Estranged daughter takes disinheritance to appeal

An estranged daughter who eloped at 17 and was disinherited is challenging her mother’s will in the Court of Appeal.

The Court will be considering the difficult question of whether an able bodied adult should be entitled to expect any provision from the estate of a deceased parent.

It’s a case that challenges the long standing principle of English law which allows you to leave your money to whoever you like, however unreasonable or perverse your decision may be.

When Melita Jackson made a will in 2002, leaving the whole of her estate to three charities, the Blue Cross, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, she wrote to her daughter Heather Illot, explaining that she was leaving her nothing, because she had eloped at the age of 17 and there had been little contact since.

When Mrs Jackson died in 2004, Heather was aged 50 with five children, two of whom were still under 18. She had no earning capacity or prospects and no pension arrangements, and she applied to the Court for a payout from the estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

This Act allows certain people, for example widows, widowers and children, in certain circumstances to apply to the Courts for an order for “reasonable financial provision” if they can show that they do not have adequate provision through the will of the person who has died, or, if the person left no will, through the intestacy rules.

It has long been assumed that an adult child applying under the Inheritance Act will have to show some kind of dependency, disability, or other special circumstances if they are to succeed in their claim, but when the case went to the County Court, the judge awarded £50,000 to Mrs Ilott from the estate.

But the charities named in the will then appealed to the High Court, which over-ruled that decision. As a result, Heather Ilott is now appealing to the Court of Appeal.

Said wills expert Hardeep Nijher, Solicitor at Breeze & Wyles Solicitors LLP: “At the heart of this case is the long standing principle that you can leave your money to whoever you like under English law, however unfair it may seem to some of your nearest and dearest.

“Even though the Inheritance Act opened a door for dependent children or spouses who could show a will had been unreasonable, that principal of freedom of choice is still a core value in deciding who should inherit.

“If Mrs Ilott’s award were allowed to stand, it would set a precedent that an able-bodied, adult child is entitled to provision under the Inheritance Act, and that could lead to a flood of wills being contested by disinherited children. Even though the sum involved in this case is relatively small, charities are going to be prepared to fight to prevent what would be a dangerous precedent for them, as they are very likely to be the beneficiaries where children are disinherited.”

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.


Europe to tighten Sanctions on late payers

  • This article is aimed at those people managing Small to Medium Enterprise credit control teams.

    The European Parliament is quoted as saying on 5 October 2010:

    "Smaller companies all too often endure severe financial problems due to the late payment of bills. For over a year the European Parliament has pushed to secure stricter and clear-cut rules on payment periods, including a general 30-day deadline. On Tuesday, the Internal Market Committee voted to endorse the deal struck with Council on 13 September."

    Barbara Wieler is also quoted as saying:

    "This legislation will bring about a new ethics of payment in Europe. The new rules will provide better solvency and allow small and medium-sized companies the opportunity to promote more innovation and jobs"

    The current legislation provides for compensation in addition to interest per unpaid invoice. This Directive, still requiring formal approval by the European Parliament adds further rules on payment terms:

    The new rules

  • Business-to-business - 30-day general deadline unless nothing else is stated in the
    contract. If both parties agree, it is possible to go up to 60 days. The payment period
    may be extended beyond 60 days only if "expressly agreed" by the creditor and the
    debtor in the contract and provided that it this not "grossly unfair to the creditor".
  • Public-to-business: - 30-day general deadline. Parliament fought hard to ensure that
    payment can never be delayed beyond 60 days and that a special justification is necessary
    for any extension of the payment period (it needs to be "expressly agreed" and
    "objectively justified").
  • Exemption for public entities providing health care - Member states may choose
    a deadline up to 60 days. This is because of the special nature of bodies such as public
    hospitals, which are largely funded through reimbursements under social security systems.
  • Interest rate and compensation-Parliament pushed Council to accept a statutory
    interest rate of the reference rate plus at least 8%. The creditor is entitled to obtain from
    the debtor, as a minimum, a fixed sum of €40, as compensation for recovery costs.
  • Verification period -The verification period for ascertaining that the goods or services
    comply with the contract terms is set at 30 days. This period may be extended in the
    case of particularly complex contracts, but only if expressly agreed and provided it is
    not grossly unfair to the creditor. Parliament secured an undertaking that verification
    periods may not be used as a loophole to delay payment unnecessarily.

