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Draft Your Letter Before Action

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 6 Jan 2018 |
 
Claim Letter Before Action Court Small

Litigation is intended to be a last resort, so before you lodge proceedings against someone you should always have given them notice that you intend to litigate. This notice is called a ‘letter before action’ and provides the other side with a last chance to pay up or settle a matter before you go to the small claims court.

A lot of people use a solicitor to draft this letter for them, which may cost them about £30. Some people feel that a letter from a solicitor is better than writing a letter themselves, and makes you seem more ‘serious’ about resolving the dispute. If you know how to draft a letter before action yourself then there is probably no need to pay a solicitor to do it.

What Your Letter Before Action Should Include

Your letter before action needs to spell out the following information:

  • Their reference number relating to any correspondence as well as yours
  • The date, clearly marked at the top of the letter
  • What you are claiming for. If it is a specific amount of money, put this at the top of the letter. For example: “Balance owed by you to Joe Bloggs of £500”. Directly underneath this you should then put “URGENT: NOTICE OF INTENDED LEGAL ACTION.”

What Do They Owe You?

In the first paragraph of your letter before action you need to refer to previous correspondence and your prior attempts to settle the matter before. If they have provided you with ‘excuses’ as to why they haven’t paid or admitted liability for the money, refer to these here. List the dates when you sent payment reminders, copy invoices, and any other documentation. Finish this paragraph with: “Despite repeated requests you have failed to pay the amount of (insert amount.)”

When Should Payment Be Received?

The next paragraph should say that the full amount of the debt is now due. Then look at your calendar and set a date by which full payment should be made, preferably in around two weeks time. It can help if you set your deadline for 4pm on a certain date, which gives adequate time for the post to have come. The way to say this is: “Please be advised that if we do not receive payment in full by 4pm Friday 12th April then we will instruct our solicitors to prepare the matter for litigation by issuing a claim in the county court. If this is necessary you should be advised that will add court fees and interest at 8% per annum to the outstanding amount.”

What Will Happen If They Don’t Pay?

You should then explain the consequences of non-payment. “If you do not pay the amount once the claim is issued against you then we will request a county court judgment is recorded against you. This may affect your credit rating for up to six years. Please be advised that we will carry out any and all enforcement procedures necessary to recover the debt in these circumstances.”

The final paragraph gives them a last chance to pay. “In order to avoid the consequences of a county court judgment, and/or enforcement proceedings at a future date, you must arrange the immediate payment of the amount outstanding to us at the above address. Please quote the reference at the top of this letter and make the cheque payable to ‘Insert your name/business name.”

At the very bottom of the page, put this in bold: “Your attention to this matter is required promptly. Please be advised that no further notice will be given.”

What Happens Next?

Hopefully the person who owes you money will read the letter and pay up promptly, but if not you can lodge proceedings at the small claims court. Judges at the small claims court look more favourably at claimants who have exhausted all other options before resorting to litigation.

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the managing agent of our block of flats was informed in writing on 11 August 2016 of dangerous state of balconies to 4th and 5th floors (wood rotting) but failed to deal with issue under nhbc which was due to expire on 30 august 2016.Building Control were informed in april 2017.managing agent has issued s20 consultation late in the day. The freeholder knows of the issue and I believe is in breach of the lease in failing to maintain the block. managing agent did not contact nhbc, the buildings insurer of the builder who remains on site. A surveyor's report dated December 2016 stated the building to be a danger to the residents and others.What action can leaseholders take.
kathy - 6-Jan-18 @ 11:01 AM
marlon - Your Question:
I have Japanese knot weed now growing in my garden after a landlord has left his adjacent garden to become derelict and infested with large amount of Japanese knot weed need to write a letter before action can you help me by telling me what to include or send me a draft template thank you

