Our Community Fee Service


In essence, the service is a two-staged approach to collecting outstanding undisputed community fees.

Stage 1

At the first stage (the Pre-Court action cycle) we seek to recover the debt without recourse to legal action.

Upon receipt of the Instruction Sheet which can be down loaded here and the accompanying papers, we will make a series of searches to either confirm the debtor’s address or try to trace them.

Assuming we believe we have a positive trace, we will open your file on our state of the art debt collection system and we will then send a formal Solicitor’s letter of claim telling the debtor he or she has 14 days to pay failing which court proceedings will be issued. This will be followed with a text or email, if we have these details or even a phone call.

There is a small administration fee (see below) for opening the file and carrying out the searches and trace on the debtor. However, this is only charged in the event that we are successful in making a recovery from the debtor. In addition to the administration fee, we also charge a percentage of the sum recovered (see below). If we make no recovery, we write off our time and the administration charge, meaning that we will also bear the cost for any disbursements incurred in conducting the trace on the debtor.

Unfortunately, we are only able to pursue debtors through the UK Courts who are actually resident in the UK.

If you are not sure of the debtor’s UK address, we can try and trace his or her whereabouts which is included in our administration fee. However, please note that to have a reasonable chance of locating the debtor we usually need a last known address and/or their date of birth.

Stage 2

If no response is obtained or an offer is not acceptable, we will draft the formal court Application for a European Order for Payment. We will also draft the Particulars of Claim attaching the Nota Simple and Certifica, if these have been provided.

We will ask the community for the court fee to be sent electronically in pounds sterling to our client account. The details of the court fees which the Court Service charge us can be seen here. When we issue a claim we ask the court to add statutory interest of 8% per annum to the debt, pursuant to the rules of court. This is discretionary but is normally ordered and added. As part of our service we will calculate the interest on the community’s behalf and add it to the debt.

We then have to correspond with the court to find out the progress of the claim.

If we obtain a European Order for Payment and the debtor still does not pay we will have to start enforcement proceedings. Please visit our Community Fee Enforcement page for more information.

We will charge the community a percentage of the sum recovered (see below).

‘Damages-Based Agreements’ (DBA’s).

These new regulations enable Solicitors to charge a percentage of the recoveries. To ensure that we are transparent, we include in our percentage charge the VAT rate, currently 20%. That way we hope we are a bit like Easy Jet in that there are no hidden extras!

We believe in team work so the percentage we charge is linked to the amount of work we do. Accordingly we charge a lower percentage for pre-court action work, (see below) and then if we have to apply to court for an EOP, there would be a higher rate because it involves more work especially if we have to enforce the EOP, which would also be covered under the agreement.

Under the above DBA structure we would generally not take cases on for less than €1,000 as it would not be worth us doing so especially if we had to enforce the EOP as it would get very costly for us as a firm. We would however consider private fee paying agreements.

Why we charge an administration fee?

We wish to overcome situations where we attempt to contact a debtor at an old address or living abroad, or pursue debtors that have been adjudged bankrupt and therefore we perform some searches on the debtor before opening the file.

We have also found that we have to do different searches in Ireland and Scotland and that regrettably the courts there are sometimes a lot slower so we have to chase them more often which increases our work load.

Administration Charge

To enable us to offer a more efficient service we will charge the Community a small administration charge as set out below, but only if we are able to make a recovery from the debtor. This charge will apply to each individual debtor and the amount of the charge depends on the debtor’s location.

Location of the Debtor Administration Charge (incl. vat)
England & Wales €150
Ireland, Northern Ireland & Scotland €240

This covers some of the time taken to open your file on our system, reading the instructions and the papers and making various searches which will include the following:-

i. Bankruptcy search. This is to ensure the debtor is not already bankrupt.
ii. Companies House search, which will reveal if the debtor is a director.
iii. Land Registry search, which will reveal if the debtor owns their home solely or jointly.
iv. Experian tracing searches. If the debtor has applied for any form of credit his address will usually be picked up by Experian.
v. Social Networking Sites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Please note that some agencies charge £150 plus vat for these searches alone and would require payment up-front.

Welbeck Solicitors LLP’s DBA Charges

In addition to the small administration fee we also charge a percentage of the sum recovered. In other words you pay the percentage by our results.

Amount of the Debt
(€’s)
Stage 1
Pre Action
Stage 2
European Order for Payment
& Enforcement
1,000 – 2,500 24% (including V.A.T) 42% (including V.A.T)
2,501 – 4,000 21% (including V.A.T) 36% (including V.A.T)
4,001 18% (including V.A.T) 30% (including V.A.T)

Example 1

Community (C) instruct Welbeck Solicitors LLP (W) for action against a debtor owing €1,800 in community fees.

‘W’ recovers the debt under Stage 1 after sending a letter of claim to the debtor.

The costs to ‘C’ would be 24% of €1,800 = €432 including vat plus the administration charge shown in the table above.

Example 2

Community (C) instruct Welbeck Solicitors LLP (W) for action against a debtor owing €2,700 in community fees.