It is likely that the Council will approve these rules in readiness for implementation into the laws of member states.

Commercial Litigator Maria Koureas-Jones said:

"The final version of the Directive should have a positive impact on the payment processes of larger businesses ensuring that the current drip feed and delays are penalised."

If you have any debt recovery issues please contact brendan.obrien@breezeandwyles.co.uk or maria.koureas-jones@breezeandwyles.co.uk


Strategies for Growth and Banking Reform announced today

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills has made a number of announcements today. Some are extremely high profile including on Banking Reform. Others are less well publicised but are welcome in this period of economic uncertainty such as a statement entitled 'Trade and Investment to drive growth' or 'New Support for Exporters'.

If you wish to view these announcements click on the following links:

http://nds.coi.gov.uk/content


CAUTION: Bribery Act delayed but business should take note

Business needs to buckle up its processes to protect against the forthcoming Bribery Act which will create the toughest anti-corruption regime in the world.

The Bribery Act 2010 became law in April 2010, and was due to come into force in April 2011 but following lobbying from business organisations and others, has been set back for a second time.

The Act is intended to up-date and rationalise Britain’s law on the subject. Britain’s track record for tackling corruption is poor, and the decision not to prosecute British Aerospace over alleged bribery in the Middle East was called a scandal by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The country is bound by international treaty to tighten its anti-corruption laws and the Bribery Act will introduce one of the toughest regimes in the world.
The Government has now said it expects to defer implementation until later in the year, but companies are being urged to act to get procedures in place as, according to experts, the legislation is unlikely to be significantly amended at this stage.
The Act creates four offences. The first three are committed by individuals, the fourth can only be committed by a business, whether a company or partnership:
· Paying bribes: it will be an offence to give or offer someone an incentive with a view to inducing them to act improperly
· Receiving bribes: it will be an offence to receive an incentive with the intention of acting improperly as a result
· Bribery of foreign officials: it will be an offence to give a foreign public official an incentive with the intention of influencing the official and obtaining business as a result
· Failure to prevent bribery: a commercial organisation will be guilty of an offence if a person connected with that organisation (including employees, subsidiaries, and agents) commits one of the individual bribery offences above; unless the organisation can show that it has adequate procedures in place to prevent bribes being paid.
The legislation is controversial in that it might make a company criminally liable for actions it knew nothing about. However, in those circumstances, it is not the bribery that would give rise to guilt, but rather the lack of adequate anti-bribery procedures.
The Department of Justice has issued draft guidance on the expected procedures, and recommends a six-step approach by companies:
· Risk assessment: every business should undertake a review of all its activities in order to identify where a risk of bribery may arise
· Top level commitment to eradicating a culture of bribery: the board of directors, or its equivalent, should take responsibility for establishing a culture within which corruption is eradicated; a senior officer should be directly responsible for overseeing the anti-corruption programme
· Due diligence: an assessment should be carried out before entering into any major business relationship or project
· Clear policies and procedures: procurement and contract management procedures should be put in place to minimise the opportunity for corruption and to clarify the approach that those responsible should take when negotiating contracts. There should also be a clear policy on gifts and entertainment
· Effective implementation: the anti bribery and corruption policy must publicise to all employees and it must be spelt out in contracts of employment and when new employees are inducted into the company. Financial controls should be put in place to minimise the risk of bribery. Disciplinary measures must be spelt out
· Monitoring and review: there must be a whistle-blowing procedure to enable employees to report suspicions of corruption in confidence. Whistle blowing should be encouraged as part of the anti-corruption culture .
Another area of controversy is how the new legislation applies to corporate hospitality. There has been much speculation in the press about sponsors leaving Formula One and that corporate golf days may no longer be legal. Business organisations have challenged the Government to clarify on when corporate hospitality will cease to be legitimate and become bribery.
The matter was discussed in Parliament, but nothing conclusive came out of it. In a letter clarifying the Government’s intentions Lord Tunnicliffe, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice, commented that corporate hospitality is an accepted part of modern business practice but that lavish hospitality could amount to bribery. He quotes the director of the Serious Fraud Office as saying that “most routine and inexpensive hospitality” would be unlikely to cause the recipient to act improperly and so would not be an offence.
Said Brendan O'Brien, corporate law expert with Breeze & Wyles Solicitors LLP:
“This legislation is certainly needed; the OECD have been complaining about our reluctance to bring in proper anti-corruption legislation since 1997. But we also desperately need clarification on areas like corporate hospitality. Terms such as “routine” and “reasonable” and “inexpensive” are all relative.
“And if anyone thinks that the Act only concerns multi-nationals like BAE, they should remember that just about every business in the country, from the new start-up to the largest plc, provides clients with entertainment or gifts from biros to boxes at Old Trafford. From the work we’re doing to develop processes with clients, it’s clear that many smaller business clients simply hadn’t realised it will affect them.”
Following the change of Government last year, the original October 2010 implementation was deferred by Justice Secretary Ken Clarke. This was to allow for a further period of consultation following the publication of the draft guidance and the results were due to be published in January 2011, although nothing has been published and implementation is expected to be deferred. But although the Bribery Act was passed in the dying days of the last Government, it had the full support of both the Conservatives and the Lib Dems, so the Act itself is unlikely to be amended.
Web site content note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

