Can’t pay or won’t pay? How to deal with debtors

24th July 2019

In the world of debt collection there are almost as many categories of debtor as there are methods for collecting debts. However, despite the many reasons for failing to pay, most debtors fall into two camps – those that can’t pay and those who won’t.

Where a debtor fails to pay a debt but offers no valid reason for this, it is usually because they have buried their head in the sand in the hope that the issue will go away, or because they are trying to extract the largest amount of credit possible. The latter even proves true where the debtor is aware that interest and court costs will accrue on the debt.

In either of these circumstances, the key to recovering the debt is to act fast and to try to find the best method of communicating with the debtor. It is much easier to discover the reason for the debtor’s failure to pay the debt if you are able to speak to them. However, where this proves impossible, and the debtor continues to ignore contact attempts, the court process should be advanced as far as possible in the background, so the creditor can aim to be at the front of the queue for payment when the opportunity comes around.

My advice in these circumstances, irrespective of the reason for the debtor’s failure to pay the debt and subject to the progression of court proceedings being commercially sound, is to advance a claim as swiftly as possible through the court process. This is because, in my experience, where the debtor is simply trying to extract credit from a client, payment will be received either shortly before or after a county court judgment is obtained.

The debt recovery team at Harrison Clark Rickerbys has a wealth of experience in communicating with debtors throughout the debt collection process and identifying the best collection strategy for each particular debt. We consider each case on its merits.

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