Late payment of commercial debts

If you require legal assistance with commercial debt recovery our specialist solicitors have the experience you need to provide an efficient and cost effective recovery service for your business. We have developed our commercial debt recovery service to operate on a fixed fee basis for undisputed debt. To speak to an experienced solicitor about commercial debt recovery or the interest and compensation which may be claimed under The Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998, call our team on 0203 816 9303.

We can normally guarantee to send a same-day letter before action if your instructions are sent to us before 4pm on a working day - online debt recovery instruction.

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When does a payment officially become late?

Unless you have already agreed when an invoice is to be paid, the law states that a payment is classed as late after 30 days for business transactions and public authorities once:

  • The customer receives the invoice
  • or you have delivered the goods or services (if this is later)

However, you are allowed to agree longer payment periods and this will vary from one business to another.

What is The Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998?

In short, this Act together with The Late Payment of Commercial Debts Regulations 2013 (“the regulations”) entitle businesses to claim interest and compensation for late payment. In some cases, there is also an entitlement to claim the “reasonable” costs of the debt recovery where this would exceed the fixed amount of compensation specified in the Act.

This Act together with the subsequent regulations have two main purposes, namely to help compensate businesses when debts have not been paid on time and also to deter late payment. The Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act and the regulations only apply to commercial transactions; the supply of goods and services where there is no provision for the payment of interest in the supplier’s terms of business or where those terms do not provide a substantial remedy for late payment.

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How much can you claim?

Currently, a business may claim statutory interest for a recent debt at 8.00% over base rate along with compensation of £40 to £100 per invoice depending on the value of the invoice. The current base rate at the Bank of England is 0.5%.

Businesses can also claim interest on any invoices that were not paid within the agreed period, but have since been paid. For example, if an invoice was not paid on the agreed date of 1st January and takes two months before it is paid on the 1st March, interest can be claimed on the two months the invoice was overdue for payment.

Businesses can claim interest up to six years from when an invoice was supposed to be paid.

The following is a breakdown of how much compensation you can claim under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act:

Invoice amount - Compensation

Up to £999.99 - £40 per invoice

£1000 - £9,999.99 - £70 per invoice

Over £10,000 - £100 per invoice

When can I claim?

Businesses can claim late payment interest as well as the compensation involved if:

  • It has supplied goods and/or services
  • The contract was not a consumer credit agreement
  • The buyer bought the products or services for business purposes
  • The contract does not include a provision for interest on invoices that are overdue which amounts to a substantial remedy

Claiming reasonable costs

No matter what your collection costs are, businesses can claim late payment compensation. In addition, in cases where the reasonable costs of recovering the debt from an unpaid invoice are greater than the fixed compensation itself, you can claim increased compensation to cover the difference between the fixed compensation and the reasonable recovery costs.

Do I have to tell my customers that I will be claiming late payment interest?

No, you do not have to tell your customers that you will pursue a claim of late payment interest, the compensation or the costs involved before any breach of payment terms. However, it may be a good idea to state this in your terms of business to deter any late payments.

When am I not entitled to late payment interest or compensation?

If your contract or terms of business with customers already provides for the right to claim interest on overdue invoices is deemed to amount to a substantial remedy in itself you are not entitled to late payment interest, compensation or costs. For this reason it is advisable to change your terms of business to incorporate the relevant provisions of the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act  - contact our specialist team for advice. This process requires an expert solicitor, as you will need to:

  • Amend all documents where your terms and conditions appear
  • Provide your customers with the amended versions and advise when the new terms and conditions will apply

What should I do next?

If you wish to discuss any aspect of the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act or the regulations and how they may affect your business or wish to pursue late payment interest or compensation for any invoices that you have not been paid contact our debt recovery solicitors for advice.

We have the expertise you need to pursue these claims and are experts in bringing about positive resolutions for those suffering from their invoices not being paid on time.

For more information, contact us today on 0203 816 9303.

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As an award-winning top 150 law firm, with over 450 staff based in offices across the country, you're never far from the advice you need.