One of the main causes of failed companies is cash flow problems caused by late payment.
Some businesses think it is good practice to pay people as late as possible for goods or services delivered under a commercial contract or agreement. This results in time and effort being invested to chase payments which should have been made as a matter of course. Many pay late because they are paid late and this makes matters worse.
Whenever you buy something you are entering in to a contract with the supplier. Essentially the supplier provides the goods or services agreed and you have to pay them. The contract will either directly, or by implication, contain a time frame in which you have to pay. If you don’t pay within that time then you are breaking the contract. Paying on time should be normal, just as sticking to any other aspect of the contract.
In relation to business to business contracts in the UK and the rest of Europe, the law dictates that there are penalties and compensation which has to be paid if goods or services are not paid for on time.
- Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998
- Late Payment of Commercial Debts Regulations 2002
- Late Payment of Commercial Debts Regulations 2013
The penalties and compensation
A fixed fee:
- £40 for debts under £1000,
- £70 for debts under £10,000,
- £100 for debts over £10,000.
- 8% above Bank of England base rate.
Debt recovery costs:
- Reasonable debt recovery costs
Many businesses owners fear antagonising their clients by using the law. However it is a statutory right and its primary aim is to stop companies paying their bills late.
Rather than using it as a last resort when faced with an overdue invoice, the late payment legislation is designed to be used as a deterrent against late payment, and as part of standard business practices and credit management techniques.
In much the same way as a supplier reminds purchasers that payment is due within a specified time limit, the supplier should also remind them that interest and compensation for debt recovery costs will be charged on overdue invoices.
Of course businesses do not have to use the legislation and if they include contractual interest in the agreement, this is payable instead.
Risks for Late Payers
Beside acquiring a reputation as a late or non-payer, claims for interest on late payment do not have to be made straight away (a supplier has six years in which to make a claim, five years in Scotland) as long as trading terms were agreed and the customer was duly notified when interest began to accumulate.
Businesses may still make claims for interest after they have stopped supplying goods or services to a particular purchaser.
The only way for purchasers to be sure of avoiding future claims is to pay bills on time.
Crab Alert – Liquidators and receivers acting in connection with a business can and often do pursue ex-customers for interest on late payments, going back up to six years.
How can Crimson Crab help?
We can help businesses implement a procedure for managing late payments and help with recovery. Please get in touch to find out more.
We also provide a Crab Sheet on Late Payments this is just £10 or free to Reputation Advocates.