Have you received a phone call or letter from Ellis & Co debt collectors?
If so, this comprehensive guide will help you understand some of the key issues surrounding debt recovery and also provide you with advice on what to do next.
I’ve been contacted by Ellis & Co debt collectors but don’t know what to do.
The most important thing to do if you’ve been contacted by Ellis & Co is to contact them as soon as possible using the details provided to you.
What sort of action can they take against me?
If you fail to get in touch following correspondence then Ellis & Co could:
- Issue legal proceedings against you
- Claim additional costs such as Court fees, legal costs and interest
How much will additional fees cost?
- The Court fee depends on the outstanding amount. You can click here for details of Court fees: https://www.gov.uk/court-fees-what-they-are
- Interest can be claimed under s.69 of the County Courts Act 1984 at a rate of 8% per annum.
- Interest will continue to accrue up until the date of Judgment, or earlier payment, whichever is the soonest.
What happens if they issue proceedings?
- You’ll receive an N1 Claim Form from the Court together with Particulars of Claim. These set out what is being claimed from you.
- If you fail to respond to the Court, Ellis & Co may enter Judgment against you. This will be recorded on your credit file and may make it difficult for you to obtain credit in future.
- If you fail to pay a Judgment then enforcement proceedings may be issued against you.
What type of enforcement proceedings can be issued against me?
There are four main methods of enforcement:
- Bailiffs can be instructed to attend at your property with a view to removing goods for sale to the total value of your outstanding debt.
- If you’re in employment, Ellis & Co may apply for an Attachment of Earnings Order against you. This means that payments will be taken directly from your salary until such time as the debt is paid in full.
- A Third Party Debt Order can be applied for. This means that your bank account will be frozen until the Court have decided on how best you should repay the debt.
- Finally, if you’re a home owner, then a Charging Order can be applied for. This means that you won’t be able to sell your property until such time as the debt has been discharged.
They won’t stop contacting me. Is there anything I can do about this?
- The best way to deal with any debt collector is to speak to them and come to some sort of arrangement.
- If you don’t agree that the money’s owed to them then don’t be afraid to say so and explain your reasons.
- All debt collectors have to comply with certain legislation to protect you against harassment. If you feel that they’re not complying with this you can contact the Financial Conduct Authority (www.fca.org.uk/consumers/how-complain) for further assistance and advice.
Can Ellis & Co discuss my debt with anyone else?
- Absolutely not (unless you give them express consent to do so). This would breach data protection legislation and constitute a very serious offence.
- As noted above, all registered debt collectors have certain criteria to adhere to – for example, they shouldn’t contact you at your place of work, contact you at an unreasonable hour or discuss your affairs with anyone else.
Is there any way of avoiding payment?
- If you dispute the amount being claimed then you should certainly discuss this with Ellis & Co before making payment.
- You also have the legal right to request evidence of the debt being claimed from you. You should ideally do this in writing.
- You may also be able to avoid payment if the debt has been outstanding for over 6 years under provision of the Limitation Act 1980. However, this depends whether you’ve made any payment towards the debt during that period of time and/or acknowledged that you’re responsible for it. The Act also doesn’t apply if they’ve already secured a CCJ against you.
If I agree the debt’s outstanding will Ellis & Co accept a repayment plan?
- In most cases, Ellis & Co will be willing to enter into some form of repayment plan with you. After all, it’s in their best interests to recover the outstanding money on behalf of their client and without the need to issue formal legal proceedings. Again, the key piece of advice is to contact them as soon as possible to discuss what your options might be. Prior to doing this you might want to draw up a list of your income and outgoings so that you can work out how much you can reasonably repay to them. They may also request a copy of this so that they can discuss your proposal with their client.
- Sometimes (and depending on the outstanding amount), a client might require that any such proposal be secured under provision of a County Court Judgment. This means that, should you default on the arrangement, then they remain at liberty to start enforcement proceedings against you. However, do remember that in this type of scenario, the CCJ will remain on your credit file for a period of 6 years. For this reason, some debtors prefer to repay the debt by way of credit card or loan but this is a purely individual decision and one you should consider very carefully before committing to anything long-term.
What happens if I dispute the debt and get taken to Court?
- If you decide to defend the claim upon receipt of the N1 Claim Form and Particulars of Claim you may have to attend the County Court in order to present your defence to the District Judge.
- Very often, the Court will offer a process known as ‘mediation’ before a Court hearing takes and this is conducted over the phone (but is subject to availability). During this process, you’ll be contacted by an independent mediator who’ll speak with both you and a representative from Ellis & Co about your debt. A large number of cases are settled at this stage and without the need to attend Court. It may be, for example, that you can reach some form of agreement (without the need for a County Court Judgment); although you should always attempt to do this yourself prior to the issue of proceedings (since additional costs will be added onto your account in respect of Court and legal fees).
- If, at this stage, an agreement still can’t be reached between you then you may need to attend Court and have your case decided by the Judge. If necessary, you can be legally represented by a solicitor or barrister who will then speak on your behalf. Alternatively you could simply represent yourself and explain to the Judge why the case is defended. He or she will then decide on the best way forward.
Can I get the debt written off?
- In some cases, you may be able to apply for an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (or ‘IVA’) which writes off a certain percentage of your debts. However, in order to obtain one, you’ll need to satisfy certain criteria in order to qualify. For example, you’ll need to have at least £5,000.00 worth of debt and be able to meet your monthly repayments (on the reduced debt amount). There are also other options available, such as a debt arrangement scheme or even bankruptcy. However, these are all very serious decisions and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
- It’s always advisable to seek independent advice about such alternatives – and certainly before you enter into any type of arrangement with Ellis & Co.
Where can I get help and support from?
- If you’ve had a debt recovery letter from Ellis & Co and don’t feel able to deal with it on your own, you can always seek legal advice from an independent solicitor, the Citizens Advice Bureau or a debt recovery charity such as the Government’s ‘Step Change’ initiative (www.stepchange.org).
- Ultimately, however, debt matters are always best dealt with sooner rather than later so do be sure to take action as soon as you’re contacted; regardless of whether you accept the debt being claimed or not.