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National Debtline

Advice you can trust

Business debt recovery

There are several ways to try and recover money owed. You need to decide which route is best for you. Consider the cost of recovery action, and how it will affect the relationship with your customer.

Why is the money outstanding?


  • There can be many reasons why a customer or business has not paid you.
  •  It is important to try and find out why this has happened.

  • It can help you decide what to do next.

Your customer or business may:

  • have simply forgotten to pay you;

  • be struggling to find the money at the moment;

  • dispute the amount they owe you;
  • be unhappy about the work done or goods received;
  • have stopped trading; or
  • have entered into insolvency, such as bankruptcy or liquidation.

If you are owed money by a limited company you can also check their status with Companies House. You can do this online for free.

Companies House will show whether the limited company has entered into any formal insolvency, or has been dissolved. If you are unsure what this means contact us for advice.

Late payment interest

Your contract may say that you can add extra charges for late payment. If you are owed money by another business you can add late payment interest and compensation under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998.

You can choose to do this instead of making charges under the terms of your contract. Contact us for advice. 

Debt recovery options

It is important to check how much you are owed, and that you have sent out invoices for the amount due.

You can then:

  • send a reminder letter;
  • get a solicitor to send a reminder letter;
  • use a debt collection agency to ask for payment (they can ask for payment and sometimes also offer tracing services);
  • use mediation (this is where an impartial trained mediator acts like a referee in a dispute); or
  • ask the court for a County Court Judgment.

It is important to remember that there is no guarantee that you will be paid with any of these options. You will need to weigh up whether you can afford, or are willing to pay the extra costs needed.

Useful Links

You can search for, and speak to debt collectors in your area at Credit Services Association.

HM Courts and Tribunal Services website provides a list of mediators registered by the Civil Mediation Council.

The costs for raising a claim are shown in court leaflet EX50.

Useful information is also included in our Claims in the County Court fact sheet