Shacklocks Solicitors
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Debt Collection

Debt problems are on the increase in the UK and at Shacklocks LLP we know how frustrating and financially damaging it can be to wait for payment of a debt.  We are able to advise you in respect of any business debts owed, a vast array of financial disputes, disputes surrounding loan agreements or even unpaid rent.

Bringing a Claim

To start we will have an initial consultation with you and review the relevant contractual documents and invoices.  Following this we would usually chase the debt by way of tailor-made letter before action.  Should this prove unsuccessful, we will advise you of your options, and issue legal proceedings if required.  We have experience in all kinds of Court applications and procedures, and as a result are well equipped to represent you all the way to trial if needs be.  We will claim our costs and interest on top of the debt you are owed whenever the Court rules allow us to do so.


If you obtain a County Court Judgment in respect of a debt owed, there are a number of enforcement options available to you.  At Shacklocks LLP we have successfully obtained Attachment of Earnings Orders, Charging Orders over property owned, and applied for Freezing Orders over bank accounts.  We have also developed good relationships with High Court Enforcement Agents and are able to instruct bailiffs on an urgent basis where required.  We are able to meet with you to discuss the options available to you and bring you a cost effective and speedy solution.

Take a look at our case studies to see how effective our debt recovery services are.

How Much Will It Cost?

Our experienced Litigation Department has, over the years recovered hundreds of thousands of pounds of debt. 

We encourage you to contact us to discuss your specific requirements to enable us to provide you with a bespoke quote. However as a guide, our fees are based on hourly rates which are based on the experience of the person or team conducting your case, and the complexity of the work involved.

The team dealing with your work may include a Partner, Solicitor, Trainee Solicitor or Paralegal and hourly rates will range from £145 for a paralegal to £245 for a Partner. Our hourly rates are updated from time to time and we will always inform you of any changes during the life of your case.  In the examples below we have given calculations based on an hourly rate of £195 for a Solicitor. 

VAT is payable on top of all our hourly rates and on the examples given. 

The range of legal and administrative fees involved in recovering your debt will very much depend on the value and complexity of the dispute. For example, claims with a value of £10,000 or less are classed as ‘small claims’ by the Court, and would ordinarily be allocated to the Small Claims Track.   This is designed to suit straight forward, low value claims and as a result there are fewer directions to comply with.  As a result, you are not able to claim your legal fees from your opponent, other than limited fixed fee costs as prescribed by the Civil Procedure Rules.

Initial Work and letter before action

If your debt recovery relates to a business to business, straight forward, unpaid, undisputed invoice which does not include a counter-claim, we would charge approximately £390 to meet with you to take your instructions, review the papers, undertake appropriate basic searches and prepare and submit a letter before action to the debtor tailored to your particular circumstances, receive a payment and send it on to you. This estimate is based on two hours work at the hourly rate of £195. Should your claim be of higher value and have more complex circumstances, the legal and administrative fees to meet with you, consider the documents and prepare a letter before action are likely to range from £585 to £975 based on 3 to 5 hours of work at the hourly rate of £195.

Starting Proceedings

Should the debt remain unpaid following the letter before action. If the debt remains outstanding, we will recommend appropriate next steps in your case, discuss any additional work required, and the cost with you. If we start court proceedings for you, the cost of issuing proceedings will depend very much on the approach of the debtor and the amount of evidence involved, but typically our fees for draft and issuing a claim in the County Court will range from £682.50 to £975.  This is based on an estimated 3.5 to 5 hours of work.

Entering Judgment

Where no acknowledgment or defence is received, we will advise you on the next steps and likely costs. Where we apply to the Court to enter judgment in default, our fees are likely to be £97.50 to £195.

Application for Costs

Depending on the circumstances of your particular case, it may be possible to recover some or all of your legal fees from your debtor in addition to your claim. Wherever the court rules allow it we will make a claim for your costs. Where we are able to claim costs in some cases this may be limited to a modest fixed amount of costs. You will be obliged to pay our costs whether or not you are able to recover costs from your opponent.

Please note that the VAT element of our fees cannot always be recovered from your debtor. 

If your claim is for a value over £10,000, it is possible to make an application to the Court for your pre-action costs to be paid by your debtor, in addition to your claim.  Our for preparing an application in these circumstances is likely to cost in the region of £682.50 based on approximately 3.5 hours work at £195 per hour.  

Court Fees

In each of the stages detailed above a court fee will also be payable. The Court fee to start a claim for a debt varies usually depends on the value of the debt.  You can find out current court fees by following this link:


In each of the stages detailed above money may also be payable to third parties. These are known as disbursements. An example may be a tracing agency, bankruptcy search fees or land registry fees. Disbursement costs are set by the provider and are subject to change.  We will provide you with details of any disbursements applicable to your specific situation and will ask you for funds to cover those payments before those payments are incurred.

What is not included?

Debt collection and court proceedings are an uncertain venture. The example figures given in the stages above can only be estimates. They do not include dealing with disputed claims or any counterclaim made by a debtor, attending court hearings in person or by telephone, complying with any Court directions or preparing for or attending trial.  If the debtor disputes your claim at any point this is likely to increase the complexity of your case and we would then discuss any further work needed and provide you with revised advice about costs if necessary. 

The example figures given in the stages above do not include enforcement action such as instructing a County Court bailiff or High Court Enforcement Agent, Freezing Orders, Attachment of Earnings order, or Charging Orders.

Are we able to provide a fixed fee?

We can sometimes agree a fixed fee with you for the whole case or for a certain stage of the work if we have sufficient information about your case. Please contact us to see whether we are able to provide you with a fixed fee.

What if further work is necessary?

Further work will be charged at our hourly rates or at a fixed fee (for example if a one-off letter is required) or on an hourly rate basis if more work is required.


Where the court rules allow it we will claim interest or even compensation. This may take the debt into a higher banding, resulting in higher cost.

How Long Will It Take?

In our experience, an undisputed business debt recovery, where legal proceedings and enforcement action are not required, usually takes 4-8 weeks from receipt of instructions to receipt of payment from the debtor.  If it is necessary to issue Court proceedings, if your claim is disputed, or if enforcement action is needed, the case will take longer to resolve and the legal costs involved will increase.

How to get the best from our service

To help us provide our services to you, we encourage you to:

* Advise us of any changes to your contact details

* Inform us of any critical dates or timescales that are important to you

* Ask us to explain any aspect of our advice we have provided to you that you did not fully understand

Who Will Conduct the Work?

Our debt recovery service is conducted in our Litigation Department.  Litigation Solicitor Victoria Astle will assist you.  You can view Victoria’s profile here:

Victoria is assisted by a dedicated team of Trainee Solicitors and Secretaries.

Clare McShane, Partner and Solicitor has overall supervisory responsibility for our Litigation Department.  You can view her profile here: 

What to do next

These examples are for illustration only; our fees will vary from case to case according to the circumstances of your case and may be different to the figures quoted on this page. Please contact us so that we can provide you with a personalised quote or estimate.

Who do I Contact?

Victoria Astle, Solicitor, Litigation Victoria Astle

Solicitor, Litigation

Tel: 01623 626141

More about Victoria Astle...

Clare McShane, Partner, Employment and Litigation Clare McShane

Partner, Employment and Litigation

Tel: 01623 626141

More about Clare McShane...