Can I still take legal action to recover money that is owed to the business?
You will need to check the terms of the contract you have with the debtor to make sure you are still entitled to be paid (including checking any force majeure clause).
It is also important to remember that the current exceptional circumstances might also affect your contractual rights in other ways too – please see our commercial & contracts site for more information.
Depending on the type of debt you are owed, there might be some additional restrictions in place that you will need to consider. For example there are certain restrictions on landlords being able to forfeit leases, evict tenants or send High Court Enforcement Officers to collect outstanding rent.
Assuming there are no sector-specific restrictions in place then you should be able to start county or high court proceedings to recover the debt.
As an alternative to starting court proceedings, if the debt is undisputed a creditor can usually opt to issue winding up proceedings against a debtor instead. However, the recently introduced Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act introduces a temporary suspension on the ability of creditors to present winding up petitions to recover money unless the reason why the debtor cannot pay is not related to covid-19. For more information click here.
Often taking firm action is the right thing to do, particularly given that it is a sad reality that it is the creditor who shouts the loudest that will often get paid first. However, one important consideration is the commercial reality that many businesses (and indeed individuals) now find themselves in.
Whether taking legal action is likely to result in payment is always a question any creditor should ask themselves. Some creditors might also want to try to support their customers during these difficult times and/or have concerns about their long term reputation if they pursue the debt too aggressively. However, even if that is the case it is still possible to engage constructively and positively with those who owe you money to try to reach the best possible outcome. This could include:
- Having clear and consistent credit control processes in place
- Obtaining statements of means to help understand what a debtor can afford to pay
- Agreeing realistic payment plans
- Negotiating formal payment holidays
- Putting in place voluntary security to secure the debt
- Identifying those debtors who can’t pay as opposed to won’t pay and targeting resources accordingly
- Looking at what other options might be available, including recovering under parent company guarantees
Unfortunately, losses caused by pandemics are not often covered expressly under standard policies, as the risk has been difficult for insurers to price and understand.
Even where additional cover in respect of notifiable diseases has been purchased, it typically will not include Covid-19 within the range of diseases covered by the policy. If the policy includes a list of notifiable diseases, and which does not include Covid-19, it is very unlikely that cover will be available for pandemic-relates losses.
The most common types of covers that could be afforded by insurance policies for coronavirus-related losses and liabilities are traditional business interruption insurance, contingent business interruption insurance, liability insurance, as well as cancellation and abandonment insurance.
There should be some data collected as to the type and number of interactions MHFA are having, to ensure no one individual or individuals are overloaded. MHFAs should be encouraged to maintain regular self-care practice, to lean in to all support provisions available in their organisation, to engage in peer support, and to take a break from their role as a MHFA to prioritise their own wellbeing as needed. It is also important that those who volunteer to be MHFAs have the support of their managers. So they have the time to do both their core role and their MHFA duties without feeling pressurised to cram work into spare time to make up for time spent on MHFA duties.
See above FAQ about whether you can demand that your employee has the vaccine.
Dismissal for failing to follow a reasonable instruction would be a possibility but it should be the last resort.
First you will need to be able to show that you have reasonable grounds for insisting that they have the vaccine. You will then need to demonstrate that you have taken into consideration the reasons why the employee has refused and why they are not considered reasonable. Before taking a decision to dismiss you should look at alternatives such as other duties/other roles.
The General Medical Council (GMC) have published guidance online for doctors during this time of uncertainty.
Alongside this, their website displays guidance for temporary registration to approximately 15,000 doctors, who left the register or gave up their licence to practise in the last three years.
These clinicians have been contacted to assist with the growing pandemic, outlining the process they would follow and informing them of their right to opt-out. The Secretary of State for Health can ask the GMC to grant such registration under Section 18a of the Medical Act 1983, in an emergency.
The duty is to inform and consult appropriate representatives of the “affected employees”.
Note that the term “affected employees” means those who may be “affected by the proposed dismissals or who may be affected by measures taken in connection with those dismissals”. The term extends beyond those immediately at risk of dismissal to include those affected by measures associated with the redundancies.
“Appropriate representatives” can be:
- The Trade Union (if recognised)
- (For any roles not covered by collective recognition) any existing standing body of elected or appointed employee representatives (if already in place)
- Employee representatives, who are elected specifically for redundancy consultation