This article considers the use of tracing agents to locate a debtor.
With the availability of short-term rental accommodation and virtual addresses, locating a current address for a debtor who owes you money can be an important first step before beginning proceedings.
The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) permit you to serve proceedings a debtor’s last known address. Whilst this is useful where you are unable to locate a debtor, it should not be used to avoid using reasonable attempts to locate a debtor before issuing proceedings. Securing a CCJ against a debtor at an address that you know they no longer live at, or have access to, can be risky if you have made no attempts to locate them.
Firstly, whilst you may have secured the CCJ with ease, enforcement proceedings often need an ‘active’ debtor who money can be obtained from. Whilst a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) will attend the CCJ address, if the debtor is not there then it is likely that there are no assets to seize. Secondly, it is not uncommon for debtors to later become aware of a CCJ against them and make an application to set aside the CCJ. Regardless of whether their application is successful, it will undoubtedly lead to additional work and costs being incurred.
Whether you instruct a tracing agent or not is entirely your prerogative and depends on the information you already have and what your aims are. For example, sending an LBA to an old address that you know the debtor does not live at, is not going to bring about payment. If getting paid is your goal, then a current address is vital.
At Debt-Claims, we work alongside leading tracing agents who will often be able to trace your debtor on a ‘no-trace, no-fee’ basis – meaning that if they cannot trace them, then there is no fee to pay. If the trace is successful, then you may be able to claim the tracing costs back from the debtor under your contract with them or under legislation that allows you to claim back reasonable costs. If you have a debtor that you want to trace before commencing an action, then speak to Debt-Claims Solicitors today.