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