Late Payment of Commercial Debts
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Things people say

  • We do not accept that a £40.00 fee applies 14 days after the invoice: This customer had an invoice that clearly stated 7 working days terms, and did not pay. 14 days later we sent an invoice for £40 penalty. Five months later they finally pay the original invoice (and some interest they worked out), but complain (for the first time) that surely £40 fees do not apply after only 14 days! Duh, like that makes any odds - it certainly applies after five months. We pointed out that even if the 7 working days terms were not agreed that would leave the default 30 day terms which they have exceeded by 4 months so yes, they have to pay!
  • Our client, being a small company, was not aware of the law on late payment penalties: This was from a solicitor acting for a customer that have penalties. Its like saying "they only paid late because they thought they would get away with it". Regardless of the law they were aware that they had agreed to pay us within specific terms. Even so, ignorance of the law is no defence and solicitors really should know better.
  • We want you to agree not to charge penalties in future. Rarely someone threatens to leave us because of penalties (and it is rare) and in one case we had someone basically say they would only stay if we agreed not to charge penalties in future. My response was relatively simple, and they did stay with us: I explained that I could agree to not charge penalties, in writing, with company seal and signed in blood if they like, but such an agreement was legally invalid because of the legislation, so really no point. I also said that I would, on my honour as a gentleman agree not to charge penalties in future, provided that he agreed not to pay late. Well, that is the basic agreement in the contract in the first place, so what the hell. Crazy.

We plan to add more stories here over time - daft things that are not one of the "excuses" lists as such, just plain daft! If you have funny stories on late payments, email