Robyn and I pride ourselves on being knowledgeable about our field and our clients.

But we work with a diverse range of businesses from building to baking and each has its own legal and financial issues where it sometimes pays to have specific expert insight.

In the last year, we’ve been working with Richard Brackenbury of Fraser Brown Solicitors in Nottingham.

Richard is a construction law specialist and bringing him in to work on a case is the equivalent of bringing in the wrecking ball when your efforts to knock down a wall with the sledgehammer have come to naught.

Sub-contractor to building trade

Take the case we had recently where a client of ours was owed around £150,000. The client is a sub-contractor to the building trade and ‘subbies’, as they are known, all too often find themselves chasing late payments from the main contractor.

In this case, the money had been outstanding for some months with the contractor refusing to budge until Richard entered the picture.

“What you often find is that the people who owe the money will hold out longer if they see the other side has no specific expertise in that industry,” Richard says.

“They hope it will take someone without knowledge of the particular rules and laws of their sector so long to identify a course of action that their creditor will either give up or accept a lower payment – much lower in some cases. But once the debtor knows there’s an expert on board, who can cut to the chase, things move much quicker.”

Adjudication process

In this case, Richard proposed the case should go to adjudication, a process whereby the case is reviewed by an adjudicator – not a judge but who has with similar powers to compel payment and is often a specifically qualified surveyor.

Once an adjudication award is made, the debtor has to pay up within a specified period.

In fact, just wielding the word ‘adjudication’ was enough to unblock the negotiations.

“It was the threat of adjudication that made the contractor pay up so we didn’t even have to embark on the process,” Richard adds. “Happily, we didn’t have to accept a deal and take a lower amount either and they paid the sub-contractor the entire amount he was owed.”

Calling on specialist expertise like Richard’s is one of the range of benefits we can offer our clients to help them get the money they are entitled to.

It definitely pays off to have someone on board who sends the signal to the other side that you really mean business.