Legal Update: The Pre-Action Protocol for Debt Claims

The new Pre-Action Protocol for Debt Claims ("the Debt PAP") will come into force from 1 October 2017.

As a specialist dispute resolution firm, Bell Lax is able to provide the most up to date and best possible service and advice to any clients with outstanding debts. 


The Debt PAP comes into force on 1 October 2017.


The Debt PAP does not apply to business to business debts, except where the debtor is a sole trader. It is only relevant for businesses claiming from individuals.


  • Debtors will now have 30 days to respond to a Letter of Claim. This is in addition to any time which is already given to the debtor by the creditor's Terms and Conditions.
  • Debtors should be provided with "the reply form" which should be completed and returned to the creditor within 30 days. This form gives the Defendant the opportunity to clearly set out their position, including whether they admit that they owe the debt and how they intend to make payment.   
  • Where a debtor responds to a Letter of Claim, but an agreement is not reached, the creditor must wait a further 14 days' before issuing proceedings. 
  • The Debt PAP requires creditors to accept a partially completed reply form as an attempt by the debtor to engage in the matter. It is quite possible that creditors will risk cost consequences if they issue proceedings in circumstances where a debtor has deliberately failed to complete the reply form appropriately.

The Debt PAP has practical and tactical implications for all those involved with debt recovery. Practically speaking, the advantages and the disadvantages of the new PAP will depend whether you are the creditor or the debtor.

At first glance, the Debt PAP looks to favour the individual debtor, over the business creditor and has the potential to make debt recovery an even more frustrating process for creditors. It means that creditors should wait a minimum of 44 days before issuing proceedings where an agreement has not been reached with a debtor.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.