At Clarke & Son, we endeavour to resolve disputes in a timely and professional manner and, when appropriate, negotiate and mediate to help you and your business avoid expensive Court proceedings.
Ongoing disputes can seriously impact your cash flow, and if not managed properly, can damage your business reputation and affect valuable business relationships.
Our expert team can help you with:
- Business Disputes
- Contract Disputes
- Director/Shareholder Disputes
- Partnership Disputes
- Business Lease Renewal
- Credit Control & Debt Collection
- Debt Collection of up to £100,000 for businesses
Book an Appointment
Our Dispute Resolution team are on hand to assist with a range of business dispute enquiries, get in touch to book an appointment.
At Clarke & Son, we endeavour to resolve disputes in a timely and professional manner and, when appropriate, negotiate and mediate to help you and your business avoid expensive Court proceedings. If, however, Court action becomes necessary, then we will pursue this vigorously to enforce your legal rights and remedies.
Any disagreements affecting a business will distract from its strategy and plans. Time and money will be wasted. The key thing is to resolve business disputes quickly which is where we come in.
Early specialist advice can often ensure problems do not destabilise the business. We help businesses with all kinds of disputes depending on how you treat your employees; disagreements with landlords or tenants; contract issues with suppliers; just about anything you can think of!
We will help to plan the way through a problem and take the necessary action on your behalf.
We will always make sure you are clear about our costs so there are no surprises.
Much of what we do is regulated by contract law. This can be the case even if there is no written contract or all the terms of the contract are not recorded in writing.
There are all types of contract disputes which affect individuals and businesses.
When we are instructed to consider a possible claim for breach of contract we need to understand the terms and be certain that a contract has been formed. There are legal requirements that we will check have been satisfied.
If there is no binding contract we will need to advise you as to whether you may have another legal route to protect your position.
If there is a binding contract that has been breached by either party we can advise you as to the remedies or protections available to you.
The typical remedy for breach of contract is compensation in damages for financial loss. The objective is to compensate the injured party for loss and not to punish the party in default.
Indeed the contract itself may contain a mechanism for calculating damages.
Damages for mental distress is only recoverable in very limited cases.
Even if loss is suffered, the injured party may not be able to recover the full amount of that loss. The person claiming damages needs to prove the loss and that the loss was caused by the breach of contract. Also, the party claiming damages has a “duty to mitigate”.
There may be other remedies available depending on the circumstances and what is appropriate. For example, it may be more relevant to require the performance of the contract by the party in default.
We can assist you in understanding whether there has been a breach of contracts and if so what the remedies would be. The sooner we see you the better whether it is to pursue remedies or to protect your position where allegations are made against you.
Being a director brings with it certain legal responsibilities as well as the demands of the business. All in all, it is a demanding role and there are many ways in which the interested directors and shareholders can clash. This can be over the business’s further strategy or even what dividends and bonuses can be justified. How do you manage expectations when family members or close friends are involved? There are also statutory responsibilities!
There are ways to address this. A strong shareholder agreement will help. So will guidance on governance and responsibilities including contracts to reflect this.
Many well run businesses will have a strong balance of effective directors and involve shareholders. More often than not, the directors and the shareholders are the same people with small and even medium-sized businesses.
If a problem arises that cannot be sorted out directly then involving us early to represent one or more parties or the company can assist in a major way to enable a sensible compromise to be achieved and documented as soon as possible with minimum impact on the company and its business.
A dispute amongst partners should be dealt with like any commercial arrangement. However, because of the personal investment of time and money made by individual partners, any fall out can be fractious and damaging.
Hopefully, there is a partnership deal in place which can help resolve issues. We can prepare an up to date deed if you need it.
Otherwise, our primary objective is to promote agreement as soon as possible. Otherwise, hard-earned value and goodwill can be irreparably damaged. This is in no one’s interest.
We can help all types of partnerships to address and resolve disagreements. We will identify the dispute and explain how it can be resolved. We will work with other professionals such as accountants as necessary. We will listen to what you want, advise and look to achieve the best resolution.
Business Lease Renewal
A tenant of a business lease has a statutory right to a lease renewal at the end of the contractual term, if it satisfies certain statutory criteria set out in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (LTA 1954).
The terms of the new lease are to be agreed upon between the landlord and tenant. If no agreement can be reached, the terms will be determined by a court.
A landlord is entitled to exclude the provisions of the LTA 1954 by following a statutory procedure before the tenant becomes committed to take a lease. This is usually called “contracting out”.
