Help needed r.e. chasing payment


Distinguished Member
I did a job for a lady with two parts to it, first part completed in feb for her alone, second in sept. The second part was split between her and her neighbours as it was paving an entry to both houses. Both jobs were quoted seperately but I told her I'd just invoice her at the end for all the work.

The neighbour has payed for their share of the second job.

The lady in question wrote me a check out a couple of weeks after completion which I deposited. My bank has then returned the cheque to me stating that it had been 'stopped' on the advice slip. (approx £700).

I've tried popping round several times but can't seem to catch her in (she works shifts). I have noticed the curtains have been opened / closed so she's about somewhere. I then wrote her a letter stating that the balance is still outstanding due to the stopped cheque.

Anyway - No reply. So what do I do next? Been self emp for 10 years and can quite honestly say this is the first time this has happened.

Now £300 worth of it was completed in feb, the other £400 is for half of a job (which the other payee has happily paid) and she also had two weeks grace to find fault etc.

I'm guessing I need to start down the path which will enable me to take her to court.

Anyone know what that entails? or has any advice to offer?

(p.s. If it's something sneaky I've probably already thought of it! I'm trying to keep the moral high ground here :))
First step would to avoid court where you can, so you should provide her with reasonable time to correct the situation.

I would write to her, clearly lay out the the outstanding amount and if possible attach a copy of the advice of your bank for the stopped check.

Give her 14 calendar days to settle the outstanding amount, put that in writing in the letter as well. Oh and as some people play dumb in not being able to calculate 14 days (yep ubelievable but true) not just state the duration but also which date that would be. Then also describe what next steps will be taken if the amount is still not settled by that date you will be taking legal steps ultimately resulting in a county court order or popularly known as a county court judgement (ccj).

It pays to stay reasonable throughout so give her the 14 days truly from a day after you posted the letter for example unlike HMRC who always seems to send letter dated 2 weeks ago ;-)

Then in the unfortunately even when she doesn't pay up, start the proceeding on

It is really simple and not that expensive. Hope it helps.


Distinguished Member
Good advice from JP.

Don't forget to mention in your letter that court proceedings will likely jeopardise her credit record & her ability to obtain credit/services in future.

I always used to finish the letter with "Please help us avoid this unpleasant course of action by settling your account promptly". Seemed to work. :smashin:

Oh, & send the letter recorded delivery.
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Novice Member
And point out to her that should you have to go to small claims court she will be responsible for the court costs as well as interest on the outstanding amount on top of the rest.
Good one indeed. It really pays to stay courteous, be reasonable by still giving her plenty of time even though we all know she is taking the mick, and put a couple of sentences in there that scare people like what Crocodile suggested.

It all will work in your favour in the unfortunate event it comes to court.


Well-known Member
Just go round in the middle of the night and dig up her half of the paving.:thumbsup:


Distinguished Member
:D Yes I had thought of that and more! A £700 dent in our Christmas finances is pretty significant especially as the snow has put pay to me earning at the moment.

Thanks everyone for all the replies, combining all your suggestions I should pretty much have the perfect letter. I just hope she cough's up so I don't have to take her to court. I will if I have to though!


I take it you had a contract and its in black and white? including the customers right to cancel?


Senior Moderator
Post 9 and 11 has no real relevance here as it covers different situations. Liability for the payment is a moot point as "phase 2" required paving work which would go onto both properties, thus it has to be assumed for the sake of argument that both home owners sought this work and gave permission for "phase 2" to be completed (otherwise of course this thread makes for strange reading as the lady would be fully entitled to sue for trespass and damage!)

What dejongj is describing is called the letter before claim and the 14 day period is to settle the outstanding sum in full otherwise full proceedings will be commenced. Bear in mind this can be postponed for mediation/negotiation. Retain copies for of any correspondence for your records. Note that issuing a claim form does not prevent settlement and in any case as it would be at least a month (but probably more) before you could hope to see a district judge, there is nothing to prevent a settlement


Sorry Steve I was seeing if when agreed the right to cancel was given as its needed.
This was all I was asking and would like to know if its ok.
I think it has some relevance.

