Date to remember : 1 October 2017
Introduction of the Pre-Action Protocol for Debt Claims (“the Protocol”)
When your School needs to chase unpaid fees from 1 October 2017 it will need to follow the “Pre-Action Protocol for Debt Claims”.
Your demand letter will need to include information regarding how the debt arose, any interest payable and how the debt can be paid. An information sheet, a reply form and a financial statement must be sent with it.
The demand letter should be sent by post; it can be sent by email as well (but not instead unless the debtor has explicitly requested).
The debtor then has 30 days to complete and return the reply form. If this is not done, you may start court proceedings. But if the debtor does reply and if a resolution is not found, the matter has to be referred to an appropriate form of alternative dispute resolution rather than going to court. If that fails to resolve the matter, you have to give at least a further 14 days’ notice before taking the matter to court.
This protocol process is in line with pre-action protocols in other cases and is intended to encourage settlements and reduce the number of court cases – but it could well have the effect of dragging out the process of collecting fees from slow payers.