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How long can debt recovery take?

  • Blog
  • 24 January 2018

Having money owed to your business can cause a range of cash flow issues that, in turn, can hinder the growth of your business, your ability to expand and ultimately the survival of your business

Taking action to recover debt is sometimes necessary, but how long can this process take? We explain the different routes that debt recovery can take and the timescales involved in these processes.

How long can debt recovery take?

How long should you wait before instigating debt recovery?

The first timescale to keep in mind is the length of time you take before you move onto pursuing debt recovery.

For most businesses, this is set out in their payment terms. Normally this could be around 90 days, giving your business and your customer a chance to rectify the problem.

This is your opportunity to invoice as normal, then chase and issue final warnings to a customer. If this doesn’t work, you can then move onto a number of different options for recouping any money owed to your business.


This is often the softest method, avoiding unnecessary court costs or having to enlist the services of a debt recovery agency.

A mediation process will aim to find a suitable middle ground that allows you to recoup your money. For example, mediation could put a process in place that establishes a number of repayments at set times to help you get your money back over the space of a few months.

The time involved with mediation can vary, depending on how long it takes to reach an agreement between both parties.

Recovery through the courts

Mediation might not always be possible and in those situations you need to consider legal action. Again, the timescales can vary depending on the extent of the case being presented.

Depending on the amount of money involved, it can take up to 30 weeks for a case to go to trial. You also need to keep in mind the costs involved when taking legal action against someone. For example, lawyers’ fees can be particularly expensive, especially on a case that takes time to prepare and then a number of weeks to reach a resolution.

Debt recovery agencies

A debt recovery agency tends to be a last resort for people looking to get their money back and are often the course of action if other avenues have failed.

Debt recovery agencies are third parties, with their own processes and litigation to contend with before they are able to act. After establishing that the are cleared to proceed legally, they will act on your behalf to reclaim funds you are owed.

Waiting for a debt recover agency to assess if they are able to help, and get the clearance to act, can mean that you have longer to wait before your money can be reclaimed.

The number of options available when it comes to recovering debt vary, and the right course of action for your business might depend entirely on your circumstances, the amount of money you need to reclaim or the reasons behind why you haven’t been paid.

How can FSB help your business with debt recovery?

Failure of a customer or client to pay you on time can cause your business undue stress and lead to strained client relationships and financial difficulty.

To help businesses recover debts, FSB offers access to a debt recovery service as part of its Business Essentials package.

This service includes a wealth of features designed to help businesses with debt recovery, including:

  • Exclusive FSB debt recovery platform
  • A dedicated debt recovery helpline
  • Additional services, including collection, recovery, tracing and insolvency services 
  • Ability to load multiple debts and view the progress made on cases
  • A full UK and global collection service

To find out more about how FSB could help your business recover debts, visit our FSB Debt Recovery page. Or to see how else our Business Essentials package could help your business thrive, visit our package comparison page.

FSB Debt Recovery from FSB

FSB Debt Recovery gives you the opportunity to recover 100% of the money you are owed and in most cases this costs absolutely nothing

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