Invoices unpaid - What legal route?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by B52, Jan 31, 2019.

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  1. B52

    B52 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    HI everyone, We did some roofing work on a block of flats some months ago - no complaints, residents happy, submitted 2 separate invoices, both for £2,130. Bulk of each invoice was made up of scaffolders' fees & wages we'd already paid. No huge profit to speak of. One of these is now 80 days overdue, the other not much less. Work was instructed by Managing Agents, a Ltd company.

    Our predicament led me to do a bit of digging on the M.agents. Operate from serviced offices. Companies House revealed that their accounts were due in November but have not been submitted. Have never spoken to/heard from 'Lead' Director. Our contact was his wife who is no longer a Director with the main holding company; although looking at the many companies they are affiliated with, it does seem they routinely swap Directorship roles (including with another woman who we've only ever known as an employee & who has been our contact since the wife 'left' ). It does seem too that many of these many companies - in the names of the block they manage (& the holding company itself), have little or no money. This is the case for the company specifically set up in the name of the block we've worked on.

    When debt initially became overdue & we started to chase, we were told it was an insurance issue, hence delay. Since then have chased & chased - emails, left phone messages (no response ) & on rare occasions when called & was able to speak to someone 'managerial' (never Director), always assured next week, they had no money to pay, small company etc.

    Wrote more formally a couple of weeks ago, advising that it was severely affecting our cash flow (we said surely their O/D should fund debt? - at times we 'd been forced to use ours) & warned that we would have to charge an extra £70 per invoice & statutory interest if situation continued. No response in writing. Further verbal promises of payment that never come to anything.

    I need advice on what to do next.

    Had thought I'd go the Money Claim online route, but was a bit thrown when I read online that there has been some change in 2017 re. Pre-Action Protocols with respect to business to business claims??? I came across this when I was reminding myself of the protocol for writing a Letter of Intended Action, because my earlier letter to them did not warn of taking legal action, & only talked of the £70 late payment charge + interest we could justify adding to each invoice. In that letter I said I expected to see payment within 7 days or these charges would be added - I've yet to send them amended invoices though, in the hope that the threat was sufficient to prompt payment.

    I've assumed that this letter was insufficient to be considered the proper notice of our intention to pursue them down the MCOL route? Can I/ should I now send a Letter before Claim? And given the query above, can I use MCOL in this business to business scenario?

    I appreciate too that another option is the statutory demand letter route, but I've baulked at that potentially meaning we might have to wait close to 21 days for payment before we can take the next step if they still don't pay.

    Any advice would be very gratefully received.

    T.
     
    Posted: Jan 31, 2019 By: B52 Member since: Sep 2, 2014
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  2. Newchodge

    Newchodge UKBF Big Shot Free Member

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    To take legal action in the small claims court you have to follow the business to business protocol. Write the letter today. Sue them next month.
     
    Posted: Jan 31, 2019 By: Newchodge Member since: Nov 8, 2012
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  3. Blaby Loyal

    Blaby Loyal UKBF Ace Free Member

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    Letter Before Action it is then.

    Make sure you know who you were contracting with so you get it all in "apple pie order" from the outset.
     
    Posted: Jan 31, 2019 By: Blaby Loyal Member since: Jun 12, 2018
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  4. B52

    B52 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Sorry, really confused!
    This is from justice.gov.uk (can't post full link)

    PRE-ACTION PROTOCOL FOR DEBT CLAIMS
    1 INTRODUCTION 1.1 This Protocol applies to any business (including sole traders and public bodies) claiming payment of a debt from an individual (including a sole trader). The business will be referred to as the “creditor” and the individual will be referred to as the “debtor”. This Protocol does not apply to business-to business debts unless the debtor is a sole trader.


    Am I being really thick? Our debtor is a Ltd Company. I've read this to be that something else needs to be done in our situation.
    T.
     
