The legal framework for taking business debtors to court has become increasingly unwieldy and unfairly weighted on the side of the debtor at the expense of businesses who are themselves struggling with cash flow. We want less red tape and more speed. Basically, the system needs the jurisprudential equivalent of an enema.
Allied to the above, our sector needs to put more focus on avoiding court altogether and enabling parties to settle the claims without recourse to the law and the concomitant hefty fees of my learned friends. Having said that, however, I quite fancy myself as Rumpole of the Bailey in a wig and gown; after all, we both like fine wines and steak dinners. I’ll have to have a word with ‘she who must be obeyed’ (Robyn).
As in many other areas of business life, there are still too few women in the world of credit control and debt collection. When Robyn and I attend events, she is one of a handful in the room. Some women may be deterred from joining the industry by its traditionally macho image but, even if that’s so, ‘softer’ skills, such as mediation, are much in demand now, while specialist legal and finance skills are ever more necessary. If women are being put off, we should do something about it.
The pandemic has hit businesses hard, as we all know, and our sympathy goes to those who have had the carpet pulled from under them financially by this disaster. There are also those who have been less harmed by the stalling of the economy and who are using COVID-19 as an excuse not to pay bills owing from nine months ago. The CSA could usefully highlight this problem.
The CSA launched its own #heretohelp campaign last year, aiming to give people in debt the confidence to talk to CSA members about financial problems, rather than wait for the worst to happen or follow questionable internet advice. This campaign could usefully be highlighted again now at a time when more people than ever are likely to need help.