‘W’ recovers the debt under Stage 2 after making an application for a European Order for Payment.

The costs to ‘C’ would be 36% of €2,700 = €972 including vat plus the administration charge shown in the table above.

However our charges can be reduced by any costs, disbursements and interest recovered from the debtor after court action.

Example 3

Community (C) instruct Welbeck Solicitors LLP (W) for action against a debtor (D) owing €2,700 in community fees.

C pays W the court fee of £95.

‘W’ recovers the debt under Stage 2 after making an application for a European Order for Payment.

W also recovers costs and interest from D of €572 and the court fee of £95.

The costs to ‘C’ would be 36% of €2,700 = €972 including vat less the €572 recovered from D so C only pays €400 including V.A.T plus the administration charge shown in the table above.

We believe that these charges are fair given the work we know that is involved especially where there are old debts which are often much more difficult to collect. As one of clients said to us 72% of something is better than 100% of nothing, especially if the charges are reduced by the sum recovered!

The above examples do not include the administration charges, which would depend on the debtor’s location and is recovered as a first charge.

Proceso Monitorio.

As you may already know, usually an Abogado in Spain would charge between €300 and €350 to obtain the initial judgment. However, to obtain and enforce an ‘embargo’ would cost over €1.500 in legal costs, disbursements and auctioneers fees.

In many cases the owner of the property is British and therefore, the entire Spanish legal process is not very effective as the courts are sometimes unable to confirm the debtor’s address. As a recovery method this is very unsatisfactory because the Abogado will not usually be able to enforce the judgment in the same way as we can in the UK.

However, if you have obtained a Spanish judgment against a UK debtor, we may be able to assist the Community with registering and enforcing the judgment in the UK. In doing so, we are generally able to include our fee in the application to the Court and recover this from the debtor. If you have any Sentencias (or judgments) against UK debtors, we ask that you provide copies of the judgments with the Instruction Sheet.

In some instances you may prefer to instruct us on a private hourly basis. We can provide you with details of our costs, with our hourly charge out rates starting at £200 plus vat and disbursements.

Conclusion.

We believe that if you have debtors who are resident in the UK, the community will have a better chance of making a recovery by using our services. We say this because:-

  1. We are based in London.
  2. We are specialist Solicitors
  3. The proceedings we use in the UK are generally much quicker than in Spain.
  4. We enforce in the UK which is usually easier and quicker.

How do we take things forward?

If you wish to instruct us, our Instruction Sheet needs to be fully completed and sent back to us with:-

(a) The Nota Simple;

(b) The full statement of account or the ‘Certifica’ showing the debt due (including legal costs), which should be signed by the President and Administrator.

In the event that there are several debtors, an Instruction Sheet will need to be completed for each of the debtors and will need to be signed by the President and returned to us. If you are an existing client with bulk instructions we may send you an excel spreadsheet for completion.

Legal Stuff.

Please note that the above is an executive summary and our terms of service is available online. Our client care letter and damages-based agreement will be sent to you when we receive your Instruction Sheet and we ask that you read these documents carefully.

Please note that if proceedings have commenced in Spain (but a judgement has not been entered) and are ongoing, we cannot always pursue the case in the UK court and that you should notify us of this at the time of instructing us. We can discuss this with you and we are usually still able to act at Stage 1.

Q. What is the difference between debt collectors and solicitors?

A. Welbeck Solicitors LLP is a firm of solicitors, authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Debt collectors are generally not legally qualified and are not entitled to commence litigation action in the courts.

Q. I am a President of a Community of Owners in Spain and I want to use your service. Do I have to pay you in advance?

A. We do raise a small administration charge to enable us to offer a more efficient service to our clients.

This charge is used to make various searches and traces on the debtor, with the aim of trying to confirm or otherwise locate the debtor’s UK address. By doing the searches at the outset we can provide a more efficient service.

The searches conducted include the following:

i. A Bankruptcy search. This is to ensure that the debtor has not already been declared bankrupt.
ii. A Companies House search, which will reveal if the debtor is a director.
iii. A Land Registry search. This will reveal if the debtor owns their home solely or jointly with anybody else.
iv. Experian tracing searches. The debtor’s address will usually be picked up by Experian.
v. Social Networking Sites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Q. I am debtor, how can I make payment?

A. For information on how to make a payment of your debt go to our community fee debt repayment page.

Q. How do I instruct you?

A. Please click here and complete our Instruction Form which should then be sent to us by email or fax without delay.

Q.  How much do you charge?

A. For information on how Welbeck Solicitors LLP charge, please go to our community fee service page.

Q. I have a query. What’s the best way of contacting you?

A. Call us on 020 7467 3999 or complete our community fee enquiry form and somebody will usually get back to you within 3 days of receiving your enquiry.

Q. I am a debtor, what happens if I ignore all the documents I have received from the Court?

A. Whether you have received our letter of claim or an order from the Court telling you that payment has to be made, we may, without further notice, take enforcement action against you without prior notice. If bankruptcy proceedings are issued, your home and other assets, even if abroad, could be at risk.