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Small claim against a UK bad payer. Is it worthwhile?
Thread poster: Ezequiel Fernandez

Ezequiel Fernandez
Local time: 04:56
English to Spanish
+ ...
Aug 28, 2008

Dear colleagues,

In view of some WTA entries made recently in the Blue Board about a London-based company (I would name it if allowed by the moderator), it seems some translators - including myself - are facing with a lot of hassle in trying to get paid for their work, at best.

I'm afraid this company no longer shows signs to pay their debts in good faith, given their failure to reply to emails claiming payment. The Managing Director is permanently "out of office" and the PM's have all left the company (possibly being fired), based on the comments of some colleagues and the information I was provided when I phoned them yesterday. The PM's and the accounts personnel used to be friendly and responsive - not anymore. I wouldn't be surprised if this company had gone into liquidation - this is just a guess.

I understand there is something called small claims on-line available through Her Majesty Courts' Service which can be used to claim money owed by British companies. However, after some research in the HMCS's website regarding the Small Claim procedure, if a UK company has gone bankrupt, there is little chances of getting paid. This is bad news for us as creditors. Now, I wonder if paying the GBP 25 fee to use this service is worth the effort.

Any suggestions/comments/ideas are welcome.

Have a nice day,

Ezequiel F. Larrú


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Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:56
Member
French to English
+ ...
Companies House Aug 28, 2008

Have you looked up the company on the Companies House website? You can use their online WebCheck service to find out whether it has been wound up. For a small fee you can look at the latest accounts and any other documents filed by the company with the Registrar of Companies. Those may give you an idea of the company's financial health and help you decide whether it would be worth pursuing a claim.

I'm not actually sure whether it's possible to file small claims from abroad - it may well be for all I know, but it might be worth checking that out too if you haven't already.

[Edited at 2008-08-28 15:25]


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Dr. Andrew Frankland  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:56
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Go for it Aug 28, 2008

Dear Ezequiel,

I was in a similar situation not so long ago, also with a London-based agency (contact me privately with the name if you want), and spent a lot of time researching all the options available. I suggest you first of all do a check with Companies House. As Peter said, the fee is only 1 GBP and you get the info immediately. If the company has not filed for bankruptcy then you should threaten them with small claims proceedings. The only slight problem, though, is that you need a UK address for documents to be delivered. You will have to pay the fees up front but they will be added to the debt should you win. You can also claim statutory interest at a rate of 13.5% from the date the money became due. In my case the threat of going to the small claims court was enough and the company in question paid up fairly quickly.

Anyway, as I said, if you want to contact me privately I may be able to help you out if we're talking about the same company. If not, I can still send you the text of the emails I sent, which seemed to have the desired effect.

Good luck,

Andy


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xxxJPW  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
Consider also - Aug 28, 2008

If the person or company is bankrupt, you will probably not get your money. You can also contact the Insolvency Service in London. You need to tell them the full name of the person or company and their last address. They will tell you if the person is bankrupt, or if the company is in ‘compulsory liquidation’, which means that the company has stopped trading and probably has neither money nor other assets.

If the person you are claiming from has already been taken to court by others, and has not paid, you may also have little chance of getting your money. You can find out if a person, firm or company at a particular address has any unpaid court orders (called ‘judgments’ or 'CCJs'), by visiting www.registry-trust.org.uk. You will have to pay a fee to search for each name you are interested in.

In any case, issuing a claim should always be as a last resort, and it would be a good idea (I don't know if you have already done this) to send them reminders of your invoices and perhaps an appropriately worded letter stating your intentions to pursue the matter. These can always be produced later if you issue a claim, to show what you did (or tried to do) to recover your debt.

As Andrew pointed out, sometimes the threat of a claim is enough to get them to cough up. Otherwise you might be in it for the long haul.


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Debora Villa
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:56
English to Italian
+ ...
I think it's worth it Aug 28, 2008

Hi there

I found myself in the same position with a London based agency last year (maybe it's the same?) and after months of frustration and no replies to my calls and emails I did resort to the small court claim.

