Birkett Long Debt Recovery is one department of Birkett Long Solicitors in the UK. They are different from most debt collection agencies because they are a professional legal team.
Receiving a letter or call from any debt collection group can make you feel sick, anxious and affect other aspects of your life. Whether you owe the debt or believe there has been a glaring mistake, the most important thing is that you take action.
This article will tell you exactly what to do if you have received a Birkett Long debt recovery letter. Learn the legal process and your rights here. You might not have to pay a penny back at all!
Are Birkett Long Solicitors a Scam?
No, Birkett Long is a legal group of solicitors that offer an array of services. They have multiple offices in the UK, including:
- Birkett Long Chelmsford
- Birkett Long Colchester
- Birkett Long London
- Birkett Long Basildon
They help clients with the legalities of many tasks, including but not limited to property purchases, will writing, intellectual property, and as you may have guessed by now – debt recovery.
You can find their website here.
Their team works on behalf of small and large commercial businesses to recoup any debts owed. The following passage was taken from their debt services page:
“We act for small and large commercial enterprises recovering their debts and we provide proactive advice on how to improve their credit control.”
How Will Birkett Long Solicitors Contact You?
When the Birkett Long debt recovery department gets in touch, it will almost certainly be via a debt notification letter.
We can say this with confidence because their website relays the debt collection process to their clients on their website. They state that they send a letter to notify the individual or business about the debt they owe, also known as a Letter Before Action (LBA).
The Content of a Birkett Long Debt Letter
Some debt collection agencies will send a debt notification letter without any proof that you owe the debt. They do this either because they want to test their luck and see if you will pay without questioning it (usually out of fear) or because they are sending the same letter to people with the same names (and thus it is a mistake for most).
However, Birkett Long Solicitors are a legal company, not a debt collection agency without any legal background. Birkett Long already understand that if they send a debt letter without evidence, you can reply with a letter requesting proof.
A “prove the debt letter” is useful if they do not provide proof of the debt as it will make their claim inadequate or it could simply give you more time to assess your options (even if you are already aware of the debt they are referring to).
But it is highly unlikely that a team of legal professionals will try to recoup debt without evidence that you owe it from their client. They know the process and do not want to cause delays for their clients.
On their website, they specifically ask clients to gather evidence of the debt, such as signed agreements, at the first stage. And they urge clients to contact them to ask what evidence they need to provide.
The bottom line is that receiving an initial debt letter from Birkett Long Debt Recovery is highly likely to include evidence that you owe the debt, but if it does not, always send a prove the debt letter straight away.
Know Your Rights when Dealing with Birkett Long Debt Recovery
Birkett Long and other companies who offer debt collections services must abide by strict rules set forth by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). If they do not follow these rules, you can make an official complaint.
Birkett Long do not want to be reported because it could result in severe punishments. This is why they are likely to abide by the regulations and take your specific requests seriously. For example, they must:
- Not divulge your debt to other people
- Not contact you at work without permission
- Not try to enter your home claiming to be bailiffs
- Respect your request to be contacted in a certain way or at specific times of the day
- Clarify terms that you cannot understand
- Not make repeated calls or pressure you to make a decision
- Not threaten court proceedings if they know they are not a realistically going to happen
Violations of the above could be classed as harassment. You can discover what counts as harassment by creditors in this guide by Citizens Advice.
If you believe Birkett Long Debt Recovery has acted illegally, you should report them to the FCA.
Birkett Long Proved the Debt, What Next?
If you have received a letter from Birkett Long Solicitors with proof of the debt, you must take action.
The debt will not go away if you ignore it and Birkett Long could issue court proceedings. If they do, this could result in enforcement agents seizing possession of your items to repay the debt or even taking money from your monthly salary.
But do not panic. These events will not happen if you open dialogue with Birkett Long and arrange to repay the debt in instalments. Remember that Birkett Long also must give you some time to assess your options.
