This blog post is one of a series of extracts from Insolvency Law Made Clear: A Guide for Debtors, the plain English, practical guidance for anyone facing demands over a debt they are struggling to pay.
If the other side is represented by a lawyer, there is a rule which says that all letters should be sent to their lawyers rather than to the individual directly. This can be frustrating, because often two individuals who know each other will be able to reach an amicable compromise; but if all the letters are sent via lawyers then this becomes more difficult. One solution is to suggest (via the lawyers) a face-to-face meeting between the debtor and creditor or a telephone conversation.
If the debtor has no lawyer it is fair to suggest that the creditor speak on a ‘without lawyers’ basis as well. However, a creditor may wish to have their lawyer present as a means of protecting themselves (or simply feeling important) and there is little that a debtor can do.
On the other hand, this is a rule which can be broken with relatively little consequence, provided it is only broken once or twice. It may be helpful to let a mutual contact know that the debtor wants to speak, and to ask them to contact the creditor directly. The worst that can happen, at least in the short term, is a cross letter from the creditor’s solicitors reminding the debtor of this rule. If, however, after being warned several times about the rule the debtor continues to flout it, it might be a matter relevant to an application for indemnity costs. The court is likely to sympathise with an unrepresented party and see the sense in a meeting without lawyers; and similarly the court is likely to look kindly on all genuine attempts to settle without going to court.