How a Private Investigator can help serve statutory demands and bankruptcy petitions
When someone owes you money and you’re really struggling to get them to repay it, it can be extremely frustrating. That’s the case whether it’s a few hundred pounds or many thousands. There are always ways to get your money back, providing you can show evidence of the agreement you made with the person who owes you money, but there is often a legal process to follow.
This is particularly true when we’re talking about larger sums of money. If you are struggling with a debtor and you aren’t getting any response to your own communications, you may have to rely on a process that involves sending them a statutory demand, followed by a bankruptcy petition. With both of these documents, it’s extremely important that you can demonstrate they have been received – which is where process serving comes into play.
What is a statutory demand?
A statutory demand is a legally binding document that is sent to either a company or an individual who owes money. This sets out the amount of money owed, and gives the debtor 21 days to reply. That reply could be an agreement to make a payment, or it could be a suggestion of an alternative arrangement – often setting up a repayment plan.
There is a third action available – the debtor can ask for the statutory demand to be ‘set aside’. In this case they are challenging whether the debt is valid – they may believe that they have already paid it, and the debt is an administration error. Or they might argue that they don’t owe you the money for another reason.
If the statutory demand is set aside, the debtor is essentially requesting a court hearing. The demand is placed on hold until a hearing can take place, at which point a judge will decide on whether the money is owed. If it is, they will enforce payment.
What is a bankruptcy petition?
If a debtor ignores a statutory demand, then you’re entitled to serve a bankruptcy petition which would force them to be declared bankrupt. They must owe you more than £5,000 for this to be possible. It doesn’t mean that they are instantly declared bankrupt – this time, you as the creditor is petitioning the court. Your aim is to prove that your debtor, for whatever reason, is unable to pay their debts.
If successful, then the debtor will be declared bankrupt. They will have their assets seized and sold in order to repay you, at least partially, and they will go onto the insolvency register. They may lose their job, depending on their rules of employment.
You cannot serve a bankruptcy petition if you’ve not made reasonable efforts to reclaim the debt through other means, and you must serve a statutory demand first.
Why do they need to be served in person?
It’s important to make sure that both a statutory demand and a bankruptcy petition are served in person, so that you can guarantee that the debtor received them. If you can’t demonstrate evidence that the debtor is aware of the debt and the fact that you are chasing them for repayment, you will have a hard time getting your money back as the case will likely be thrown out of court.
Serving these documents in person shows the courts that the debtor is clearly aware of the debt and has not made any effort to come to an agreement to repay it.
How can a PI help?
This is where a private investigator can be extremely useful. If you know that you need to serve either a statutory demand or a bankruptcy petition to an individual, either you or your solicitor may prefer to use someone experienced in process serving.
Process serving is the defined role of serving legal documents to an individual in a way that abides by all related laws. A private investigator is well versed in what they can and cannot do in order to serve the documents, making sure that you aren’t in trouble when the case does ultimately end up in court.
A private investigator is also useful when it comes to finding a debtor who doesn’t want to be found. Many people, when they owe significant sums of money, actively go into hiding. They may move in with family members or friends, or leave an address suddenly and find a temporary accommodation where they believe they can’t be traced.
However, private investigators are excellent at tracking people down. At EJM Investigations we know our legal boundaries and will abide by those, but we’ll do everything within our power to track down an elusive debtor. We may serve them at home, or at their workplace, or as they travel to a regular spot.
We’ll also make sure that any required signatures or statements to show that the delivery was successful are properly recorded in a way that makes them submissible in court. By using a process server, you might spend more money than simply posting the documents but you can rest assured that the recipient can’t hide from them. Over time, you’ll realise that it’s more cost effective to use a private investigator as a process server as you’re more likely to get paid back the significantly larger sum of money that your debtor owes you.
At EJM Investigations we carry out all kinds of process serving – not just statutory demands and bankruptcy petitions but also divorce papers, non-molestation orders and more. We work with individuals who are involved in the cases on a one-off basis, and we can also work on retainer for a solicitor who deals with a high volume of cases.
So, if you’re looking for a more guaranteed method of delivery when it comes to legal documents, or you’re just someone who wants their money back that someone owes them, give us a call on 01772 334700 to see how our process serving option could help you get those statutory demands or bankruptcy petitions in the right hands.