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Crystal clear debt recovery legal fees

How much will it cost to recover a debt owed to my business?

At Clarke Willmott we have a debt recovery team who regularly act for small to medium sized businesses in the collection of unpaid debts. There are other teams at Clarke Willmott who deal with more complex business disputes that require a more tailored approach. The information set out below is for our debt recovery team. Please see our services pages for our other litigation teams to view the range of other services we offer.

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Our standard debt recovery charges are on a fixed costs basis except for instalment monitoring and defended/complex actions. Our charges and disbursements (including Court fees) will be payable whether or not they can be recovered from the debtor. Where a charge is recoverable from the debtor, we will endeavour to seek payment of that charge as well as interest on the debt.

Full fee details:

Pre-litigation fees

For new clients, we charge a one-off, new client set-up fee of £53+VAT.

We charge a fixed pre-litigation fee of between £44 and £827 plus VAT depending on the value and complexity of the case(s). The fee will always be agreed with you before action is taken.

The pre-litigation fee includes our pre-action protocol compliant letter, pre-legal discussions and advising you of responses received.

Wherever possible, we will claim interest on the debt and late payment compensation on your behalf.


Where the debtor is an individual/sole trader, the initial letter must allow a minimum of 30 days for the debtor to reply.

Where the debtor is a company, the initial letter must allow a minimum of 14 days for the debtor to reply.

It is a requirement of the Court that you endeavour to resolve all issues prior to litigation and accordingly, you may be obliged to allow the debtor additional time to pay or seek advice.

Legal action

We charge fixed fees proportionate to the debt amount. If a defence is received, we will provide a time based fee estimate (see hourly rates below).

Court Fees are subject to change from time to time. The Court fees stated in the tables below are correct as at 1 May 2022.

Our typical charges for legal action are below. If a claim, judgment application, enforcement or insolvency action is particularly complex and we are required to revise our charges from the amounts below we will agree these with you in advance.

On issuing a claim
Debt value Our charge excluding VAT.
(VAT is payable)
Court fee
(VAT not payable)
Up To £299 £110 £35
£300 – £499 £110 £50
£500 – £999 £110 £70
£1,000 – £1,499 £276 £80
£1,500 – £2,999 £276 £115
£3,000 – £4,999 £276 £205
£5,000 – £9,999 £497 £455
£10,000 – £199,999 £827 5% of the claim
£200,000+ £7827 £10,000


Once the Court issues the Claim Form, the debtor has 14 days from the date of service to reply. Where the debtor indicates an intention to defend, this will extend to 28 days from the date of service.

Upon expiry of that period if no defence is received, we will proceed to apply for Judgment.

If a defence is received, the timescales will depend on the particular Court, the value and complexity of the debt. We will keep you advised of progress throughout the case.

On requesting judgment our charge excluding VAT (VAT is payable)
Debt value (including costs and interest claimed) Default of
Default of
proposal accepted
proposal rejected
Up to £4,999 £24 £27 £44 £61
£5,000+ £34 £39 £61 £78

Enforcement action

Enforcement action may be required to recover an outstanding debt after Judgment. If it is, we will advise you on the most appropriate method of enforcement and the costs that will apply.


We are unable to provide a timescale on enforcement action as this will depend on many factors including the Court’s caseload and the debtor’s circumstances.

Enforcement options
Action Our charge excluding VAT (VAT is payable) Court fee (VAT not payable) Other Disbursements
Warrant of Control (instructing a County Court Bailiff) £44 £83
Writ of Control (over £600) (instructing a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO)) £193 £71 Abortive Fee: £75 plus VAT payable to the HCEO if they are unable to recover.
Attachment of Earnings £193 £119
Third Party Debt Order £232 £119 Agent’s fees for attendance at hearing (usually £110 plus VAT).
Information Order £193 £59 Process Server’s Fee (usually £90 plus VAT). Oath Fee: £7.00 (VAT not payable) Agent’s fees for attendance at hearing (usually £110 plus VAT).
Application for substituted service of Information Order £56 £100
Additional hearing fee Information Order £22 N/A
Charging Order £232 £119 £40 Land Registration Fee per property (VAT not payable).