The client paid immediatly after receiving the letter, court expenses and interests included (these are calculated online when you complete the claim form). Perhaps I was lucky but it worked. Luckily I have not found myself in the same position since but if it were to happen again I wouldn't hesitate to do it again. That is, obviously, after trying all other possible "friendly" routes.

Best of luck!

Debora


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Ezequiel Fernandez
Local time: 04:56
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I'll go for it Aug 29, 2008

Thank you all for your testimonies and/or suggestions.

After checking in the Companies House website, this bad-payer is neither in liquidation nor among the dissolved companies, which is good news.

Unfortunately, the threat of going to the small claims court is of no avail, so it seems I will need to actually use the service. Yes, this is the last resort, but let the company get away with it should never happen.

I'll keep you updated of the outsome of this move.

Have a nice day,

Ezequiel F. Larrú


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Federica Masante  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:56
Member (2003)
Italian to English
+ ...
Same problem with a Malta based freelancer Aug 29, 2008

Dear all,

I am also experiencing non-payment issues, but in my case it is not a company but a freelancer like myself (he's even registered here on Proz). Of course he has been ignoring all my reminders and now he has even stopped answering my emails.
I was wondering if anyone could recommend a good debt collection agency in Malta to help me resolve this matter. I am not being owed a huge amount luckily but it's the principle of it. I certainly wouldn't like to see this individual get away with it.
I have already posted a negative entry about this person on the BB and contacted a moderator but unfortunately I was told that moderators cannot start an investigation until 2 negative entries have been submitted about the same person/agency.

Thanks in advance for any advice you may be able to give me.

Best,

Federica


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:56
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Small claims in the UK Aug 30, 2008

Yes, there is a legal process you can go through in the UK. It's called the Small Claims Court. You don't need a lawyer but there is (of course) a lot of paperwork involved. The process (of course) can take months. The bad news is that in the end, even if the judgment is awarded in your favour, most of the time the other side doesn't pay anyway.

I happen to know this because I looked into it a while ago when I was thinking of pursuing someone for a (relatively) small amount of money.

Better and more effective, in my view, is to use the BlueBoard to flag up bad behaviour. You don't need to be offensive, simply post that you've had problems with X and offer to provide further info by email, if requested. That way, a private discussion may ensue between yourself and a large number of other translators. When the offending outsourcer gets to know about this, I'm sure they'll become concerned about their reputation and will take remedial action.

""Poor people have access to the courts in the same sense that Christians had access to the lions." - Judge Earl Johnson Jr.

[Edited at 2008-08-30 08:26]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:56
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Can the debt be sold? Aug 30, 2008

larru wrote:
Now, I wonder if paying the GBP 25 fee to use this service is worth the effort.


In some countries, under certain circumstances, a debt book can be sold. Seeing as there are several translators in this boat, would there be a local translator willing to buy the debt? I imagine it would be easier and more effective for a local translator to chase up the debt.

Just a thought.


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bakirtzi
Greece
Local time: 05:56
Greek to English
+ ...
Small claim procedure EU Sep 16, 2008

I am exactly at the same position with some of you. I delivered a translation for a British company and they are unwilling to pay me for my services. In addition, they do not reply to any of my messages.
As I practice law in Greece and I hold a LLM in European Law, I have studied the new procedure in EU concerning small claims, where the provider of the service and the receiver are resident in different EU countries. It is a simple and law cost procedure, you do not need a lawyer for it.
You can find useful information at:
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2007:199:0001:01:EN:HTML
or
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/Notice.do?val=453399:cs&lang=en&list=453399:cs,424933:cs,396214:cs,282216:cs,267140:cs,&pos=1&page=1&nbl=5&pgs=10&hwords=μικροδιαφορων~&checktexte=checkbox&visu=#texte
Please be free to contact me if you have further questions or even if you want to know which translation company is not willing to pay.


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