BIS announces new plans for Business regulation

Business Minister Mark Prisk today outlined plans for streamlining and improving how regulators deal with businesses, following a six month review of the Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO).
The proposals mean that LBRO will be replaced by a new organisation that builds on the expertise of LBRO’s staff and continues the expansion of the Primary Authority scheme, but is part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
The new organisation will work closely with local enterprise partnerships across the country to find the best way to tackle red-tape at a local level and share this knowledge. It will also promote the Primary Authority scheme as a way to improve consistency in regulatory enforcement, reduce bureaucracy and create the right conditions for economic growth.
This streamlined approach will also give a renewed focus on improving the way that regulations impact at the front line. The new organisation will work closely with the Better Regulation Executive, the Regulatory Policy Committee and national regulators to ensure there is a more joined-up approach on regulation and enforcement from across Government.
Business Minister Mark Prisk said:
“The endless rules and regulations that pour out from Government has choked off enterprise and stifled economic growth for far too long.
“Businesses, local enterprise partnerships and regulators have to work together to tackle local bureaucracy and find a solution that works for everyone. This new organisation will be the driving force to make sure that happens.
“That way we are freeing businesses to concentrate on what matters; strong local economic growth that is not restrained by red tape.”
In order to retain the crucial independence and technical expertise of LBRO, the new organisation will have special governance arrangements and a number of interested groups will be invited to form a steering group for the new organisation. This will make sure that it is accountable and relevant to the businesses and the regulators that it serves, while also improving the accountability of the new organisation.
The results of the review have also been welcomed by the Welsh Assembly Government which has been pleased to support the work of LBRO in Wales to date. These proposals will mean continuity for further work to secure efficiency and innovation within the public sector in Wales, benefiting both citizens and businesses.

The Business Start Up: Why do I need Intellectual Property Advice?

The protection of intellectual property is an essential part of ensuring the success of any business, so it is essential that a business owner gets it right. Mistakes can be costly and a drain on the resources of the business.

Assume that you start a business and invest your own money and time into it, developing the business’s reputation. Six months later you are very pleased with the progress of the products you sell. As a result you have now invested heavily in creating a brand and producing significant amounts of marketing literature, when you are about to grow the business, you receive a letter requesting firmly that you stop using your business name, commonly known as a ‘cease and desist’ letter from a disgruntled third party who believes that the business name you have chosen breaches their Trade Mark.

What do you do next? It is likely that you will need to take legal advice. You certainly don’t want to cave in to the request without at least reviewing the strength of the potential case against you. You place the marketing and growth campaign on hold whilst you investigate the position, thereby losing the benefit of the campaign that you have built and for which you have probably paid. As a result of the costly legal advice you:

(1) Take the advice, bin the literature and start again;

(2) Ignore the advice and proceed despite the threat;

(3) Take the advice and start again but this time you combine the marketing advice with legal advice to ensure that this does not happen again.

Whatever, the choice significant money and time has been lost or in the case of (2) potentially will be (and in this case the potential for damages to be awarded against you).

How can this be avoided?

The combination provided by option three should be pursued when financing will allow to ensure that this situation does not occur.

In a world where the number of names capable of being used is diminishing rapidly every time a new business starts the list of names where breach is unlikely reduces again. Make sure you brand carefully, you may have the greatest business idea, but without proper planning it will die in its infancy without the right advice.

