Updated: 5th February 2020
A statutory demand is a written demand for payment, and forms a powerful part of the debt recovery process. Often followed by a winding-up petition, it indicates your creditor’s determination to collect their debt, and should not be ignored.
Being unable to recover their money using other means such as reminders and informal negotiation, your creditor may feel that this is the only remaining option.
You need to act quickly on receipt of a statutory demand – there are 21 days to pay the amount owing or arrange a payment plan, and only 18 days in which to challenge it.
The Insolvency Act, 1986, sets out the requirements for issuing a statutory demand. These include:
How it is served is an important part of the process. If not served correctly, there may be grounds to have it set aside. Statutory demands are often served in person by the creditor, a bailiff or other third party, but can also arrive through the post.
A statutory demand will generally precede a petition for winding-up, and with only 21 days to respond, it is a strong incentive for the debtor company to negotiate payment. They are often used by creditors as a last resort, when the amount owing is significant, and do not require the input of a court.
Although the threshold for sending a statutory demand to a company is £750, creditors often use them to recover larger amounts. HMRC are known to use this method because no court procedure is involved, and debts can be recovered quickly.
Taking action quickly will give you the best chance of successfully dealing with the situation, and seeking professional advice on how to proceed will help you understand all your options.
Initially, however, you should make sure the amount demanded is correct, that the debt is not in dispute, and that it has been served in the proper manner. If there is no possibility of paying the money in full, you may be able to successfully negotiate an affordable repayment plan.
Ignoring a statutory demand will have serious ramifications – this is a potential timeline of events if you fail to respond:
If informal negotiations with your creditor have failed, you may be eligible to enter a Company Voluntary Arrangement, or CVA. This is a formal insolvency option, and can help you pay this, and other company debts, without losing control of day-to-day operations as a director.
This is assuming there are no grounds to dispute the demand. Again, a financial expert will be able to identify any anomalies, and act to set it aside if appropriate. Setting aside means applying to the court to have it cancelled.
The format and delivery method used by your creditor is specified by the Insolvency Act, and errors can be used as the basis for setting aside. Statutory Demand Form 4.1 must be used for a limited company debtor. It has to be delivered to the registered address by hand or registered post, and signed for by an officer of the company.
In all stages of this process, from the day you receive a statutory demand, seeking professional help should be a priority. Events take place very quickly, but we have vast experience of assisting company directors in this situation.
Real Business Rescue will quickly establish the legitimacy of the demand, and help you take action to set it aside, or negotiate the most appropriate type of arrangement to pay in affordable instalments.
Our extensive office network comprises 77 offices across the UK with a partner-led service offering immediate director advice and support.