    Posted: Jan 31, 2019 By: B52 Member since: Sep 2, 2014
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  5. B52

    B52 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Yes, that was going to be my next question. Which company? All things lead to the holding company but there is obviously the one for the individual block too. And then there is the Director for whom we only have the Serviced Office address.
    Would you say Director & overall Holding Co as my 2 defendants for MCOL
     
    Posted: Jan 31, 2019 By: B52 Member since: Sep 2, 2014
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  6. Blaby Loyal

    Blaby Loyal UKBF Ace Free Member

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    Who did you provide the quote for the work to? Who accepted the quote and ordered the job from you? Who did you invoice?

    If you were on the ball, they should all be the same entity.

    You still need to issue a Letter Before Action. It is not part of the defined Pre-Action Protocol for Debt Claims but part of the overriding Civil Procedure Rules. You must demonstrate that you have made all reasonable efforts to settle the matter with the opponent before going to Court.
     
    Posted: Jan 31, 2019 By: Blaby Loyal Member since: Jun 12, 2018
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  7. Lovetts Solicitors

    Lovetts Solicitors UKBF Regular Free Member

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    The Pre-Action Protocol for Debt Claims only applies to B2C debts (a word of warning - consumer in this case does include sole traders). However all cases that don't have a specific protocol are covered by the general Practice Direction which you can find at https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/rules/pd_pre-action_conduct .

    This is assuming that you wouldn't fall under the Construction Protocol (there are special rules for construction or engineering related disputes).

    As Blaby has said above a key thing is who you contracted with, as you do need to make sure you are going after the correct party. Once you've clarified that then best to start with a Letter Before Action to be 100% sure you've complied with the Protocol and given them a final chance to pay.
     
    Posted: Jan 31, 2019 By: Lovetts Solicitors Member since: Oct 14, 2015
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  8. billybob99

    billybob99 UKBF Regular Free Member

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    Tell them you are going to take your roof back, all the materials etc.

    Give them a date - turn up, get on that roof and get to work.
     
    Posted: Jan 31, 2019 By: billybob99 Member since: Apr 23, 2013
    #8
  9. Higgsy

    Higgsy UKBF Regular Free Member

    100 18
    I hear diggers are handy...

    Jokes aside.. Some good advice above, you can always instruct someone to chase funds for you.
     
    Posted: Jan 31, 2019 By: Higgsy Member since: Oct 1, 2018
    #9
  10. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

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    Can that work with a management company?
     
    Posted: Jan 31, 2019 By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
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  11. billybob99

    billybob99 UKBF Regular Free Member

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    The threat of carrying out the action - possibly.

    Actually going ahead - I'm not sure, but would assume if they instructed the new roofs then yes it could.

    If they haven't filed their accounts etc. it could be a sign that they can't be arsed taking things seriously.

    I would be thinking more about the residents who've got nothing to do with this mess, being inconvenienced in this weather.
     
    Posted: Jan 31, 2019 By: billybob99 Member since: Apr 23, 2013
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  12. Mark T Jones

    Mark T Jones UKBF Big Shot Free Member

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    Please don't do that - it would be your most stupid & (self) destructive course of action
     
    Posted: Feb 1, 2019 By: Mark T Jones Member since: Nov 4, 2015
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  13. billybob99

    billybob99 UKBF Regular Free Member

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    Can't see you giving any better advice tho.

    That's the problem with this country, too soft.
     
    Posted: Feb 1, 2019 By: billybob99 Member since: Apr 23, 2013
    #13
  14. Mark T Jones

    Mark T Jones UKBF Big Shot Free Member

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    They’ve had good advice. Hopefully they will take it
     
    Posted: Feb 1, 2019 By: Mark T Jones Member since: Nov 4, 2015
    #14
  15. billybob99

    billybob99 UKBF Regular Free Member

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    I wouldn't say it was good advice, legal advice yes.
     
    Posted: Feb 1, 2019 By: billybob99 Member since: Apr 23, 2013
    #15
  16. Blaby Loyal

    Blaby Loyal UKBF Ace Free Member

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    20 or so years ago you could have got away with turning up and taking the roof off. If that happened these days you'd probably end up with a custodial sentence for criminal damage and then a massive claim for nonsense like consequential loss. Attitudes have changed: those in the wrong now tend to win.
     