Our Response:
We cannot send you a draft template of a letter. But you can request the neighbouring landlord pays to sort the matter out. If the knotweed encroaches upon your property, your neighbour is causing a private nuisance and therefore are open to court action.
AboutSmallClaims - 18-Jul-17 @ 2:28 PM
I have Japanese knot weed now growing in my garden after a landlord has left his adjacent garden to become derelict and infested with large amount of Japanese knot weed need to write a letter before action can you help me by telling me what to include or send me a draft template thank you
marlon - 18-Jul-17 @ 11:14 AM
I purchased aset of wedding 'LOVE' display letters for £800 by bank transfer to a guy advertising on ebay in March 16. We collected (a distance of 100 miles). To cut a long story short they were not fit for purpose and we contacted hime to return. He told us he could not afford to refund and he would repair. We left with him (another 100 miles) but later told us they were the first he had made and could not repair them. After months of repeated asking for refund he sent £200 and later asked if we would accept an amount of another £200 as final payment. We accepted as we saw no hope of getting the full amount. More months went over with repeated requests for the money. In Nov 16 he said he would send the money, nothing. Dec 16 said the same, nothing. January 17 same, nothing. Feb 17 he said he would send £50 and could he pay the remaining £150 in installments. Nothing was sent and now after 12 months I have had enought. Can I take hime to small claims and can I sue for the full amount of £800 as he has reneged on his word. many thanks
ellie - 4-Mar-17 @ 6:01 PM
We lent our granddaughter's mother money over the period 2005-2008, after she had split from our son.We have since become estranged from her. She had been repaying the debt by bank transfer into my bank account until last October (2016) when she stopped, without any explanation. I've received no further repayments from her since then. In December, 2016, I sent her a statement, detailing the outstanding amount, but she didn't acknowledge it.On February 8th, 2017, I sent a further copy of the statement, together with a letter, asking her for an explanation for the lapse in repayments and when she would be starting to repay the debt again. I enclosed a stamped, self-addressed envelope which came back today, empty! The amount still owing is over £1000.00 What can I do?
jpm28 - 11-Feb-17 @ 3:53 PM
My child's nursery breached the contract we had with them by putting a picture of our daughter up on their public website. We had various other complaints as well, which they ignored. When we emailed them with our complaints, they wrote back a long rambling defensive email where they threatened us with legal action for complaining! They are a new nursery, less than a year old, and a very amateur operation. Spelling mistakes on the website and everything. They think a nursery is an easy way to make money. We pulled our daughter out when we felt she wasn't safe or happy there. They also 'lost' all her work and observations (we don't think they existed) And even admitted such in an email. We have a lot of evidence against them and sent them a letter of action to recover our fees. They have ignored this, and instead written: we understand you wish you take your child out of the nursery, as a result please pay the next months of fees (£500) as you require a months notice! Ignored the letter of action/claim which detailed all their breaches of contract. What shall we do now?
Parent - 1-Feb-17 @ 2:15 PM
Annmarie - Your Question:
Thank you so much for your response.Yes it is a shame but I will do as advised by giving them one more chance to respond and get a solicitor to draw a letter up.If that does not work, I will consider the small claims route but also consider whether it is worth it financially (court fees etc).Kind regardsAnnmarie

Our Response:
You're welcome. We wish you the best of luck in attempting to resolve your dispute without the court process being involved.
AboutSmallClaims - 16-Sep-16 @ 12:34 PM
Annmarie - Your Question:
Morning allJust wanted to ask if this site is still monitored and if so, do I need to register before my question is answered?Many thanksAnnmarie.

