Robinson Photography was established in 1983 by Colin and his wife Carole. The plan was to offer a professional wedding photography service in London, however, the direction of the business changed completely following the first booking the business received. Their first customer was a leading London estate agent who was so impressed with the quality of the photographs of his daughter’s wedding that he engaged Colin to photograph properties for his agency. Robinson Photography is now the largest estate agent photography company in London, employing over 40 staff and achieving an annual turnover in excess of £7 million.
Over £19K outstanding
A mid-size multi office agency had been using Robinson Photography for just over three years and during this period the number of days past due that payments were made had slowly increased as the total amount outstanding steadily increased. Already worried about the situation, Colin began the search to find a debt collection agency and contacted Advocate following a tip off from another client that the company was in trouble and by this time the amount owed was £19,520.
Too late for Court action
Once we received Colin’s instruction we started investigating the debtor’s financial position and discovered a string of unsatisfied County Court Judgments totaling £27,563 over the previous 24 months. It was clear the company was in serious financial difficulty, it was also clear that the threat of a Court claim would have no effect and even if a claim was issued and a Judgment was obtained, it would not be paid.
Further investigation showed that while the business was in trouble the directors appeared to be doing all they could to save the company and return it to profit rather than simply allowing the company to enter administration and starting a new company. We found out that the company was operated by 3 brothers, whose father had established the business over 60 years ago.
After explaining the available options to our client it was decided that Insolvency action would be the most appropriate course of action and would offer the best chance of a successful recovery. We instructed our solicitor to issue a 96 hour Notice of Insolvency, stating that the company was insolvent and would be wound up should the debt not be discharged with 4 days. The threat of insolvency is a very powerful weapon in the debt collectors armoury, however care needs to be taken in the use of insolvency action, and you should never threaten to wind up a company unless you are fully prepared to do so should the debt not be paid.
We were contacted within hours of the Insolvency Notice being delivered initially with a proposal to pay the debt in installments over a six month period, this offer was declined by our client. A further call was received later the same day explaining that the directors were arranging for personal funds to be made available to make settlement before the deadline. The very next day a CHAPS payment was received in full payment including late payment and recovery charges.
The power of insolvency action
This successful debt recovery and collection case is a good example of how insolvency action can produce the desired result when Court action is not an option. However, we must again stress that great care is required before pursuing this particular course of action, specifically with regard to disputed cases, if there is even the smallest chance that the debt is disputed, the action could be set aside and you would find yourself responsible for the other parties’ considerable costs.