What is Commercial Debt Collection?

Commercial debt collection is when a third-party agency recovers unpaid debts owed by one company to another. The recovery agency contacts the company owing the debt requiring it to pay the debt.

Aug 22, 2023

Commercial Debt Collection Explained

What is Commercial Debt Collection?

Commercial debt collection is the process of the recovery of outstanding amounts of money owed by one commercial entity to another. This can be because an invoice was not paid on time or an unpaid, contractually owed amount became a commercial debt. The entity owed money is called a "creditor", and the one owing the money is the "debtor".

Debt collection is a regulated business in most countries, but commercial debt collection is usually not regulated. Commercial debt collectors collect only from those individuals acting in a business capacity or commercial entities such as private and publicly owned companies worldwide. Businesses with "b2b" (business-to-business) models enter into commercial agreements often called “Client Agreements” with contractual obligations which both parties must fulfil according to the terms of the agreement and the jurisdiction which governs it.

Collecting commercial debt can be difficult for creditor companies and individuals acting in a business capacity, especially when they find themselves overwhelmed with many debtors and the debt has been outstanding for a long time. Aged debt impacts cash flow, and often this can cause some businesses to struggle or close.

If you are a creditor that is owed money, fortunately, there are ways to make it a little easier on yourself using these steps.

Create Strong Agreements

Before entering into any agreement with clients, ensure you have a firm contract. The commercial terms of your agreement should be as straightforward as possible, reflecting as closely as possible the workflow, deliverables and business model between your company and your client's company. Freshbooks defines how to write a client contract here for US companies but has relevancy for companies worldwide.

An essential part of your agreement is the payment terms, including repercussions when a company misses its due date. These are called the financial penalties for late payment.

The more detrimental the effects are of the financial and legal penalties, the more leverage you have as you move forward in the commercial debt collection process. However, avoid making the contract too complicated so that it's either hard to understand, hard to enforce or unnecessarily long. Sometimes the best agreements are pretty short but contain precisely the right points.

According to UK Late Payment Law, you can claim statutory interest of 8% per annum and debt recovery costs if another business defaults on the agreed payment terms.

However, some companies set their own late payment penalties which are much higher than the statutory amount mentioned above, as follows;

• Monthly interest (2 – 4%, depending on the invoice amount being charged)

• A flat late payment fee instead of an interest rate

• A clause that states if you have to incur any third-party services such as lawyers or debt collection agencies, the cost will be the client's responsibility.

• An invoice admin fee per each invoice.

Make sure not to charge excessive amounts, however. Always stick to your country's laws because if you enter into a legal recovery, you could lose if a court deems your measures overly arduous or extreme.

Steps for Commercial Debt Collection

Commercial debt collection companies tend to work on a "no win, no fee" or "contingency" basis. Contingency means that they are only paid if they recover the debt.

Before you instruct a commercial debt collector:

  • Initiate and document your process.
  • Don't immediately threaten legal pressure.
  • Remember, you're dealing with a human being.
  • Use the effects of psychology to your advantage.

Think about what you'll say and how they'll impact that person into doing what's right (paying their debt).

Instead of immediately threatening legal action, try the following:

1. Engage with the debtor. Send an email reminding them of their contractually binding payment obligations and the balance due. Ask for a response and issue a deadline.

2. If you have not received a response in a week, elevate your efforts with daily phone calls. Again, reminding of the balance due and even offering a payment plan.

3. If there isn't any dialogue or effort after another week, increase the 'threat' by adding interest, admin fees, or any other warranted fees.

4. Remind your client that if you must involve a commercial debt collector or lawyer, the fees might be their responsibility (depending on the terms), increasing what they owe.

5. The next step if these efforts fail should be to instruct a commercial debt collector.

6. Legal recovery always comes after you have exhausted the "free options", i.e.: already tried recovering the debt using a commercial debt collection agent.

The key is not to make empty threats. For example, don't immediately threaten legal action without first consulting with a lawyer or researching your available legal remedies, the cost and chances of success.

As you work through the process, keep in mind how your actions will look to a lawyer or judge. If the case escalates and you must take it further, don't let your actions be the problem. Be responsible and use effective tactics. State the facts and avoid becoming argumentative.

It's usually better to avoid legal action but If it comes down to it, consult with a lawyer. Do your due diligence before choosing which law firm to represent you. UK based solicitors and some international law firms are listed here. Try to find law firms that offer complete transparency and will give you free appraisals and a list of services they'll offer. Investing in legal action can be costly, and there is no guarantee of success. There are many factors involved.

Payfor offers further advice and information about Legal Recovery here.





Giles Goodman - Payfor CEOAuthor: Giles Goodman, Founder CEO of Payfor Limited
Drawing from his solid experience in commercial debt collection, Giles
offers invaluable expertise in solving claims owed between companies worldwide. Through his writing,
Giles shares insights tailored to business owners, leveraging his wealth of experience to provide practical
guidance and support.

Linkedin Logo LinkedIn


This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The information provided in this post is based on general principles and may not apply to specific legal situations. Laws and regulations vary by jurisdiction and can change over time. Readers are advised to seek professional legal counsel before making any decisions based on the information provided in this blog post. Payfor Ltd is not a law firm and does not provide legal services. The company disclaims any liability for actions taken based on the contents of this blog post.

More Blogs & Insights

What Should Businesses Expect From a Modern-Day Debt Recovery Agency

What Should Businesses Expect From a Modern-Day Debt Recovery Agency?

Modern debt recovery firms are redefining industry standards by offering strategic financial solutions alongside traditional collection efforts.