Our Response:
The site is monitored and we try and get to as many questions as we can, but can't guarantee an answer as we have many sites to moderate and maintain. You do not need to register.
AboutSmallClaims - 16-Sep-16 @ 10:01 AM
Thank you so much for your response. Yes it is a shame but I will do as advised by giving them one more chance to respond and get a solicitor to draw a letter up. If that does not work, I will consider the small claims route but also consider whether it is worth it financially (court fees etc). Kind regards Annmarie
Annmarie - 15-Sep-16 @ 4:09 PM
Annmarie - Your Question:
Good afternoonI am at a loss as to why I have got to a 'letter before action' stage of what I thought would be a straightforward repair/exchange or refund on an item bought from an Ebay business seller.I bought a hot and cold water cooler which became faulty 5 months after receiving it but was still under the 12 month guarantee. I contacted them to let them know, no response; after my 2nd message which asked for a repair etc, I received an aggressive response 'telling me off' for daring to mention seeking outside assistance.I then heard nothing so contacted Ebay who said they could not help as it was outside the time frame for a dispute resolution. I then contacted the Consumer Advice team who advised me to send a letter by recorded delivery stating the issue and how it could be resolved. The letter was received and signed for by the shop owner but no response. I went back to the advice team who said to contact the Consumer Ombudsman which I did, filling in their complaint form. I received an email from the Ombudsman to say they contacted the company and did not receive a response so cannot go any further with my complaint.I am so annoyed that these people are getting away with selling sub-standard goods with no-one to answer to. I appreciate we are not talking about a huge amount of money but to me, it is money I cannot afford to lose. Yet, even if I do not get a repair or a refund I want this company taking to task.Any help or advice would be really welcome.Kind regardsAnnmarie.

Our Response:
If you have exhausted all recourse to complain, then you have no option than to take the matter to the small claims court. The advantage for you is that you have given the company ample opportunity to try to rectify the matter and they have ignored every stage of the process. As you say, it's a frustrating option for a matter that could have been resolved easily. A solicitor's letter outlining your proposed action may get the response you desire. If not, then you will have to take the matter to court.
AboutSmallClaims - 15-Sep-16 @ 11:17 AM
Morning all Just wanted to ask if this site is still monitored and if so, do I need to register before my question is answered? Many thanks Annmarie.
Annmarie - 15-Sep-16 @ 10:43 AM
Good afternoon I am at a loss as to why I have got to a 'letter before action' stage of what I thought would be a straightforward repair/exchange or refund on an item bought from an Ebay business seller. I bought a hot and cold water cooler which became faulty 5 months after receiving it but was still under the 12 month guarantee. I contacted them to let them know, no response; after my 2nd message which asked for a repair etc, I received an aggressive response 'telling me off' for daring to mention seeking outside assistance. I then heard nothing so contacted Ebay who said they could not help as it was outside the time frame for a dispute resolution. I then contacted the Consumer Advice team who advised me to send a letter by recorded delivery stating the issue and how it could be resolved. The letter was received and signed for by the shop owner but no response. I went back to the advice team who said to contact the Consumer Ombudsman which I did, filling in their complaint form. I received an email from the Ombudsman to say they contacted the company and did not receive a response so cannot go any further with my complaint. I am so annoyed that these people are getting away with selling sub-standard goods with no-one to answer to. I appreciate we are not talking about a huge amount of money but to me, it is money I cannot afford to lose. Yet, even if I do not get a repair or a refund I want this company taking to task. Any help or advice would be really welcome. Kind regards Annmarie.
Annmarie - 14-Sep-16 @ 2:02 PM
Hello, I'd be very grateful if you could kindly give me some advice on the below. I got married last year and wasn't happy with the service we got from the DJ. A day before my wedding day, I contacted the DJ via phone, putting forward my request of songs to be played at various intervals during my reception party. At the time, the DJ agreed and advised I send him a list of songs via text/whatsapp. I did the necessary and was satisfied with his response at that time. Unfortunately however, the DJ failed to adhere to my requests and failed to play in majority the songs I had requested. For instance, not even one of my requests was played during the cake cutting ceremony or during the starters, mains or dessert. As a client who paid the company full fee prior to the wedding, I feel my rights were somewhat exploited. This is because I was well within my rights to express a degree of personal choice, as it was after all, ‘my wedding day!’ Even though the DJ kept the guests on the dance floor (this he did well) it appeared that he was only interested in the crowd and felt that he knew better when it came to playing my favourite songs. Although he did the majority of his job well by keeping the crowd entertained, I find it crazy to understand how he can get away with this as he didn't fulfil my wishes, which were part of his job. I have e-mailed the manager and left messages but have had no response. I still have the text/whatsapp messages as evidence, but these weren't mentioned in the contract. We had to pay the company in full before the wedding, which my Husband did on his card. Do you think anything can be done? We paid for a big package, which included mood lighting and total amount paid to the company was £4,200. I would like to be compensated for the poor standard of service but have absolutely no idea as to how much I should ask for. I don't want it to be too much or too less. Could you please advise, as I am very confused about this. Thank you for your help.
Nik - 21-Jan-16 @ 4:32 PM
gaurav - Your Question:
I have loaned money to mr.x now he refuse to pay. I have documents like Signed Agreement,employment card and bank passbook I just want to send a letter to him before take any legal action.so what will be the format of letter if you kindly say then help me lot. Thank you

