The Pre-Action protocol for debt claims and a Letter Before Action to an Individual
Whether you, as a business, or your solicitor are sending a Letter Before Action or a Letter Before Claim to an individual or sole trader, compliance must be had to the Pre-Action protocol for debt claims. You can review the Protocol here.
If this Pre-Action protocol is not followed this can be detrimental to any future claim as the Court may impose sanctions on any party that fails to comply. Note that the Pre-Action protocol does not apply to business to business debts unless the debtor is a sole trader.
The protocol aims to promote early communication between the parties, enable the parties to resolve the dispute in a cost-effective way without the need for court proceedings and encourages the parties to act reasonably and in a proportionate manner.
The Letter Before Action must include the following information:
- The amount of the debt
- Whether interest or other charges are accruing
- Where the debt arises from an oral agreement:
- Who made the agreement;
- What was agreed;
- When and where the agreement was made.
- Where the debt arises from a written agreement:
- The date of the agreement;
- The parties to the agreement.
- Where the debt has been assigned, the details of the original debt and creditor, when it was assigned and to whom it was assigned.
- If regular instalments are currently being offered by or on behalf of the debtor, or are being paid, an explanation as to why the offer or current instalments being paid are not acceptable and the reason why a court claim is being considered.
- Details of how the debt can be paid
- Details of how to proceed if the debtor wishes to discuss payment options
- The address to which the completed Reply form should be sent
The following documents must be included with the Letter Before Action:
- Up to date statement of account for the debt including details of any interest and other additional charges added;
- A copy of the agreement made with the debtor.
- A copy of the Information and Reply form which can be found at Annex 1 to the Debt Protocol
- A financial statement form which is provided at Annex 2
An individual and sole trader must be given 30 days to respond to the Letter Before Action. If they do not reply within this time frame, then you may proceed with a county court claim.
Interest can be added to the debt from the date it became due to the date of the Letter Before Action. Unless the interest is defined within the contract that you have with the debtor, then this is in accordance with s69 County Courts Act 1984 at the statutory interest rate of 8%.