Non-payments

For the first time in 12 years as a freelance operator it’s happening – I’m taking someone to court over non-payment of an invoice. They insist there’s a misunderstanding of the …

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14th November 2007 at 4:45 pm

For the first time in 12 years as a freelance operator it’s happening – I’m taking someone to court over non-payment of an invoice. They insist there’s a misunderstanding of the original commission, I insist there isn’t – we’ll let due process take place and see who comes out on top. I’ll blog the process if it’s interesting (and yes, I do mean if I lose as well). More detail would be redundant at this stage – the thing’s going to court.

It did lead me to reflect, though, on the different methods people adopt to obtain money they are owed. ‘I happen to be passing your office, can I pick up the cheque’ was a favourite of a colleague of mine; his face fell a bit when it was pointed out that if they were amenable to his dropping by to get a payment, they were probably going to cough up anyway. Actually as a means of keeping contact going with a client it was probably not a bad idea, even if they did end up with the impression he was flat broke all the time. (As a freelance this was almost certainly the case).

My own favourite was Mr. Smelly a few years ago. You might have heard of him and I hope you never met him. The idea was that if you had a late payer you’d hire him, he’d roll around in something appalling and go and sit in reception until the client gave him a cheque to include his expenses. I suspect that’s not entirely legal.

The small claims court – as it’s colloquially known – is a rather drier alternative. The claim has been issued, they’ll receive it probably tomorrow and make their case and we’ll thrash out what’s actually gone wrong. One of us will walk away either relieved at not having to pay or richer, if I win.

Interesting thing, taking people to court – at least for the first time. I’m genuinely convinced I have right on my side; on the other hand I suddenly feel like the bad guy. Odd, that.

Guy Clapperton

Guy Clapperton is a freelance journalist who specialises in small business issues and has written for the likes of The Guardian, the FT and the Daily Mirror. Guy has written about finance and franchising for SmallBizPod. http://www.guyclapperton.co.uk

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  1. […] few missives ago – here to be precise – I said I was taking a client to court for non-payment and would report on it […]

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