Late Payment of Commercial Debts
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Enforcing penalties

Unlike most other sorts of dispute with a customer, late payment penalties are based on some simple and usually provable facts.

  • When the invoice was issued
  • What the terms for payment are
  • When payment was made

Lots of other issues, such as amount of penalty, or if penalties were agreed or not are irrelevant as they are dictated by statute. All that has to be established is that the customer was made aware of the amount of the debt (they do not even have to been sent an invoice as such!). The payment terms can even be determined by default - i.e. if not agreed then they are 30 days. The date the payment was made can be resolved, with the only grey area being when a cheque arrived in the post - but a post mark can usually clarify that within a few days.

Other aspects, such as disputing the original invoice, the goods or service supplied, etc, are usually irrelevant if it was actually paid. If not paid then you probably need to chase the original invoice first.

This makes penalties incredibly easy to enforce. Once the customer has accepted and agreed these few facts, they have no argument against paying.

Of course, some will argue on some sort of principle "We don't pay penalties", and there will be no convincing them otherwise - those you end up in small claims court. If these basic facts are agreed it is hard to see how it could not win in court.

The amounts involved in penalties fall in to small claims track of the county court, and you can start proceedings on line at with just a few minutes work and a credit card.

Actual cases

We hope to document actual cases that have gone to court.

  1. Our first case that we took to court... argued on principle "we don't pay penalties". Filed defence and so went to hearing. Failed to attend so lost by default. Paid penalty and court fees immediately on judgement from the court.
  2. A second case was heard recently and was quite educational. A&A vs Cenpo
  3. A third case was heard recently and was quite educational. A&A vs G-Nostics
  4. Someone else we know has also just won a case following much of our advice. There was no issue over the late payment penalties - confirming terms were agreed - confirming payment was late - job done.