A landlord can oppose the tenant’s statutory right to a lease renewal on any of the grounds set out in the LTA 1954. The landlord can only rely on a ground of opposition specified at the outset of the process (for example possession is required for redevelopment). Provided all the criteria set by the LTA 1954 can be met by the tenant, the landlord cannot oppose a lease renewal if no ground of opposition is specified and cannot try to oppose on a different ground.
We have experience acting for both landlords and tenants in connection with the business lease renewal process. Many renewals are unopposed in principle and it is just a case of agreeing on the precise terms including ensuring the terms of occupation are up to date. We also have experience of cases where a renewal is opposed.
We work closely with the commercial surveyors who are normally involved to ensure any negotiations which take place do so on an informed basis.
Whether you are a landlord or tenant, getting clear legal advice at the outset of the process will mean you have a clear strategy that will assist in achieving the best commercial outcome as soon as possible. Rarely are Court proceedings necessary but if they are then we will be ready to take the right steps.
Credit Control & Debt Collection
The last thing any business owner wants to worry about is debt collection. However, as we all know cash flow is crucial so getting paid for what you have done or supplied is critical.
For businesses, the first thing we say is to get your Terms of Business right at the outset. We can prepare these for you. If everything is clear at the outset then hopefully there will be no issues down the line.
Once a bill or invoice has been submitted, you need to keep an eye on your credit control to ensure payment is received. We can help you with a simple credit control system for you to use internally.
If this does not work, and depending on the commercial sensitivities of the matter, you may wish then to involve us – we can send a letter before claim referring to the amount due, interest and late payment charges now payable and requiring full payment to be made within a specific period of time (for example seven days) failing which Court action will be required.
We will do this work for a fixed fee. To enable us to do this we have a form which we ask is completed and sent to us which then provides the information we need to process the letter before claim.
In most cases, this is sufficient to deal with any problem. In some cases, we need to see the threat through and issue Court action. Again we will give you a fixed fee estimate to cover the costs involved in issuing a claim.
Of course, it is important to consider the financial status of the creditor at an early stage. We have access to certain reporting which can help you understand the prospects of recovery. Although it is not palatable to write off outstanding bills, there is little point commercially in pursuing recovery if the creditor is insolvent.
Debt Collection of up to £100,000 for businesses
All costs information given here is general and we will give more personalised information later when a full quote is requested.
We receive an instruction from a business client to recover a debt owed by another business.
The debt is uncontested or there is no material basis for disputing the debt.
The client decides against using any insolvency related process.
We write a letter before claim. We will need the contract or terms of business with details of rates of interest and the order, order acceptance and invoice as available. We always need to be able to show the money has fallen due.
Under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 in the absence of a specified rate, interest can be claimed at 8% over the Bank of England base rate together with compensation at the rate of £40 – £100 per invoice outstanding.
Compensation (or debt recovery cost) is chargeable as follows:
|Amount of debt||What you can charge|
|Up to £999.99||£40|
|£1,000 to £9,999.99||£70|
|£10,000 or more||£100|
We take instructions. A letter before claim is sent and payment is made.
The costs we claim are those which can be charged for each invoice under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998. VAT is added to those charges so the range would be £40 plus VAT to £100 plus VAT for each invoice. We cannot add VAT to the Compensation charge shown above.
A case like this would normally take no more than one month from initial instruction to resolve.
- Paul Cowdery is a Partner and his hourly rate is £300 plus VAT. Paul is an experienced litigator and has undertaken contract and debt recovery work for many years as part of a mixed commercial litigation practice. He spends about 5% of his time on debt-related matters.
- Irfan Dad is his assistant and his rate is £118 plus VAT. Irfan has been doing employment work since 2017 working with Paul. About 10% of his time is spent on debt-related matters.
- Our fees are based on the hourly rates of the people dealing. The ranges given above take this into account as well as the complexity of the matter.
In the small claims court, legal costs save for the costs of issue and the hearing fee are not normally recoverable by the successful party.
On the fast track, legal costs are recoverable by the successful party and normally amount to about 75% of the costs incurred. There are scenarios in which this can be varied.
On the multi-track, the proportion of costs recoverable is about the same as the fast track. There is also potentially a process for costs budgeting.
The costs of enforcement would be additional.
All of this is subject to the debtor having the money!
The information set out above is a guide only.
Please note that in all cases where we are asked to undertake work, we will give a more precise and personalised indication of costs in our retainer letter sent to you at the outset of the matter.