Contact me on Brendan.obrien@breezeplus.co.uk or 01992 558411


Mergers and Acquisitions: the due diligence process

Buying a company is a difficult, but potentially rewarding process, which may take days or weeks depending on the complexity of the company structure. This is not entirely dependent on the price being paid. Because buying a company will involve investing a significant amount of money and time, it is essential that the purchaser gathers enough information about the company to ensure that following purchase there are no nasty surprises. This process is commonly referred to as conducting due diligence.
In most company purchases, the purchaser will want to learn everything possible about that company before signing the purchase agreement. Alternatively, if there isn't time to do that, then the purchaser will want to make sure that the representations of the vendor concerning the company are quite comprehensive and that the definitive agreement allows him to back out of the deal if the due diligence done after signing the agreement is not satisfactory. However, the latter process is not really desirable to either party. The damage to the company by the change of leadership or a potential leadership vacuum is likely to be permanent.
Why do due diligence?
Conducting proper due diligence will help the purchaser to avoid the following problems:
· Discovering that the purchase price of the business is too high
· Misunderstandings as to the type and condition of the company being bought
· Bad financial situations
· Bad management
· Pending litigation
· Contingent liabilities
· Situations likely to lead to increased tax burden
And indeed to fully understand what it is that the purchaser are buying. The purchaser’s ability to run the company post purchase needs to be informed and this is in part done through the due diligence process.
What are warranties?
Warranties are statements made by the vendor to the purchaser regarding the status of the company and the existence of any issues that may be of concern to the purchaser. The purchase agreement will contain a schedule of warranties covering almost all parts of the company’s business. The warranties usually include statements about the following items (but others will be included where particular to the company or industry):
· Vendors ability to sell
· Accounts
· Employees
· Property
· Litigation
· Pensions
· Insurance
· Tax
· Environment
· Regulatory matters
If after completion it transpires that a warranty untrue, a purchaser may have a claim for damages for the loss it has suffered. However, litigation is a destructive process and should be avoided wherever possible. As a result warranties are not a substitute for detailed and in-depth due diligence. In effect the warranties deal with those items drawn out by the due diligence that are key to the purchaser in the purchase of the company.
To avoid the warranties becoming extremely complicated and lengthy, a vendor will qualify those warranties in a separate document known as the Disclosure Letter. Where disclosures reveal a liability that the purchaser would assume they can request an indemnity from the vendor in respect of that liability.
What are indemnities?
Indemnities are promises made by a vendor to meet a specific potential legal liability which a purchaser may incur following an acquisition. An indemnity would entitle the purchaser to a payment if the event giving rise to the indemnity takes place.
It is important to be aware of the difference between a warranty and an indemnity. A warranty is a contractual statement made by the vendor regarding the state of the target company and an indemnity is a promise to indemnify, i.e. to reimburse the purchaser in respect of a specific liability if it arises.
Limiting the Vendor's exposure
The problem with these items is that the vendor’s exposure to warranty and indemnity claims is unlimited. That is not a reflection of a fair position. The company is an asset and the company either has value or it does not. If in the worst possible situation the company has no value that the Vendor should have been paid nothing for it. This scenario informs the process of limitation of liability. The Vendor’s exposure to these claims should be no more than what he was paid for it.
Allowing Purchaser sufficient information
The Purchaser must use the exercise to create an understanding of thecultural issues in the target and the requirements for integration. It is often the case that transaction fail because of some significant issue raised in the due diligence process but there is very little failure as a result of the challengess presented by culture to integration. Purchasers need to take more heed of these issues rather than treating the purchase of the target as a trophy.

