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Taking Legal Action | How an English Company Can Sue a Business Customer in Northern Ireland for an Outstanding Invoice

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Introduction | In the ever-evolving business landscape, companies often face challenges when it comes to resolving outstanding invoices. Sometimes, despite best efforts, disputes arise that necessitate legal action. This blog post explores the process of how an English company can sue a business customer in Northern Ireland for an outstanding invoice. Let’s dive into the key aspects involved in this situation.

  1. Communication and Mediation |

    Before pursuing legal action, it is crucial to attempt communication and negotiation with the business customer in Northern Ireland. Reach out via phone, email, or written correspondence to discuss the outstanding invoice and seek an amicable resolution. Exploring alternative options for settlement can help save both parties time, effort, and legal costs.
  2. Contractual Agreement |

    Review the contractual agreement or terms and conditions established between your English company and the business customer in Northern Ireland. Ensure that the agreement includes relevant information regarding payment terms, interest charges, and any applicable late payment penalties. A clear and well-documented agreement will strengthen your position when pursuing legal action.
  3. Seeking Legal Advice |

    If communication and negotiation fail to resolve the issue, we offer a legal service to review your contract from our sister company, Shergroup Legal.  We will be able to assist you on preparing a claim which can be served on your customer in Northern Ireland.  Our legal team is tasked with handling cross-border disputes and have developed a robust legal strategy which includes a joined-up collections, legal and enforcement process across the four nations of the United Kingdom. 
  4. Jurisdiction and Legal System |

    Determining the appropriate jurisdiction for initiating legal action is important. In this case, as the English company, you can file your claim in the English courts, as Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. However, it is crucial to understand the legal implications, as Northern Ireland has its own distinct legal system, which may require specific considerations when it comes to enforcing the court’s judgment. 
  5. Court Proceedings |

    Once the decision to initiate legal action has been made, our legal team can guide you through the necessary steps including preparing a formal letter of claim, detailing the dispute’s specifics and the desired outcome.  We call this a “Letter Before Action”.  This letter serves as the initial step in commencing court proceedings, providing the business customer in Northern Ireland an opportunity to respond and potentially settle the matter before it escalates to court.
  6. Litigation Process |

    If the business customer in Northern Ireland fails to respond or rejects your claim, the next stage is commencing court proceedings.  Our legal teams will work with you to collate all the information needed to complete the court forms, outlining the claim, and supporting evidence. These documents will be filed with the appropriate English court and served to the business customer in Northern Ireland.
  7. Enforcing a Judgment |

    If the English court rules in your favour and issues a judgment against the business customer in Northern Ireland, you will need to enforce it. Enforcing a judgment in Northern Ireland can be complex due to the jurisdictional differences.  We have partners in Northern Ireland who can assist with enforcing the judgment through the Northern Irish legal system, ensuring the recovery of the outstanding debt.
  8. Looking for an English Connection |

    We will wherever possible look for an address within England and Wales on which to serve proceedings and enforce at that address using a High Court Writ of Control.  We encourage you in your sales and customer application process to ask your customer if they have an English or Welsh trading address, and the names of Solicitors they may use in England and Wales.  These facts become important if it becomes necessary to collect a debt, as we may be able to utilize the information to keep the proceedings within the confines of the English and Welsh courts.  This in turn makes things simpler and less expensive for you. 

Summing Up | We all know that legal action should always be considered a last resort when attempting to resolve disputes over outstanding invoices.

However, if all other avenues have been exhausted, suing a business customer in Northern Ireland as an English company is a logical step.

By following the steps outlined in this blog post and seeking advice from Shergroup Legal, we can help you navigate the process effectively, maximizing your chances of recovering the outstanding invoice amount.

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Last updated | 19 July 2023

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