Firstly with the help of the central AR team, ensure that every effort has been made to engage with the customer either by correspondence or phone. However, if the settlement is not received by the date specified in the final telephone call following the sending out of the final dunning letter, the next step is to investigate the feasibility of legal recovery.
Departments must contact the AR Team to receive full details of the associated costs, feasibility (based on the value and nature of the debt and previous recovery attempts), processes and required documentation. The Department will bear the costs of the legal action.
If the invoice is suitable for pursuing in the Courts, the required documentation will be forwarded for authorisation by the Head of Department prior to being sent to Legal Services.
Legal Services will seek to obtain formal consent to initiate legal action from the Registrary in accordance with Financial Regulations. In all instances where legal action is being considered, the Director of Finance will be notified. The Legal Services Office has an arrangement with a firm of external solicitors which allows uncontested debt claims to be conducted relatively cheaply. If a customer contests the debt, the costs can be considerable, but it may still be worth pursuing for a substantial sum. Any external costs incurred will be charged to the Department, but Legal Services Office will discuss the likely costs with the Department at each stage of the process. This will allow the department to decide if it wishes to proceed or to attempt to settle the matter.
Legal recovery will only be instigated to collect debts in appropriate circumstances where the Department has adhered to financial procedures throughout the credit control process including being:
- Able to prove the debtor was formally made aware of their obligations and the consequences of failing to meet these obligations;
- Able to provide evidence that attempts have been made to discuss repayment of the debt.