Twice I’ve been owed a few thousand pounds by a client. Both were seriously dragging their heels about paying me and I realised that the only way I was going to see my money was if I took them to court. In both cases, as soon as they saw the official letter, they paid me straightaway so it never got to court. Of course, that was the last I heard of either company but, to be honest, I wouldn’t have wanted to work for them again anyhow.
So what’s the procedure if you are owed money by a client and you really don’t believe you can recover the sum in any other way?
Please note the following information applies to England and Wales only.
There are three routes:
Small claims track – for claims with a value of up to £5,000.
Fast track – for claims between £5,000 and £25,000.
Multi-track – for claims of £25,000 or more.
The small claims track is the route that’s probably most used by freelancers. And, for this, you don’t need the services of a solicitor. You can start your claims process online at www.moneyclaim.gov.uk. First, check that you meet the Money Claim Online criteria, which are:
- You are claiming a fixed amount of money that’s under £100,000 (including court fees and solicitor’s costs)
- Your claim is against either one or two people – not more
- The person(s) you are claiming against has an address within England and Wales
- You have a valid credit or debit card
When I did an online claim, I had to state the amount I was claiming and include details of what the claim was about. I also had to include the full name and address of the person I was claiming against and add my credit card details. That was pretty much it. You can then track the progress of your claim online. I had to pay a fee – and the amount you pay depends on the amount you are claiming. But I got my fee back in both cases, as the client was made to pay that to me on top of the money I was owed. Here is the fee table.
Do think twice before taking court action – consider it as a last resort when you’ve tried all other avenues to recover your money.
You can find out more about the claims process from the HMCS website.
Disclaimer: Although I have made every effort to ensure this information is accurate, I am not a solicitor and you should take appropriate advice before taking a client to court.