Most of the time, Birkett Long and their clients are not expecting to receive 100% of the debt in one payment. It is in their own interest to mutually agree on a payment plan to pay off the debt with you, without putting yourself in financial hardship.
But before you call them or explore your other debt solution options, there may be a way that you do not have to repay the debt at all…
Some Debts Do NOT Have to Be Repaid!
The Limitation Act 1980 states that any debt which began six years ago or longer may not be enforceable by the courts. It was a legislation that was introduced so that the courts would not become too busy.
However, there are a number of extra criteria that must be met for the debt to not be enforceable, officially known as Statute Barred.
The debt must be at least six years old and:
- No CCJ – Birkett Long or the creditor must not have issued a County Court Judgement (CCJ) for the debt, i.e. they must not have started court proceedings.
- No Recent Repayments – you must not have made any payments towards the debt in the last six years.
- No Recent Debt Acknowledgement – you must not have confirmed the debt to the creditor or the collection agency. This means you must not have agreed that you have the debt to Birkett Long or anyone else that has enquired within the last six years. To be clear, a prove the debt letter is not acknowledging the debt because you are not agreeing that you have the debt.
If all of these apply, the debt will be Statute Barred and does not have to be paid back.
It should be noted that Birkett Long are asking their clients to provide evidence if you previously made a payment or acknowledged the debt (see their website). This shows they are making sure that any debts are not Statute Barred. If you know you made a payment or acknowledged the debt, they may have already received evidence of this.
Your Options for Paying Back Birkett Long Debts
If you have received genuine proof that you owe the debt and your debt is not Statute Barred, the only option left is to explore your debt solution options before it escalates further.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to paying off a debt. How to pay the debt off will depend on the amount of debt and your specific circumstances. However, there is a selection of options that usually work for most people. These are:
- Agreeing payment plans directly with Birkett Long
- Individual Voluntary Agreement (IVA)
- Debt Relief Orders
An IVA is one of the most applicable options, especially if you own a home and want to prevent it from being repossessed.
What Is an IVA?
An IVA is an agreement to repay debts over a set period of time (usually five years and at least £100 per month). After the five years is up, any remaining debt will be wiped, and you will not have to repay it. This means an IVA can save you money as long as you stick to repayments over the agreed period.
The IVA will consolidate multiple debts that total to more than £1700. It is not an option if your only debt is with Birkett Long’s client. For this reason, the IVA option is beneficial for people who are struggling with multiple unaffordable debts.
You cannot make these agreements yourself like you may do if you spoke to Birkett Long directly. They must be made by a company that specialises in drawing up IVAs, while taking into account your situation.
I Feel Overwhelmed with Options…
It is natural to feel overwhelmed when researching what you should do. Because there are lots of debt solutions out there, you may not know what is best for your circumstances.
The good news is that there are some reliable sources you can use. Moneynerd.com offers a breakdown of all debt solution options without the jargon. Find easy explanations to common debt solutions on their pages.
If you prefer to speak with someone rather than research yourself, you may want to speak with Citizens Advice or one of the fantastic UK debt charities. These groups can point you in the right direction and offer exceptional support.
Step Change UK is one of the best. You can get in touch with them to discuss your options and get clarity at this confusing stage. They may even speak with the people working for Birkett Long Debt Recovery on your behalf.
Dealing with Birkett Long Debt Recovery: Key Points
Here are the key things to remember when dealing with a debt notification from Birkett Long Solicitors:
- They are a genuine legal team working for commercial businesses
- They are regulated and must respect FCA rules
- They are likely to prove the debt in the first letter (and have checked if the debt is Statute Barred)
- You should act if you owe the debt or believe you do not owe it
- There are lots of debt solution options, including negotiating a payment plan or an IVA
- Your best option can be identified with the help of debt charities in the UK
Lastly, remember that thousands of people have been in debt with Birkett Long and got out of it.
Taking action and getting support is the key to becoming debt free!