Debt collection and litigation
Our Debt Collection and Legal process
If you’ve come to this page, it’s likely you’ve received a 'Letter of Claim' from us about an outstanding water bill.
We understand that getting this letter may be worrying and that you may have a number of questions so we’ve done our best to try and answer them for you on this page.
Before contacting us, we recommend that you read all of the information in the 'Letter of Claim' and this website, as it may help answer some of your questions.
We only take legal action as a last resort, but you must act quickly now if you want to avoid this happening. You must repay the debt owed, either in one payment or by an instalment plan which is fair and reasonable.
And remember, the best way to avoid the hassle and expense of legal action is to contact us to talk about your repayment – the sooner, the better. It’s never too late to talk to us but if you don’t contact us by the date specified in your 'Letter of Claim' you could receive a Court claim.
Letter of Claim
This is because we’ve already sent you several reminders and you’ve not paid in full or arranged a suitable payment plan with us. We’re required by the Court to send this letter before we’re able to issue a claim against you. We’d advise you to read this letter carefully as it outlines what action you can take to avoid a claim being made against you. You’ll have 30 days to respond.
A copy of the relevant Court rules can be found here.
If you believe the legal action affects you, you should seek independent legal advice.
We can only discuss your personal details with somebody else if you have given us your permission in writing.
If you’re having difficulty in dealing with the matter you can nominate someone else to help you. Please see our priority services page for more information. Alternatively, you may want to formally appoint legal representation. If you want someone to act of your behalf at Court, such as a Solicitor, then they will have to go ‘on the record’ with the Court as acting for you.
We view legal action as a last resort. We’re keen to work with you to agree the best way to clear the debt as soon as possible.
Ideally, we’d like you to do this in a single lump-sum payment but we realise that this may not always be possible. As an alternative, we may agree an arrangement with you to clear the debt over a reasonable period of time.
What is reasonable will depend on your financial circumstances, although we will take into account factors such as your personal circumstances, your ability to pay the proposed amounts, the balance you owe, your past payment behaviour and your ongoing water and/or sewerage charges.
You should complete a ‘Reply’ and ‘Statement of Means’ forms to see exactly what money you have available to pay towards the debt each month. You should send this form to us to support your proposal, together with evidence to prove your financial position. This will typically be in the form of wage slips, proof of benefits and three months’ worth of bank statements. This must be sent within 30 days of the date the Letter of Claim was sent to you.
Unless you give us this information, we cannot verify if your offer is fair and reasonable. If you don’t send the supporting information we will presume that you can afford to clear the debt in one payment. In these circumstances we will not accept your instalment offer as a formal repayment arrangement.
You should contact us immediately and provide your IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) / bankruptcy details.
You should forward our letter to them as soon as possible. They need to contact us and provide the appropriate Letter of Authority so that we can discuss the matter with them. We will not contact them on your behalf.
Because we issued a claim (described above), following your failure to either make payment or contact us with payment proposals; or no formal repayment arrangement has been agreed.
When we incur solicitor and Court costs we add these to the amount claimed on the Claim Form as we are asking the Court to award us these (order you to pay them). These costs form part of the claim balance
We’d strongly recommend that you read it carefully. You should also seek independent legal advice if you are not sure about any aspect of the Claim Form, or what we are claiming, and what you need to do next.
If you don’t respond to the claim after 14 days, we can request a Judgement in ‘default’ of your failure to respond, which allows us to move to the enforcement stage.
Judgements stay on the Register of Judgements for six years. Banks and loan companies use this information to help decide whether to give you credit. Your judgement is only removed from the register if:
- you paid the full amount within 28 days from the date of judgement;
- it is set aside (withdrawn) by the court.
If you pay the full amount within 28 days you can remove your judgement by sending a fee and proof of payment to the Court. If it takes you more than 28 days to pay the judgement, you can send a fee and proof of payment to get the judgement marked 'satisfied' on the register. It will stay for six years but people/companies searching the register will see that you have paid it.
You can search the register yourself for a fee. If your details are wrong you can get your entry checked with the Court. Some companies offer ‘credit repair’ checks, but you can usually sort things out yourself with the Court more cheaply.
Order for Questioning
We have to arrange for the documents to be served on you so that the court can be satisfied you are aware of the order.
We’d strongly recommend you read it carefully and seek independent legal advice if you’re unsure on anything.
You should note the time and date of the hearing and make sure you attend. If you fail to attend after you have been served with the order, the Court may make a further order for your committal to prison so it is essential that you deal with the matter.
You can contact us at any stage to make an offer of payment. Alternatively you can direct your offer to the Court via the hearing. Your reasonable travel expenses can be claimed in advance for attending the hearing.
High Court Enforcement
High Court enforcement is a method of recovering a judgment debt. We’ll apply to transfer the judgment from the County Court to the High Court. The High Court will then provide us with a ‘Writ of Control’.
This is a warrant which is then sent to High Court Enforcement Officers who will visit your home and take goods to the value of the warrant.
Any offers of payment, either by instalments or lump-sum settlement, must be made directly to the officers who will seek instructions from us. You should note that the debt will increase once the officers have been instructed as additional High Court fees incurred will be added.
We cannot discuss repayment with you directly once the High Court Enforcement Officers have been instructed.
A Charging Order secures the debt against your home or any other property that you own. This means you could lose your home if you don't pay back what you owe.
Once a Charging Order has been made, we can apply to the Court for another order to force you to sell your home. This is called an Order for Sale. We don’t want to do this, so we’ll always look at other options, such as High Court enforcement.
In all instances we’d always recommend that you make an instalment offer to reduce the debt or at the very least, prevent interest from being added over time, which will increase the debt.
If you wish to prevent your property from being affected then contact us straight away to discuss repayment proposals - the earlier, the better.
Attachments of Earnings
An attachment of earnings is an order from the Court. It requires your employer to pay a portion of your wages to us each month. The Court may make a ‘suspended order’, which gives you the opportunity to pay without involving your employer, or a ‘full order’, which then involves your employer.
It is possible, in certain situations, for us to apply to make someone bankrupt in order to recover a debt. We have rarely done this. It’s an absolute last resort, which we would only ever consider in the most extreme circumstances. But, it’s important that you know what the law allows us to do.
If you wish to challenge the demand then you must do this at the court stated on the document within 18 days from the date you were served.
A Statutory Demand is a form we must send to you before we can apply for your bankruptcy. It formally sets out details of the debt you owe us.
We are obliged by insolvency rules to serve you with the petition. You have either made an unacceptable payment offer to us or you have not responded to the Statutory Demand.
We’re obliged by insolvency rules to send you the Statutory Demand before we can apply for your bankruptcy when we present a Bankruptcy Petition.
From the date the Statutory Demand is served, you have 21 days to either repay the debt, make arrangements to secure the debt or agree an instalment plan. If you fail to do this then we can petition (apply), for your bankruptcy.
Service of the Claim Form
You should contact us immediately to discuss the matter or seek independent legal advice.