Debt recovery United Kingdom

Doing business involves risk. This includes countries where you might think your business would run smoothly because there is no language barrier. It is possible that your customer does not pay, even when doing business in England. What can you do when your customer in England does not meet its financial obligations?

1. Demanding payment

Personal debt in England stood at £1.456 trillion in March 2012. Send your customer in England a demand for payment as soon as the deadline for payment has expired. It is important that this demand sets out the details of the claim and that it includes that the debtor will pay any additional costs incurred to the creditor.

2. Assigning claims

It is advisable to assign your open claims to Bierens Collection Attorneys when your English customer does not respond to the demand. Bierens has an English lawyer along with an English section both in Amsterdam and in Veghel, the Netherlands. Our employees have perfect command of Dutch and English, so that they can deal with all issues requiring Dutch and make effective collections in England. They are also thoroughly familiar with English law, regulation, and culture.

3. Dealing with collections in England

Protection of the creditor is foremost in the Netherlands. That is not the case in England. A neutral approach is central there: everyone is equal before the law. This means that a different approach is needed to deal with an English debtor. In England a judgment is executed through the courts and is carried out by a bailiff, or by someone with an equivalent position.

A. Extrajudicial collections

After your claim is transferred to Bierens Collection Attorneys payment will be demanded by your debtor in writing and by telephone. If the open claim is still not paid, Bierens will institute legal action, in consultation with you.

B. Court-ordered collections

Legal action can be brought in various ways against a debtor in England, including through a quick European Order for Payment procedure or an extensive action on the merits. An enforceable order (which can be a judgment or an order compelling payment) is needed to execute a claim in England. The English legal system is set up differently from the Dutch and provides for an action on the merits and for the European Order for Payment as well as other ways to litigate and to execute.

European Order for Payment proceedings

The European Order for Payment proceedings is brought when a claim has not been disputed extrajudicially. It is characterized by the speed, simplicity, and the (generally) self-financing order for costs. This action will give you an enforceable order.

Action on the merits

An action on the merits is instituted when a claim has already been disputed extrajudicially or the debtor will not pay and the case is not suited for the European Order for Payment procedure. This claim must be justified and substantiated with evidence and will be assigned either to Small claims, or Fast and Multi track depending on the amount of the claim and complexity of the case.

If the counterparty does not raise a defense judgment will be rendered within four weeks. Only a small portion of costs can be recovered from the debtor in a Small claims procedure, making it less favorable for small claims [SIC]. On the other hand, a large portion of the costs for larger claims can be recovered from the debtor. Where there is a defense, the proceedings will be both written and oral, and can take one to two years.


Prejudgment attachment, or a ‘Freezing Injunction’ under English law, is viewed in England as being very drastic and is granted only when a number of substantial interests are shown. One of the conditions is “a real risk that the debtor will purposely allow assets to disappear in order to thwart a judgment’. And if the debtor’s assets are wrongly attached the creditor will owe compensation to the debtor. Because of its substantial conditions the ‘Freezing Injunction’ is seldom used in practice.

Bankruptcy petition

When the claim is not disputed the creditor can have a legal demand for payment served on the debtor. This demands payment. If payment is not made within twenty-one days, the debtor’s insolvency is then presumed from this. It is now possible to file a petition for the debtor’s bankruptcy. An alternative is to get a judgment for the claim in order then to lodge a bankruptcy petition. A judge is often prepared to declare a debtor bankrupt when other means of enforcing a judgment have used without result. The petition for bankruptcy is often the last resort. This procedure involves high costs and can be lengthy.

4. Extra: Costs of collection

In England it is possible to recover costs of collection from the debtor. Extrajudicial collection costs, however, are capped at £100.00.

5. Advice about debt collection in England

Would you like more information about collections or bringing legal action in England? Email or telephone +31 20 312 11 00.

See also: Debt Collection UK on the website of Bierens Debt Recovery Lawyers.

Transfer claim

This website is about sharing knowledge. But if you have a claim to recover, you can go to the website of Bierens Debt Recovery Lawyers. For claims submitted by 4pm, a demand letter is sent the same day.

Transfer claim