I usually recover 99% of all debts from solicitors within 2 to 3 weeks usually with interest for which I only charge a small percentage of the amount recovered.

If the firm ignores my demand for payment I always recommend the institution of court proceedings as this invariably produces payment almost by return.

I have encountered difficulties recovering fees from agencies. The solution is to threaten the issue of court proceedings unless payment is made within 7 days and to follow this up with the commencement of court proceedings.

Where I issue proceedings, on an expert’s behalf, I do not usually charge anything unless the case is defended as I am content to accept the scale costs recoverable from the debtor in settlement of my fee.

A problem often exists where joint instructions are submitted. The solution is to require payment of your fee before you issue your report from all of those instructing you or make one firm responsible for the payment of all of your fee and let them chase the other parties for their contribution.

If this is not possible then you should send an acknowledgement letter to each instructing party upon receipt of instructions indicating that you accept instructions from them and notifying them of the amount of your charges. If they are in receipt of such a letter at the outset they are not best placed to argue subsequently that they are not liable for a proportion of your fee.

More firms of solicitors were entered into the assigned risks pool for insurance cover in the last 12 months than ever before. More and more firms of solicitors are ceasing to trade because of market conditions, the lack of work or through being unable to obtain insurance cover. The Law Society requires each firm to have a minimum insurance cover of £2 million. Some firms have a poor claims record and cannot secure cover.

Of those firms in the assigned risks pool approximately one third are ceasing to exist. The insurance industry wishes to abolish this pool as they are obliged to provide cover.

Merely because you are instructed by a firm of solicitors do not assume that they are or will remain financially capable of eventually discharging your account. The credit crunch has hit the profession just as much, if not more so, than other sectors. Thousands of people have been made redundant and others are working part time. I suspect that we have not seen the last of the redundancies.

The secret to debt recovery is not to wait for payment but to be pro-active in its recovery. Your best client is often the one who takes the longest to pay your fees. It is a common misconception that they will think less of you or cease to instruct you where you take action to recover your fee. This is not so in my experience. Those that still refuse to pay when action is taken are not worth retaining as clients. My advice is to let them take their “debt” elsewhere.

If I can be of any assistance in the creation of terms and conditions or the recovery of fees please do not hesitate to contact me. Tom Moore, Moore & Company (01422) 20648.