Yep. To be honest, I’d definitely keep naming and shaming. We spoke on Twitter and there are organisations and people who will start frivolous litigation to try to shut you up. There is also the concept of vexatious litigation, where unscrupulous companies will start lots of court cases for the same action against you, including counterclaims. The idea being that you waste your energy, time and money chasing them down. However, until a court finds them as vexatious litigants, after having our hearing, and they go on the public register as such, they’re not. So it’s in a debtor’s interests to delay and delay and delay.
If you’re a litigant in person, and they have representation, a successful outcome can be very hard to achieve and enforce, because they just hire lawyers who play the system to delay or prevent you getting your money. That’s the aim of all of it. If you don’t get to have your day in court, your case is never heard and your evidence never gets seen, however damning. It doesn’t matter how strong your case is and if you never get to cross examine them, you can never convince a judge that their case was an out and out lie. Indeed, some litigation practises even involve submitting nonsensical action, or even deliberate lies, which in twisted a way, makes sense, to burn you out focusing on that whilst they try to get you on a process breach. So make sure you have your eye on that too, as an individual.
If you never get to have the case heard and never get to cross examine the opponents and expose those lies due to a process breach say, even if they have 10 breaches against them and you have just 1, you never get your money back. In the UK, the court system has evolved to allow them to do exactly that. The Money Claim Online service is useless really, token gesture as far as SME’s are concerned but it wastes so much court time. Why do they even bother having it? Even the Small Claims Track allows evidence not ordinarily admissible in main tracks. So to get them on evidence, you have to make the action a large claim, which provides for very very large costs against you, and up-front in any event, make no mistake.
It’s the biggest system to enable what most people would consider “miscarriages of justice” that you could possibly imagine, but we have to remember that justice apparently has a definition outside what people think it is. Until a case has managed it’s way into case law, it is not justice. If it is never heard, it is not justice.
There is so much more to this! Short answer, is refuse to do anything with anyone who isn’t an established name (and is not going anywhere). Get references, credit check and get paid up front. Definitely don’t work with startups and get personal guarantees from the directors which is joint and several. Sure, big clients are bad, but small clients are significantly worse! We’ve stopped working with or helping SME’s now for a number of reasons and this in particular, is one huge one.
I’d also remind people that late or non-payment is an epidemic. The rate of non-payment stands at almost 50%, with late payment in the mid-70% here in the UK and it’s people’s reluctance to speak out that allows thus to propagate, much the same as not speaking out about diversity in tech. It’s complicity through inaction, though it’s also possible many people have been down this route and been handcuffed through various consent orders, settlement agreements and the like.