About this blog

Accessible legal tips, know-how and news for anyone with a complaint or legal issue from Stephen Gold, author of The Return of Breaking Law, the book

Tuesday 23 August 2016


Fewer businesses are being sued in the county court for the money they are said to owe. Figures just out reveal that the number of registered judgments in England and Wales fell by 19% in the first half of this year. The hike in court fees for starting a case is almost certainly a major factor in the drop but perhaps there's a canny factor at work on the part of creditors. 

Creditors usually have six years to start a county court claim from when they should have been paid. The debt will almost certainly clock up interest in the meantime at the rate of a thumping 8%: slightly more if one business is in debt to another business and even more if the contract says so. So long as your debtor does not look like becoming insolvent, the idea of sitting back and watching that interest mount up may be an attractive one. The ultimate judgment will itself attract interest for so long as it goes unpaid if for at least £5,000.

The cheap alternative to suing is serving the debtor with a statutory demand which is not issued through any court and so does not attract a fee. It is a precursor to bankruptcy or winding up proceedings which do cost loadsamoney but, with a bit of luck, the debtor will react by settling for fear of being wiped out by a bankruptcy or winding up order.

For those with very modest capital and income, it may be possible to get a waiver of court fees for starting a case (and taking other steps in the case). An application can be made for what is called fee remission. It's all in Breaking Law.