Frequently asked questions

What is a Letter Before Action (LBA)?

A Letter Before Action, also known as a Letter of Claim, is a formal letter that sets out what a claimant states they are entitled to, and what they expect the respondent to do. In the context of debt, the claimant will state why the respondent owes them money and how much, and when it needs paid by, before legal proceedings are issued. An LBA must include certain information in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules.

What is a HCEO?

HCEO stands for High Court Enforcement Officer. HCEOs are officers of the High Court of England and Wales who are responsible for enforcing judgments of the High Court, often by seizing goods or repossessing property. They operate only in England and Wales. A High Court Enforcement Officer may in some cases enforce County Court Judgments (CCJs).

Should I Enforce a CCJ Whilst There is an Application to Set Aside the Judgment?

Usually, once an application has been received by the Court and listed for a hearing (or initial directions) the Court will also stay (pause) any enforcement of the judgment until the application has been heard. Often, you might receive a copy of the application before the Court have made their initial directions; in these cases (and whilst it’s not mandatory) then depending on the circumstances, it might be sensible to take no further action as any money recovered might have to be returned if the judgment is set aside. Further, it is likely that once the Court have considered the application, they will impose a stay anyway, and you may incur further costs continuing with enforcement in the meantime.

If it this the case that the Defendant has told you they have made (or are making) an application, but no application has been received, then you can continue to enforce the judgment as normal. However, be mindful that the application could still in the queue for processing at the Court.

What are the Next Steps after a Letter Before Action (LBA) has Expired?

Generally, once your LBA has expired and the debtor has not paid or responded, you would want to issue Court proceedings in order to obtain a County Court Judgment against them. If the debtor has responded to your LBA, then depending on their response you might want to consider alternate options, such as responding to their response or trying to arrange a settlement.

You can escalate your LBA to Court proceedings quickly via our portal. Similarly, if at any point you want to instruct us to take conduct of the matter, we are more than happy to do so (our normal hourly rates will apply as per our Pricing Guide).

What costs are involved in issuing proceedings?

To issue court proceedings, you have to pay a fee to the Court (known as the Court fee or issue fee). This fee is automatically added to your total claim and can be recovered from the Defendant if you are successful with your claim. Court fees vary depending on the value and type of claim.
If you instruct us to issue court proceedings on your behalf, then you will also have to pay us a fee for doing this (known as solicitors costs or legal costs). Certain solicitor’s costs can be recovered and added to the total claim. Please review our Pricing Structure for details of Court fees and Solicitor costs and how much can be recovered from the Defendant.

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Can I add contractual interest to my claim?

Yes, if the contract between you and the other side has provisions for interest, you can claim these from the debtor. When submitting a matter through our portal, there is the option to add contractural interest as part of your claim. All you need to do is enter the interest rate and frequency, and our portal will calculate the total interest you can claim. Additionally, if your contract allows for other costs to be claimed, you can enter these as part of your claim against the debtor.

Do I have to issue a Letter Before Action (LBA)?

If your intention is to issue Court proceedings against the debtor in order to obtain a CCJ against them, then you will need to send an LBA before issuing. Often, an LBA is enough to get the debtor to pay.

What are reasonable costs when issuing proceedings?

Reasonable costs can come under two forms: Contractually, you might have an entitlement to claim any reasonable costs incurred from pursuing the debt, if you do, your claim should include a claim for these. In the alternative, under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998, you can make a claim for any reasonable costs incurred which are not covered by the fixed compensatory sums under the Act. Reasonable costs can be incurred in various ways, but the key factor to remember is that they must be reasonable.

What enforcement options do I have after obtaining a County Court Judgment (CCJ)?

There are various options for enforcement from Court Bailiffs through to Attachment of Earnings Orders. For a full breakdown of enforcement options, please read our article

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