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The costs of a Debt Recovery claim will vary depending on various factors however, we have set out below information about the range of costs that would be incurred at the different stages of a claim, but it is important to bear in mind that every case is unique and therefore, the range of costs set out below are a guide.

Generally, we do not charge a fixed fee for this type of claim.  Work is charged at our standard hourly rates which is currently £280.00 per hour plus VAT (the VAT rate is currently 20%) (see below)

We will always do our best to assess the likely costs of a claim at the outset and keep all clients informed of any variations as the claim proceeds.

Please note all of the figures given below for our costs are exclusive of VAT (for more information on VAT – see heading VAT and Disbursements).

Stage 1 – Pre-Action (before Court Proceedings are issued)

The first stage of a debt recovery civil claim is to prepare a formal pre-action letter to the debtor, the cost of which is usually between £250 – £500.  This includes taking initial instructions; drafting and sending the letter; and reporting back to you on any response received.  The cost of this first stage can be less if the matter is straight forward, but if the matter is complex and requires consideration of large amounts of documentation, then it can be more.

Stage Two – Negotiations

If, as a result of the pre-action letter, the debt is paid in full, or negotiations commence to reach an agreement, without issuing court proceedings, then the additional time spent is at this stage is charged on an hourly rate basis for all correspondence, telephone calls, meetings and preparation work necessary to complete the settlement arrangements and facilitate payment of the debt.   It is difficult to estimate the costs of this stage.  Where a debt is paid, the costs will be limited to facilitating a timely settlement; in a more complex case where negotiations prove necessary, the costs will reflect the length and complexity of those negotiations.

Stage 3 – Court Proceedings

It is not always possible to settle a claim without having to resort to issuing court proceedings.  The costs of dealing with claims will vary between those claims that are undefended and those that are defended.  Court proceedings would not be issued without first obtaining instructions from you as the client.

For an undefended claim, the cost range of preparing and issuing the claim and obtaining judgment is usually around £500-£1000 plus the Court Fees (see separate list) but as with Stage 1, a more complex matter will incur higher costs than this, and often these cases may need the involvement of a barrister to draft the case papers.    If the matter is complex and we feel a barrister is necessary, we will obtain quotes for you to approve before any barrister fees are incurred.  A barrister’s fee, like the court’s fee, is payable in addition to our costs (see below).

For a claim that is defended by the debtor, it is more difficult to assess the range of costs likely to be incurred, but these cases will cost more to deal with than undefended cases because they take longer and require more work.  This is particularly the case, if a settlement is not reached and a final court hearing is necessary.  The costs incurred will reflect the nature and complexity of the case and defence, and how much work is required to bring the matter to either a settlement or a final hearing.

The court system divides cases into three different tracks, depending on the value and complexity of the claim.  As a guide, we have set out below the range of costs that can be incurred in dealing with defended court claims in each track:

Defended Small Claims (valued at £10,000 and under) can incur costs of around £2,000 – £3,000 in total if it proceeds to a court hearing.   The general rule for a small claim is that each party bears its own costs and therefore, even if successful, you cannot usually recover legal fees from the other side, only disbursements.

Defended Fast Track Claims (valued between £10,000-£25,000) somewhere between £5,000-£10,000.

Defended Multi-Track Claims (valued at £25,000 or more) can easily run into £10,000 or more for costs.

As explained above, these figures are provided as a guide and will depend on the complexity of the issues in the case, the amount of documentation to consider, and the behaviour of the parties involved, and as such, it is difficult to provide more than a range of figures.

VAT and Disbursements

VAT is charged on our costs – the current rate is 20%.

It is probable that the case will also attract disbursements in addition to the legal costs.  Examples of disbursements include:

  • Court fees. These vary depending on the value of the claim and do not attract VAT.  Please click on here to see our separate list of current court fees that can apply to a debt recovery claim.
  • Barrister’s fees. These fees do attract VAT and can range from £750 to £4,000 plus VAT for preparing a claim or a defence, depending on the complexity of the matter.
  • Expert’s fees. In more complex debt recovery cases that involve a dispute it is possible that an expert report may be needed to help the parties, or the court resolve the matter. Experts’ fees vary depending on the type of expert, the nature of the dispute, and the complexity of the matter.  On average experts’ fee range from £300 – £2,500 plus VAT.
  • Process Server’s Fees. In some cases, it will be necessary to have documents served by a process server. The fees for this service range from £50-£150 plus VAT.

Enforcement Action

The range of costs provided are for dealing with the claim up to and obtaining judgment if the claim is successful.   If a judgment is obtained but the other party does not pay, enforcement action will be necessary which will incur additional costs and court fees, over and above those set out here.  If enforcement action proves necessary, we would discuss with you the options and the likely costs before action is commenced.  Enforcement action will attract court fees and possibly bailiff fees.  Bailiff fees vary but can range from £121.00 to £141 and will attract VAT.


It is important to be clear that this largely depends on the court’s management of the claims, and how long we must wait from them to process claim forms, applications and list hearings. However, generally:

  • a Small Claim can be expected to be heard within around 6 months from the date the claim form is issued.
  • A Fast-Track Claim should be heard around 9 – 12 months from the date of issue, and
  • a Multi-Track claim may take 12 – 18 months to get to hearing, again depending on a variety of factors.

Our Dispute Resolution Team

Paul Croker, Managing Director and Solicitor


Jonathan Eales, Consultant and former Managing Director


Rebecca Hamilton, Director and Solicitor



For more details on Paul, Jonathan and Rebecca please click here.

Contacting us

We hope this information if useful, but if you have any queries about the cost of a potential claim you may have please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Dispute Resolution Team who would be happy to help you.