I dont think it matters much about "phases".

If no contract was drawn up, then there could be issues with trying to claim the rest of the monies.

Plus the fact, even if it went to court, if the OP won, he would still only get a few quid a month and even then, thats if she pays it.

If she doesnt that the process starts all over again.

Been there done that wore the t-shirt.;)

By all means, go for it, you never know.


I am just wondering apart from the contract if the work was agreed at their home for example and I guess it was as this applies.

  • The trader MUST give you a written notice of your cancellation rights, including a cancellation form, which explains how you can cancel.
  • If the trader fails to give you this written information he commits a criminal offence and does not have a legal right to demand payment.

While this may seem to be nothing to do with the claim if this has became the case I believe this lady could turn this around and I know TS are hot on this and every quote I give and contract includes the right to cancel.
A criminal offense for not having a written contract or if I read it correct not providing a cancellation form?

If true that is just bureaucracy gone mad. I'm no builder but the law must have changed since the last time I went through this as the lack of a contract was almost irrelevant especially considering the what has happened.
Parrots again :D

It was brought in around 2008 and is common knowledge in the industry as it affects EVERYONE going into a clients home to do work etc, even if they were asked to go round.

Strangely enough, even repair work if over £35 or £45 (i think) must have a contract with costs etc.

It has been brought in alongside the D.S.R.

However, i have still yet to see or even produce one.


A criminal offense for not having a written contract or if I read it correct not providing a cancellation form?

If true that is just bureaucracy gone mad. I'm no builder but the law must have changed since the last time I went through this as the lack of a contract was almost irrelevant especially considering the what has happened.

Many traders miss this and many customers never know their rights.

Bristol City Council: Consumer advice: your right to cancel

I find the same with waste carriers licence. Not one customer has ever checked to see if I am able to remove waste and I always have to show them proof and care of duty form given and copy kept for my records.
I even supply a link to the Environment Agency's site for them to check I'm on the public register.

If this contract was agreed at the property say then claiming money may be hard and the books changed.

This is why I asked the question.
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The customer has nothing to do with whether you are licensed to carry waste as once it is in your van its YOUR responsibility.

5. What is the household duty of care?

The Waste (Household Waste) Duty of Care (England & Wales) Regulations 2005 introduced a new duty on householders on 21 November 2005. Under this duty, householders are required to take reasonable measures to ensure that household waste produced on their property is passed on to an authorised person. There is not a requirement for the householder to complete and retain a written description of the waste (the ‘transfer note).
This should lead to better waste management and help to reduce illegal waste activity such as fly-tipping.
6. What are considered to be "reasonable measures" to comply with the duty of care?

It will be up to the courts to decide what constitutes reasonable measures, although householders are encouraged to make a simple check with the Environment Agency in order to ascertain if the person that they are passing their waste to is a registered waste carrier.
7. What are the penalties for non-compliance with the household duty of care?

If fly-tipped waste is traced back to a particular household, the householders could be fined up to £5000.
However, the ultimate aim is not to fine people, but to ensure that they use registered waste carriers.

So the householder does need to to insure I'm covered and its for their protection too.
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Distinguished Member
I'd knock on the neighbours door and ask if she's still about. I'd also be putting a note through her door letting her know you'll need to talk with the neighbours about non-payment unless the gets in contact with you. Give her the option of paying it off a little at a time if she genuinely has money problems. £100 here or there is better than nothing.


Distinguished Member

A massive thank you to everyone who has offered up advice. Finally got payment yesterday in person. I had to endure keeping a smile on my face while listening to some carbunkle about how me not getting paid had nothing to do with the client blah, blah, blah.

Considering I'd posted her two letters, the second one threatening action I eventually caught her returning to her house and only then she paid me (pending the cheque clearing!)

I've got three work phone numbers, an E-mail address and a postal address but had no communication from her whatsoever. Some people really do take the proverbial.

She even had the cheek to say 'I bet you'll be needing that for Xmas'. I just kept a smile on my face and said 'To be quite honest I don't'.

I can't for the life of me work out what was going on in her head and I really don't care.

Thanks everyone :thumbsup:

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