Expert Tips for Choosing Reliable B2B Partners

How to Safeguard Your Business: Expert Tips for Choosing Reliable B2B Partners and Clients

In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, establishing robust B2B partnerships and securing dependable clients are pivotal to achieving growth.

Commercial Debt Collection Challenges and Solutions for UK Companies

What Are Commercial Debt Collection Challenges and Solutions for UK Companies?

Navigating the complexities of commercial debt recovery in the UK presents many challenges that demand a strategic understanding and adept handling.

Debt Collection for AI Companies

A Comprehensive Guide to Commercial Debt Collection for AI Companies

As AI businesses often market their technology globally, cross-border trade is a notable challenge they face.

Commercial Debt Collection nuances for Recruitment Companies

How Does Commercial Debt Collection Work for Recruitment Companies?

As recruitment agencies strive to connect employers with suitable candidates, the issue of outstanding payments can become a common challenge for them.

Debt Collection Agencies

What are Debt Collection Agencies: Their Role in Financial Recovery

The debt collector is mainly an agency creditors hire to recover money owed by businesses that have failed to make timely payments on their debts.

Commercial Debt Collection Issues for IT and Software Development Companies

Commercial Debt Collection Issues for IT and Software Development Companies

The billing models, project timelines, and evolving client requirements create an environment where debt recovery becomes a complex and nuanced process for IT and Software development companies.

Maintaining Healthy B2B Relationships while Pursuing Debt Collection

Business Debt Collection Etiquette: How to Preserve B2B Relationships

In the ever-evolving landscape of business, maintaining positive relationships with other companies is crucial for long-term success. However, as businesses engage in commercial transactions, they may encounter instances where debtors are not forthcoming, acting in bad faith, or having a hidden agenda.

What is a Debtor

What is a Debtor in Business: Essential Guide

Commercial debtors, in essence, refer to entities that owe money to a business for goods or services provided. This financial relationship forms a critical component of the broader commercial ecosystem, shaping a business's cash flow dynamics and overall financial health. 

Global Debt Collection Explained

What is Global Debt Collection?

Global debt collection is when a collection agency or company actively tries to collect debts from debtors across international borders.

What to Do if a Company Owes You Money

What to Do if a Company Owes You Money: Resolving Unsettled Debts

In a business relationship, there might be situations where a company owes you money, and the path to resolution may not always be clear. When faced with this challenge, it's crucial to approach the situation with a level head and a strategic plan.

Top Challenges in Global Debt Collection

10 Global Debt Collection Challenges: How to Overcome Them

Identify the key challenges of global debt collection, from legal jurisdictions to assessing debtor's liquidity, and effective strategies for successful debt recovery.

Commercial Debt Collection Laws and Rules in the UK

Commercial Debt Collection Laws in the UK: A Comprehensive Guide

Understanding the legal framework governing commercial debt collection is paramount for both creditors seeking restitution and debtors aiming to protect their rights.

Negotiation Tactics in Debt Recovery

Negotiation Tactics in Debt Recovery: The Psychology of Persuasion.

Commercial debt recovery is an essential, yet intricate, facet of business operations that requires an amalgamation of skills—from legal understanding to business acumen.

Corporate debt recovery

What is Corporate Recovery?

A Comprehensive Guide to Collecting £100k-£250k Unpaid Invoices from International Businesses

Determine if a Debtor is Solvent

How to Determine if a Debtor is Solvent Enough to Repay Debt: An Expert Guide

In the intricate world of commercial debt collection, one of the most challenging yet imperative tasks is assessing the solvency of a debtor.

Jurisdiction in Commercial Debt Collection

Why Jurisdiction Is the Most Critical Factor in Commercial Debt Collection

When it comes to commercial debt collection, one question often trumps all others: "What is the key most important factor when chasing a debt?"

Amicable Commercial Debt Recovery

What is Amicable Recovery?

Amicable Recovery is a consensual and cooperative debt collection method that aims to settle outstanding payments without resorting to judicial measures. This process often commences with a courteous reminder, followed by mutually beneficial negotiations, in an effort to secure payment.

Commercial Debt Collection Explained

What is Commercial Debt Collection?

Commercial debt collection is when a third-party agency recovers unpaid debts owed by one company to another. The recovery agency contacts the company owing the debt requiring it to pay the debt.

legal debt recovery as a strategic imperative

Is Legal Recovery the Answer When Your Business is Owed Money Across Borders?

When your business faces the challenge of recovering owed money from companies operating across international borders, legal recovery emerges as a strategic imperative.

Two men handshaking over a satisfying debt settlement

How a Ukrainian company achieved a satisfying settlement

The Ukrainian company had done everything they needed...

Portuguese company's outstanding debt collection case study

How a Portuguese company got 80% of the outstanding debt collected

A recruitment company based in Portugal was owed money from clients in the UK, Portugal and Germany.

A software development company's outstanding debt negotiation

Indian software developer got that Payfor feeling

Payfor was able to collect the outstanding debt by negotiating a resolution between the two companies.

overcome frustrating debt collections

How we overcome frustrating debt collections

A Welsh SaaS business was owed money by a London financial services company.

Collect Debt From a Business That Repeatedly Refuses to Pay

How to Collect Debt From a Business That Repeatedly Refuses to Pay What They Owe

At the start of the Covid Pandemic in the UK early 2020, companies started owing each other money left, right and centre…

Payfor Commercial Debt Recovery Agency Logo

Your global 
recovery specialists.

Payfor's Google Ratings Image


Facebook white logoTwitter bird logoInstagram logo

Global Address

Number One, Vicarage Ln, London E15 4HF  

Copyright. Payfor 2024. London.