Debtor Tracing Services

Pursuing a debtor in relation to unpaid debts typically requires the creditor business or individual to know where the debtor is. If the debtor has absconded, the creditor will likely have difficulty serving their claim form or (if they already have judgment) taking enforcement action. For cases like these, Saunders Law offers a comprehensive debtor tracing service, helping creditors track down elusive debtors and recovering the money owed to them.

Saunders Law is a niche litigation practice based in Central London. We specialise in complex and high value commercial litigation, including debt recovery and civil asset recovery.

We help businesses and professionals negotiate suitable settlements and take strategic legal action to recover their money, both in the UK and internationally.

As our Commercial Litigation team offers a highly bespoke debt recovery service, we specialise in pursuing debts in excess of £100,000.

Find out more about the firm, its teams and its typical work by taking a look at our clients.

Find more information about our High Value Debt Recovery services here.

Speak to our debt recovery solicitors in London

For expert assistance tracking down debtors and pursuing commercial and high value debts, contact Saunders Law for a free, no obligation initial discussion about how we can help.

Call us on 02076324300 or make an enquiry online.

Our debtor tracing services

As part of our bespoke debt recovery service, we offer debtor tracing to track down elusive debtors for the purposes of serving court documents and enforcing County Court Judgments or High Court Writs. Our debtor tracing expertise includes:

  • Conducting investigations and information gathering, using key sources such as Companies House, the Land Registry and social media.
  • Contacting business contacts and associates of the debtor.
  • Instructing tracing agents.
  • Doing bankruptcy searches.
  • Working with High Court enforcement agents to trace debtors and enforce debts.
  • Conducting all investigations in compliance with data protection law.

When tracing debtors, it is useful for the creditor to supply our commercial litigation lawyers with as much information as possible, including:

  • The debtor’s full name or aliases.
  • Their date of birth.
  • Their last known address.
  • Any other properties which may be associated with the debtor.
  • Their occupation and previous employers.
  • Contact details such as phone numbers and email addresses.
  • Social media account handles.
  • Any other relevant information.

Debtor tracing methods and techniques

Direct contact

It is often the case that debtors do not need to be necessarily tracked down but caught at the right time or persuaded to engage. In our experience, receiving correspondence from a solicitor such as a firmly worded letter is often enough to encourage a debtor to reappear.

Conducting investigations

We undertake thorough investigations to uncover information about debtors, such as:

  • Checking Companies House if the matter concerns a business (as well as revealing details about the company such as registered address and accounts, creditors can find valuable information about directors, investors and shareholdings).
  • Checking social media.
  • Checking directories for phone numbers and other contact details.
  • Checking the electoral register.
  • Checking the Land Registry, such as doing searches on properties associated with the debtor or the Index of Proprietors which reveals whether someone owns property (although this usually requires a court order).

Contacting third parties

It may be possible to seek information from third parties, such as businesses or individuals associated with the debtor. It is vital that a legal professional conducts these types of investigations to avoid issues arising with the debtor such as accusations of harassment. In many cases, third parties will not be able to reveal information about the debtor for data protection purposes.

Instructing tracing agents

Tracing agents are professionals who specialise in tracking down individuals or businesses often for the purposes of serving court documents or enforcing judgments.

In many cases, tracing agents also act as process servers, so can be beneficial where it is necessary to serve a defendant with legal documents in-person.

Tracing agents carry out a number of enquiries, such as credit checks. Credit reports contain valuable information about individuals, such as:

  • Full name and date of birth.
  • Electoral roll information.
  • Details of what accounts the debtor holds.
  • Details of the debtor’s liabilities.
  • Details of whether any organisations have carried out hard credit checks, such banks and mortgage lenders.
  • Whether the debtor has any County Court Judgments, Individual Voluntary Arrangements or bankruptcies within the last six years.

As well as helping creditors locate debtors, doing credit checks can help them make a decision about whether pursuing recovery of the debt is a viable option or whether taking formal enforcement action such as instructing bailiffs is likely to result in a positive outcome.

Bankruptcy searches and finding insolvent companies

Anyone can locate details of a person that has gone bankrupt or a company that has entered insolvency.

Individual bankruptcy

The Insolvency Register contains details of individual bankruptcies, Debt Relief Orders and Individual Voluntary Arrangements in England and Wales. To search the register the creditor needs the debtor’s naming or trading name (if they are a sole trader).

If the individual is insolvent, it means that the creditor may not be able to pursue recovery of the debt (unless they have security or are able to obtain leave of the court). However, it provides means for the creditor to contact the Official Receiver and submit proof of debt to claim their share from the debtor’s estate (if any share is available).

Corporate insolvency

Details of corporate insolvency are published by The Gazette, including:

  • The company name and number.
  • The registered address.
  • The type of insolvency (such as members’ voluntary liquidation).
  • The date of relevant events such as the notices to creditors, resolutions for winding-up and the appointment of liquidators.
  • The liquidator’s name and address.

Searching a company on Companies House can also reveal information such as whether the company has had any previous names and the company status, such as whether there are any actions to strike off or whether the company is in liquidation.

Instructing High Court enforcement officers

When a creditor obtains a County Court Judgment, they may transfer the judgment up to the High Court for enforcement by High Court Enforcement Officers. This often allows the creditor to seek enforcement action faster. High Court Enforcement services may also offer debtor tracing and investigation services, such as making discreet enquiries in the debtor’s area to see if they can determine their whereabouts.

Can you serve a claim form without an address?

When seeking a County Court Money Judgment, creditors are required to comply with strict rules of service set out in the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR).

Generally, for service within the jurisdiction, the claim form should be served at an address where the debtor says they may be served. Where the debtor does not give an address, individuals should be served at their usual or last known address. Companies should be served at their principal office or place of business which has a real connection with the claim.

If the creditor does not know where the debtor lives or carries on their business, they must take reasonable steps to trace the debtor’s current address. Where they cannot, they must consider whether there is an alternative place or method by which service may be affected. For alternative methods and places, the creditor must get the court’s permission.

The CPR permits other various methods of service, including electronic methods such as fax and email. However, these flexible methods of service, require the debtor or their solicitor to indicate in writing that they are willing to accept service by electronic means. So, email cannot simply be used as an alternative to serving by post where the debtor’s address is not known.

International service of claim forms is even more complex, possessing its own rules and requirements.

Speak to our debt recovery solicitors in London

For expert assistance tracking down debtors and pursuing commercial and high value debts, contact Saunders Law for a free, no obligation initial discussion about how we can help.

Call us on 020 7632 4300 or make an enquiry online.