Late Payment of Commercial Debts
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Excuse 23: We were not aware of the law!


This has to be one of the strangest ones we have had, and it was in fact from a solicitor writing regarding one of their clients. They said that as they were only a small company they were unaware of the law on late payments. Solicitors should know better than to say things like this.

This is only likely when someone was unware of the law, but makes no real sense as it almost like saying that we paid late because we did not realise there was a penalty, which is admitting you paid late. If you think you paid on time, the law on late payment is not relevant.

Underlying reasons

Genuinely unaware of the law on the matter
It could happen, which is why we recomment that you (a) advise that there are late payment penalties on the invoice and in the terms, so making them aware, (b) charge late payment penalies as soon as they come up so making them aware, (c) cancel the charges the first time now that they are aware in the interests of good will.


  • Making it clear that late payments apply in the contract and invoices nullifies this excuse.
  • Charging penalties the first time, and then giving a credit in the interests of good will is a good policy as it makes it very in-your-face clear that there are penalties - completely nullifying any later claim as to being unaware of the law
  • Ignorance of the law is no defence, so this is simply not a valid excuse.