In the recent BBC series “The Sheriffs Are Coming” - featuring The Sheriffs Office – there were two cases where the wrong entity was sued. Both cases illustrated why it is so important to get this right.
We are finding this to be an increasing issue, particularly as more and more claimants are choosing to represent themselves in court. I cannot stress enough how important it is to do your due diligence about who you are doing business with.
Ideally, these checks need to be made before you sign any contracts, rather than at the point where you need to sue. Sometimes it can be hard to find out exactly who you are dealing with – if this is the case, it may be worth asking yourself why they are going to such lengths to make it so hard!
At The Sheriffs Office, we sometimes have to cease enforcement action due to the debtors being incorrectly named on the writ. This can cost the judgment creditor time and money in either having the judgment and writ varied, or even having to go through the entire court process again. I have previously written a full article on this subject, but as it is a really important subject I felt it was worthwhile reiterating the point.
Here is a checklist on suing the correct entity:
- If your debtor is a limited company, sue the company not the directors
- Sue the company you have a contract with
- Get the name right – check with Companies House
- If the company uses a trading name, put both the limited company name and the trading name in the judgment
- If you can’t find the company name behind the trading name, include the words “A Firm” in brackets after the trading name
- If suing a partnership, include the names of the partners in the command portion of the writ so you can enforce against the partnership and/or the partners individually
- With a sole trader, include the name of every individual running the business – this way you can enforce against the individual if the business has no assets or has ceased trading - include the words “A Firm” in brackets after the trading name
- Get the defendant’s name 100% accurate – even a small mistake could prevent enforcement. You can check business names at Companies House or run a trace on an individual.