Daniels Silverman debt recovery query: offer to pay previously refused, so why this harassment?

Hi, 

I'd be really grateful for your opinion and advice on this matter.


My query is about how to treat a debt collection letter from Daniels Silverman on behalf of their client, a main contracting lift engineering company for whom we did a lot of work as a limited subcontracting company about a year ago. Briefly (details further below):

* The main contractor paid us twice for an invoice by mistake.

* We have already offered to return the duplicate payment, in response to a request from a legal executive they hired, albeit a reduced amount, to account for Breach of Contract Late Payment Interest charges for all our invoices (consistently well over statutory payment terms of payment within 30 days) and an invoice previously not submitted, due to a failure of the main contractor to provide a purchase order for a considerable amount of work done (the work was done immediately on site, on the word of the main contractor to supply a PO after works were done - unfortunately the main contractor is not an honorable man and his word meant nothing. Photo evidence of works done was supplied but ignored).

* We didn't get a reply to our offer to pay a reduced amount from the legal exec. But now we have a 'final demand' letter from D Silverman with approx £500 whacked on top for 'late payment charges' (ironically). And a threat of 7 days to pay otherwise they 'are instructed to pursue the matter further'.


Questions: 

i) Should I write to D Silverman in cooperative terms, explaining the situation? 

ii) The previous legal exec stated in early communication that 'unless the refund is made by the end of this week latest, we have been instructed to commence legal action to recover the same'. Does D Silverman constitute 'legal action'? Or is D Silverman just a tool used by dishonourable companies to threaten and scare people/ companies when no one else will take up their case? 

iii) Do you think we should let this go to court? Can we win?

iv) Should I report this company to Trading Standards? We believe we have the evidence to prove that the main contractor is behaving as a rogue trader, exploiting subcontractors and bringing the industry into disrepute. 

v) If I reply to D Silverman within the week that I have reported the company to Trading Standards, will this put procedures against us on hold?



Further details: 

1) Payments from the main contractor were consistently late, beyond the statutory payment date - by up to 29 days.

2) Upon chasing an invoice after 59 days from invoice date (29 days after statutory payment date) the account dept of the main contractor refused to take calls from us and tried yet again to extend the payment date by obstruction. At this point we had to contact the director of the main contractor directly and received payment that day. I have weird, unprofessional, aggressive emails from the lady in accounts as evidence of this obstruction. 

3) Due to the main contractor accounts dept's commercially obstructive behaviour, invoices had to be sent to a their Project Manager instead, as it was clear to all those involved that the lady in accounts was acting in an irrational and vindictive manner, so her obstructive influence on payments had to be suppressed by a Project Manager. I have emails as evidence of this redirection of invoices to a Project Manager.

4) The main contractor accounts dept had our subcontractor form, with all details about our turnover for the past 3 year and total employees and subcontractors. Therefore she (and the director) knew that our subcontracting business is very, very small, our turnover is small and the factors for loss are many in the installation and modernisation of heavy machinery.   

Therefore is clear to us that the main contractor was aware that constant, insistent commercial obstruction by constant payment delays would severely affect our cashflow and ability to pay our workers. This shows malicious intent and therefore constitutes Breach of Contract.

5) Prior to the main contractor accounts dept's recent communications to get monies from us, to cover for her duplicate payment mistake, courtesy of remittances was never extended towards us. (She does not run a tight ship, hence her duplicate payment mistake.)

6) The lady in the main contractors accounts dept has a terrible reputation in the industry. She is well known. Her own office acknowledge that her tactics for delaying payments are unprofessional and bizarre. It is the general consensus that the director likes her to behave in this unprofessional manner as it allows him to exploit his subcontractors, boost his cashflow and retain monies that should be paid for works done. 


Many thanks for reading this.

Replies

  • sourcratessourcrates Forumite
    26.3K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    Forumite
    Yes, Daniel Silverman are just a Debt collection agency, they get paid to write threatening letters with meaningless timescales in them, in the hope you will pay up quickly and quietly, without any fuss, they work on behalf of the client that engages them, no matter if the case has any merit, or not, they are just there to facilitate their client getting paid, that`s it.

    It`s the client who would take legal action, and from what you have told us, your case has some merit as to why you have not paid the full invoice amount, it would be reasonable for a judge to come to the same conclusion, in my opinion (bear in mind I am not a legal expert) but going to court has the advantage of hearing both sides of the argument, yet for some bizarre reason is always used by one side as a threat, if you have a good case, then going to court should not be a problem.

    It stinks of typical DCA posturing, my thoughts are the DCA are clutching at straws as they know if it meant going to court, they wouldn`t stand a cat in hells chance of winning.

    Myself, with the case you say you have, I would call their bluff.
    Ex MSE Board Guide.

    More than a third of IVA`s fail....fact.
    Could A Debt Relief Order help you ?
    Never pay a fee for a Debt Management Plan.
    For free non-judgemental debt advice, contact either : Stepchange, National Debtline, or CitizensAdviceBureaux.
  • OccartizOccartiz Forumite
    3 Posts
    First Post
    Newbie
    Thanks sourcrates. Yes, I will probably reply to D Silverman outlining our case and indicating that we are ready for it to be heard in court and see where it goes from there. 
    Just checking - so I should reply, right? Not just leave it hanging?
  • sourcratessourcrates Forumite
    26.3K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    Forumite
    Occartiz said:
    Thanks sourcrates. Yes, I will probably reply to D Silverman outlining our case and indicating that we are ready for it to be heard in court and see where it goes from there. 
    Just checking - so I should reply, right? Not just leave it hanging?
    Yes, that`s what I would do in a similar situation, you should proceed as if this matter will go to court, try not to be confrontational, make your offer, explain your reasoning behind your decision, and keep copies of all letters sent, that way, if it does go to court, a judge would see you were presenting a reasonable response, to their requests for payment, it will all help your case.
    Ex MSE Board Guide.

    More than a third of IVA`s fail....fact.
    Could A Debt Relief Order help you ?
    Never pay a fee for a Debt Management Plan.
    For free non-judgemental debt advice, contact either : Stepchange, National Debtline, or CitizensAdviceBureaux.
  • OccartizOccartiz Forumite
    3 Posts
    First Post
    Newbie
    Many thanks sourcrates :))
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