer and just need to know if your query has been resolved. If you could please post a quick reply to confirm I would be very grateful. Thank you

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
resolved - thanks

All the best

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