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How to Recover Debts quickly

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Recover Debts quickly & cheaply

What is the best way to collect a debt? How do you recover debts quickly and cheaply.  It depends. Doing nothing should not be an option.

Why allowing debts to accrue is bad business. 

In June 2023, FRP Advisory were appointed as Administrators to Henry Construction. Henry, which had a turnover in the region of £400m to June 2021, looked a safe bet. Their last filed accounts showed a pre-tax profit of £14m and a balance sheet of c.£38m. To the outsider they seemed solid.

I know of contractors who were, as of December 2022, owed considerable sums of money by Henry. They were aware Henry had some cash flow problems but were not duly concerned. The prospects of making a recovery in late 2022 from Henry may have been slim. I understand  that Henry did, in February 2023, satisfy the WRB (Northern Ireland) adjudication enforcement judgment, so possibly not that slim. Insolvency occurs suddenly upon the director conceding defeat.

Advice to Recover Debts quickly and cheaply

The advice I always give to clients is: do not delay recovering debts, and do not place much faith in the balance sheet of contractors. A healthy balance sheet, over a year out of date, can quickly become negative.

There is often a reluctance to invest in debt recovery services. But there is no substitute for taking advice from a solicitor who understands the industry that the debtor operates in. I advise against issuing standard computer-generated letters.  I advise against instructing unregulated and unauthorised debt recovery agents. 

Beware of Insolvency 

Before a company enters formal insolvency, there is often a period of several months when he who shouts loudest gets paid. I know of several instances where MJD have recovered money for clients but several months later the debtor has entered insolvency. I have also experienced clients losing out to insolvency due to earlier inaction. If you are not being paid undisputed debts, or if the debt is disputed on fanciful grounds, then you should ask why?

Consider a Winding up Petition.

The nuclear option in the litigator’s pocket is the winding-up petition. It is a fast, high-reward strategy, but it is also high-risk. It should only be used in limited circumstances, but when deployed correctly it can be extremely beneficial. It is vital, however, that the creditor takes competent legal advice before following this procedure.

In those circumstances where a winding-up petition is not appropriate, the debtor should consider a statutory demand. Statutory demands can and often do result in a return. However, deciding whether to issue a statutory demand prior to issuing a winding-up petition often depends upon the creditor’s appetite for risk.

Consider Construction Adjudication 

Construction adjudication is almost always preferable to litigation. A reluctant debtor can create massive delays in litigation; it would be unusual to get a trial within a year. With an adjudication it is possible to get a decision within 35 – 42 days from instruction and if necessary, a High Court judgment within about 16 weeks from instruction.


Had the creditor of Henry that we mention in the third paragraph of this note asked MJD to represent them and recover their debt, it is just possible that the said contractor would have been ahead of the queue and recovered payment before the administration of Henry.

We would have explained how to recover debts quickly and cheaply.  There are never guarantees, but in our experience the contractor who does nothing to pursue his creditors rarely benefits from his inaction.

Matthew Dillon

MJD Solicitors

11 July 2023.



MJD Solicitors | Matthew Dillon

Matthew Dillon

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