Mergers and Acquisitions: the current environment

For 18 months or so acquisition activity has been dormant as shareholders have been reluctant to sell on the basis of valuations that reflect the current economic climate, believing whether rightly or wrongly that shareholder value will return in the ensuing upswing. While it is important to note that the upswing is only just beginning and that there are very real risks that there may be further pain to come if the press talk us into a 'double dip', some purchasers are now entering the market. However, the days of setting a price and paying it at completion are for the time being things of the past. Indeed the valuation process is now part of the consideration process with the purchaser utilising consideration tools in a transparent manner that were previously part of the hidden process of valuation and that places the risk of underlying asset valuation together with goodwill on the seller. For instance, a purchase price can be a mix of : -
1. Cash payment up front (which will normally be a much smaller amount than previously);
2. Underlying (non-goodwill) assets paid after completion based on agreed completion accounts;
3. Quasi-Goodwill payments calculated by way of earnout (particularly relevant in an owner managed business) subject to maximum period and payment.
The process of creation of the Heads of Terms it a much longer process than it was. Purchasers are now specific about the calculation of the amount that they are prepared to pay to the seller for the company and its business. Moreover, the seller will try to fight their corner to ensure that they get best value for the work that they have put in over the years to create what is being sold.
The difficulty with a calculation of the underlying assets is the basis upon which the agreed form will take such as management accounts versus UK GAAP. The solicitors and accountants may have little control over the production of the Heads of Terms and therefore are left with a document that informs the legal documents and leaves the seller exposed to greater risks based on a lack of understanding. Whilst this is of little concern in most cases the introduction of the wrong word into the Heads of Terms can prove extremely costly as it may extend the negotiation thereby increasing the negotiations involved or indeed leading to a collapse of the acquisition process. Additionally, simple items such as debt provision where a business owner could quite correctly apply a process of bad debt provision in the knowledge that those debts greater than 90 days will still get paid (and need not be provided for) and provide for others less than 90 days that certainly won't get paid. This may be at odds with the Purchasers process where they may wish to calculate bad debt provisions on 90 days plus. In this case, the negotiations may have to focus on individual debts which leads to protracted discussions.
As regards Earnout, a wordy description in the Head of Terms is sometimes unhelpful. Almost invariably this can only really be described by way of a spreadsheet setting out certain scenarios. The Seller is taking a risk in following an original draft because it will often be wrong. The Seller should have protections by way of a right to be passed full and detailed information on process and perhaps even involvement on an ongoing basis with the Company's Customers. This is often acheieved by a short term conultancy agreement which in most cases is to the benefit of the Purchaser as there is a seamless hand over in respect of the business processes. Quite often the Seller is seen as integral to the business by its customers and where that person disappears from the scene this can have a negative effect on the trading position of the Company and its business.
Taken together the seller and purchaser are best advised to take advice on the Heads of Terms prior to them being signed to ensure that any grey area in the HOTs is expanded upon so that the process of agreement drafting doesn't become a continuing negotiation.
In the current market the Seller is taking some of the risk of the future performance of the Company and its business but in the current climate this is only to be expected. To ensure that the Seller and Purchaser know what they are transacting it is essential that they take the appropriate legal and accountancy advice.
In the next blog I will explain the process of Due Diligence, Warranties and Disclosure.