    Posted: Feb 1, 2019 By: Blaby Loyal Member since: Jun 12, 2018
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  17. billybob99

    billybob99 UKBF Regular Free Member

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    I agree. It's just that 80+ days without payment is taking the p*** surely, then you go thru this long winded process, and chances are the OP isn't going to get a penny.
     
    Posted: Feb 1, 2019 By: billybob99 Member since: Apr 23, 2013
    #17
  18. B52

    B52 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Hi again everyone,

    Thanks for all advice - very gratefully received.
    To update you - I wrote a Letter Before Action, making sure it was directed to the overall Director of all of the various entities & the CEO who directed the work.

    They made a payment of £2130 shortly after. They did not pay the £70 Late payment fee or the interest that had accrued for late payment. The other invoice remains outstanding, including the additional fees as above.

    Friday 15th was day 14 & we're obviously still owed a substantial amount. Given they will have received my L b4 C via email late on the 1st I felt it wise to allow them a few extra days to compensate for that weekend, as the posted letter would not have been received until the Monday.

    Other than the payment we have had no response to the letter.

    I'm therefore at the MCOL stage. Reading through some of the responses to my original post I now want to make sure that everything doesn't get thrown out because I've named the wrong party/parties as the defendant(s).

    The company that employed us (I'll use a pseudonym here) is called 'Bloody' Group Holdings. That's who they are on their website, albeit listed under this name on their pages are the sub companies 'Bloody' Property Management Ltd., Bloody Companies secretaries Ltd., 'Bloody' Residential Lettings etc.

    We've always invoiced 'Bloody' Group Holdings Ltd & until these last two invoices, invoices addressed in this way have always been paid. The delivery address has always been in the name 'Kitch' House, as this is the only building they manage that we've been called to do work on.

    The most recent work we've done has been directed by a lady called 'Jane Doe'. On her emails she is described as the CEO of 'Bloody' Property Management Ltd. Invoices are directed to her (at)bloody.co.uk.

    When when we've previously received payment for invoices they show up on our bank account statement as 'Kitch' House. We never receive remittance advice.

    Companies House shows the Director of all of the entities concerned i.e. 'Bloody Holdings ltd., 'Bloody' Property Management Ltd. (Accounts overdue) etc. but there is also a 'Kitch' House Management Co. Ltd.

    'Bloody' Property Management Ltd. & 'Bloody' Companies Secretaries Ltd. are shown as officers for 'Kitch' House Management Co. Ltd. The other active officer for 'Kitch' House is someone I'll call Mr. Dastardly. He is the Director of all the 'Bloody' entities, although we have never had an communication or involvement with him.

    All of these entities share the same postal address - which looks to be a serviced office. I am assuming that the same address for each entity helps us.

    My question is who are my Defendants?

    Do I choose the CEO - she directed all recent work, receives the invoices & she presumably authorises payment. She is pretty much our only point of contact. She is the person who told us they could not pay us as they were waiting on insurers.

    Or do I choose the overall Director of all of the various entities? We've never dealt with him, only with a woman with the same surname in the past, who has since resigned according to Companies House. As the Director he is presumably ultimately responsible? I figured if I named him rather than the CEO then I was covering all bases?

    I think I'm right in saying I can name up to two defendants so which company do I name? I presumed it would be 'Bloody' Property Management Ltd. but there being a company in the name of the building that we did work on ('Kitch' House) - this threw me a bit, given this name appears on our bank statement when we are paid.

    In anticipation of more good advice......many thanks.
     
    Posted: Feb 18, 2019 By: B52 Member since: Sep 2, 2014
    #18
  19. Blaby Loyal

    Blaby Loyal UKBF Ace Free Member

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    It would not be an individual so you will need to list the company you were contracting with.
     
    Posted: Feb 18, 2019 By: Blaby Loyal Member since: Jun 12, 2018
    #19
  20. B52

    B52 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    That's just it - who are we contracted by?
    We invoice 'B' Group Holdings
    We are directed by & communicate with the CEO of 'B' Property Management Co. Ltd.
    And is it in any way relevant that when payment is made it appears to come from 'K' House Management Company Ltd?
     
    Posted: Feb 18, 2019 By: B52 Member since: Sep 2, 2014
    #20
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