Miscellaneous action

The above charges list our standard fees for debt recovery. There are some situations where action may not follow the standard process and additional work may be needed. Where possible, we will offer you a fixed fee for this. It is not possible to provide an exhaustive list of the situations which can arise, but the list below covers some of the most common.

Miscellaneous action (if required)
Action Our charge excluding VAT (VAT is payable) Court fee (VAT not payable) Other Disbursements
Solicitor service of proceedings £56
Telephone mediation £138
Tomlin order £158
Objection to strike off £56
Application to transfer to Scotland £243 + £72 £108 You will be responsible for the fees and costs of the relevant agent.
Liaising with agents outside of jurisdiction £22 per letter / email
Instructing trace agent £22 Agent’s fee
Land Registry search (England & Wales) £6 per search
Land Registry Fee (Charging Order) £40
Land Registry search (Scotland) £16 per search
Instalment monitoring 10% of each instalment plus VAT.
High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) payments 8% of the payment received plus VAT.


Defended/Complex Actions
Our charge excluding VAT
(VAT is payable)
Hearing Fee
(VAT is not payable)
Agent’s Fee
(VAT is payable)
We will charge an hourly rate (see rates below) but will agree a costs cap with you. Amount Claimed Hearing Fee
Up to £300 £27 Small Claims/Applications £175 – £400 depending upon type of hearing, time allocated and level of agent required.
£300.01 to £500 £59
£500.01 to £1,000 £85
£1,000.01 to £1,500 £123
£1,500.01 to £3,000 £181
£3,000.01 and above £346
Fast Track £545 £430-£1650 for the first day plus £750 for any additional days.
Multi Track £1,175 £1710 for the first day plus £750 for any additional days.

Hourly rates for our Debt Recovery Solicitors

Where hourly rates are charged, they will vary depending upon who is involved in carrying out the work.

Status Hourly rate excluding VAT
(VAT is payable)
Partner £242.00
Technical Director £210.00
Associate £184.00
Team Supervisor £156.00
Caseworker £100.00

Insolvency Action

Below is an overview of our insolvency charges.

Insolvency action
Action Our charge excluding VAT (VAT is payable) Other Disbursements Court fee (VAT not payable)
Statutory Demand £193 Process server’s fee
Preparation of Bankruptcy Petition (if debtor is an individual) £386 Plus filing agent and hearing agent fees Court Fee £302
Official Receiver’s deposit £1500
Company Search Fee £42 plus VAT
Preparation of Winding Up Petition (if debtor is a company / partnership) £497 Plus filing agent and hearing agent fees Court Fee £302
Official Receiver’s deposit £2600
London Gazette fee £73.20 plus VAT
Court fee for Insolvency Action     £302
Official Receiver’s Deposit – Bankruptcy (if debtor is an individual)     £1,500
Official Receiver’s Deposit – Winding Up (if debtor is a company / partnership)     £2,600
London Gazette fee (Winding Up only) (if debtor is a company / partnership) £50 London Gazette fee: £80  
Attendance at Bankruptcy hearings (per hearing) £116    
Attendance at Winding Up Petition hearings (per hearing) £221    
Administration fee for refund of Official Receiver’s Deposit £105    

VAT & disbursements

Our fees and some disbursements are subject to VAT at 20%.

Our fixed fees will increase on 1 May each year. The amount of the increase will be equal to the Retail Price Index at that time (as published by the Office of National Statistics or any successor or replacement government department) or 5%, whichever is lower. Fixed fees are rounded up to the nearest £1.

Contact a debt recovery solicitor

Philip Roberts

Partner and Head of Debt Recovery

Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, London, Manchester, Southampton and Taunton
Phil is a Chartered Legal Executive and Partner in Clarke Willmott’s Debt Recovery team specialising in defended debt recovery litigation and insolvency actions.
View profile for Philip Roberts >

Anna O’Reilly

Team Manager

Anna oversees the set up and workflow for the team’s high-volume contracts and also specialises in the recovery of service charge arrears and ground rent for residential managing agents.
View profile for Anna O’Reilly >

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