Our Response:
I'm afraid we do not have a letter template. However, all the information in the article is designed to help you write your letter giving pointers on what details need to be included.
AboutSmallClaims - 8-Dec-15 @ 11:11 AM
I have loaned money to mr.x now he refuse to pay. I have documents like Signed Agreement,employment card and bank passbook i just want to send a letter to him before take any legal action..so what will be the format of letter if you kindly say then help me lot. Thank you
gaurav - 7-Dec-15 @ 7:37 AM
Annie - Your Question:
Over the past three year, I have loaned money to a friend while they were unemployed, and when he started a low paid job, helped him out with cash to see him through and pay bills etc. and help support his daughter.He is now gainfully employed, and is earning a decent wage. When I asked what arrangements he is going to make to reimburse me, he informed me he owed me no money it was a gift and doing a favour for a friendThe money was given to him through transfers from my bank to his, and requested generally from text from him and sometimes verbally. Where do I stand legally in getting this money back.Regards

Our Response:
You can only take your friend to the small claims court if you can prove the money was a loan and not a gift. So, if you have been giving him money where he promised in writing to pay you back (this can be texts, emails or via a signed agreement), then you may have a case. However, if the money was given without any prior written agreement and despite having evidence that the money came out of your bank account, then it would be considered a gift and very hard to prove otherwise.
AboutSmallClaims - 21-Oct-15 @ 12:42 PM
Over the past three year, I have loaned money to a friend while they were unemployed, and when he started a low paid job, helped him out with cash to see him through and pay bills etc.. and help support his daughter. He is now gainfully employed, and is earning a decent wage.When I asked what arrangements he is going to make to reimburse me, he informed me he owed me no money it was a gift and doing a favour for a friend The money was given to him through transfers from my bank to his, and requested generally from text from him and sometimes verbally.Where do I stand legally in getting this money back. Regards
Annie - 20-Oct-15 @ 2:18 PM
jjeb - Your Question:
Hi all I have a tenant who owes my over a £1000. in rent and on the 12th of next month it will be £1450. not taking in to account of the state of the house.the tenant will not answer the phone and will not communicate via tex. I have been told by a friend that they are leaving the property and moving into a pub in the same town. my question is, can I take them to court for the rent and the repairs to the property after the have left. I cannot advertise the house as I don't know if the have left or not, and can I claim for a months rent if they have gone.its not possible for me to visit the house as I have a big work load and its a long way from were I live Regards Jjeb

Our Response:
Firstly, most tenancy agreements today are 'Assured Shorthold Tenancies', which allows you as a landlord to repossess the property if a tenant does not pay the rent. Please also see link here for more information on how to claim through the courts. I hope this helps.
AboutSmallClaims - 28-Sep-15 @ 1:00 PM
Hi all I have a tenant who owes my over a £1000. in rent and on the 12th of next month it will be £1450. not taking in to account of the state of the house. the tenant will not answer the phone and will not communicate via tex . I have been told by a friend that they are leaving the property and moving into a pub in the same town. my question is, can i take them to court for the rent and the repairs to the property after the have left. I cannot advertise the house as i don't know if the have left or not, and can i claim for a months rent if they have gone. its not possible for me to visit the house as i have a big work load and its a long way from were i live Regards Jjeb
jjeb - 26-Sep-15 @ 6:38 PM
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