Non-payment disputes boost Scottish legal sector

A rise in non-payment disputes is providing rich pickings for the Scottish legal sector, a speaker told the Oatridge Conference.

Gillian Craig, senior associate with commercial law firm MacRoberts LLP, said: "It's going like a fair for us, both in enforcement of contract and debt recovery."

She advised delegates to take pre-emptive action to avoid non-payment and to be aware of how debts can be recovered legally.

"By providing goods or services up-front, you are offering a form of credit, so carry out a credit check," she said. "And take up trade references, though these are of qualified use as no-one will give a bad one. Also look at records lodged with Companies House that are available online. These will show their track records such as compulsory liquidations. Some people have long track records."

Also available online, and for free, legal gazettes show when applications have been made to wind up companies, she said. "You also need clear terms and conditions - yours, not theirs - so get your own standard ones. And produce clear invoices."

FBD Consultancy director Brian Wright told the conference: "If your payment terms are 30 days, then you should be on the phone on day 31. The recession is an excuse used by people who don't want to pay."

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