Mergers and Acquisitions: An Introduction

An Introduction to Mergers and Acquisitions
I have been asked by some of my clients and contacts to present a number of articles as an overview of mergers and acquisitions. In this blog I will introduce a number of the terms applying to Mergers and Acquisitions and explain why M&As happen. In the last section, I will explain the process and the methodology to make it pay.
Mergers & Acquisitions: Any Difference?
Many people think they are the same but there is a theoretical difference.
Acquisition: this occurs where one company takes over another and established itself as the new owner.
Merger: this occurs when two companies agree to amalgamate as a single new company.
In merger transactions, one party more often than not is the dominant force in the end result or through the transaction. Most onlookers see that this control has passed from a junior organisation to a senior one and accordingly from the outside world most mergers are seen as ‘acquisitions’ by reaching a conclusion based on this control. However, perhaps this is not the right question. The only real question is whether the transaction gives rise to a stronger entity post transaction.
What are the types of Mergers and Acquisitions
Horizontal – means acquisitions in the same industry between companies having the same or similar products, technologies and markets. This type of acquisition leads to a concentration of assets in the same industry and is a faster method (and potentially cheaper) to increase market share rather than the longer process of organic growth.Vertical – means acquisitions between companies involved in different parts of the supply chain enabling among other examples for manufacturers to deliver straight to market or where the manufacturer wishes to take control of the raw material production for its processes.Conglomerate – acquisitions between companies with different products and markets together with no special technology relationships. This is a type of transaction that occurred more frequently in the 1960s in the US when Profit/Earnings ratios were a key driver to the transaction.
Friendly/Hostile
Until the 1980s transactions were invariably ‘Friendly’ with the Boards of both companies being broadly in agreement with each other as to the terms of the agreement for acquisition. In these terms the process would be better prepared since the basis of the agreement presented would be more detailed and the shareholders of both companies would have the opportunity to approve the eventual outcome.
In the 1980s with increased competition between Investment Banks for M&A transactions and the related fees a number of the Banks agreed to advise on hostile transactions. This is where the Board of the target company (the company being purchased) does not agree to the terms. The Investment Banks make more money from these transactions because of the risks and advice involved.
Why merge or acquire?
The process of acquisition is expensive and takes a lot of resources from both companies whether the acquisition is successful or not. As a result it is important that the key drivers for the acquisition are achieved whilst giving the exiting shareholders, where cash is to be paid the appropriate value for the shares.
Evidence from history suggests that only 40% of transaction add value to the acquiring company with 60% reducing the value of the final product. This is a serious issue because the amounts spent both in cash and resources to achieve the outcome more often than not deteriorate the value of the amalgamation. Hostile takeovers tend to have an inflating impact on the price paid prejudicing the benefit of the key drivers. Post each recession business managers have stated that they will not make the same mistakes as previously but because of pressures to grow, the mistake of continuing a transaction where the price required to conclude a transaction has exceeded the benefit, the managers continue to proceed. An example of which is the recent Royal Bank of Scotland purchase of ABN Amro.
The key drivers for acquisition are:
Synergy.
Economies of scale.
Increased revenue and market share.
Cross-selling.
Diversification.
Acquiring unique capabilities and resources.
International Expansion..
It must be remembered that in 40% of acquisitions the above drivers add value to the acquisitive company. By way of caution M&A work is here to stay but a prudent approach to it must be the focus to the transaction.

How should your business keep the cash flowing?

In times when profits are being squeezed, cash flow becomes all the more important, especially to small, owner-managed businesses.

But while the supplier-business is trying to get its invoices paid as quickly as possible, the customer is trying to pay as late as possible. It’s a state of tension that leaves many businesses worrying how to make sure invoices are paid promptly but at the same time retaining its customers by keeping them on-side.

“It comes down to making sure that problems don’t arise,” says commercial law expert Maria Koureas-Jones of Breeze & Wyles Solicitors. “This means clear, fair and reasonable terms of business and taking care to make sure that the customer knows them. The customer must also be clear about the price. And if the charge or fee is based on time, the supplier must keep customers informed of time spent and reminded of what that means in terms of cash. It’s worth looking at interim billing as well, as it helps both the supplier’s cash flow and avoids a large debt building up for the customer.”

For many businesses, getting bills paid on time is a mixture of carrot and stick, so it is important that the terms of business contain sanctions for late payment by providing for reasonable compensation and interest on the debt.

Other top tips from Maria include:

· Invoices should be delivered promptly; an invoice delivered a month or more after the work is completed or the goods are supplied can simply cause irritation.

· The invoice should state when it is due for payment: the customer’s accounts department cannot be expected to be familiar with the supplier’s terms of business.

· If the invoice is not paid on the due date, an efficient credit control system must kick in and must operate like clockwork. Credit control should not start with aggressive threats; too much aggression too early may undermine good relations with the customer and be counter-productive. Start with a gentle reminder and move up through the gears.

· If the invoice remains unpaid the creditor should not take any action without first running a credit control check on the debtor; there is no point in wasting time and money chasing someone who is insolvent.

· If the debtor is solvent but is likely to defend the claim, the creditor should see a solicitor at this stage to discuss the options. These might include court action or mediation.

· If the claim is simple and is unlikely to be defended, a creditor might consider a do-it-yourself approach either in the traditional way through the small claims courts or online at http://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/

· And finally, when chasing another business or a public sector body for payment, the creditor has a statutory right to interest and compensation, even if their terms of business say nothing. Under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998, interest is payable on debts that are not paid within 30 days of the due date at 8% above the Bank of England base rate. In addition, compensation is payable on a scale from £40 for debts under £100 to £100 for debts of £10000 or more.

Added Maria: “Credit control starts with clear, fair and reasonable terms of business that provide effective tools for enforcement. They are the foundation of good customer relations and should be given the priority they deserve. But they also need reviewing on a regular basis, as both business and the law change. An expert can ensure that they are unambiguous and will achieve the desired result.”

Ref: Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998