We understand the litigation needs of finance providers are varied and range from straightforward debt recovery claims, actions against guarantors, indemnifiers & warrantors, sale of goods and title disputes, claims in conversion together with complex multi-jurisdictional and multi-party fraud claims.
Our team, headed by Andrew Bowden-Brown, has decades of combined experience assisting asset based lenders, invoice financiers and alternative financiers on issues they encounter and the steps that they can take to mitigate them.
Litigation and dispute resolution experience – an overview
Our team has significant experience of dealing with
- claims under guarantees, warranties and indemnities;
- fraud and recovery of assets;
- freezing orders and search orders;
- tracing remedies;
- debtor actions;
- defending claims against asset based lenders / alternative financiers;
- working alongside criminal practitioners and law enforcement agencies in respect of prosecutions against both fraudsters and their co-conspirators and organised crime gangs; and
Understanding the need early intervention
We recognise that our clients prefer to avoid formal litigation if possible.
We therefore work closely with our clients at the earliest stage of a problematic facility, helping where possible to reduce our client’s exposure and minimise the risk of impairment. This need may arise following a poor audit or where there is a suspicion that the facility has been breached and / or a potential breach is imminent.
In these instances, we recognise making formal demand under the facility and issue proceedings might not be the best approach. It can often be better to establish the facts and negotiate with the individuals concerned to either restructure the facility, manage it away or put the client into an insolvency process – but only after you have taken security or reached an agreement as to how you will be paid back.
Our team at Francis Wilks & Jones is often involved in these early steps with clients to try and reduce overall exposure and manage down the risk.
Understanding the need for quick action
Of course, there are situations where a financier must act quickly and take appropriate legal action to protect its position.
Our team at Francis Wilks & Jones is hugely experienced in these situations, often working alongside our colleagues in our commercial team and restructuring and insolvency team, preparing and serving bespoke demands on the financier’s customer and then if required;
- ensuring the appointment of an administrator;
- obtaining urgent injunctive relief (including freezing and search orders and, where appropriate, delivery up orders for the goods (asset finance) or documents (invoice finance) owned by the financier pursuant to the terms of its facility documentation);
- making demand upon any surety / guarantor / indemnifier of any facility; and / or
- demanding the immediate engagement of the target’s credit control team to recover books and records relating to the outstanding debts in an effort to maximise debtor recoveries.
Book debt recoveries and entire ledger collect outs
Either working with the financier or the administrator, we are also able to deal with the recovery of the book debts (ranging from individual accounts to entire ledgers).
More detail of our expertise in this area can be found on our debt recovery pages, but in summary we have state of the art collection software specifically designed to maximise our clients’ recoveries. When needed, we can immediately commence proceedings for the full outstanding balance owed, together with additional claims for statutory interest and compensation through our automated Money online court link up.
Our debt recovery expertise also involves the use of statutory demands, winding up petitions orders or bankruptcy orders against companies and individuals to help maximise recoveries.
Defending claims against financiers
It is a fact of modern life that claims are brought against financiers. These include claims by current or former clients, claims by insolvency practitioners and / or trade bodies and / or regulators.
- we are experts in dealing with claims of this nature, balancing the need to defend such claims with the wider reputational issues which are often at play;
- our experience covers complaints for and on behalf of asset based lenders and invoice financiers to the Ombudsman Services and / or the Financial Ombudsman Service;
- we have considerable experience of dealing with national and local pPress and / or the media, including claims for defamation and / or injunctive relief, as well as dealing with threats and negative posts on social media.
In the asset finance arena, we act for both banks and independent financiers to structure their facilities and recovery their assets. We will often be instructed to seek injunctive relief and / or delivery up orders in relation to motor vehicles and plant and machinery (as well as other high-value assets).
Alongside this work, we will also regularly deal with
- claims for conversion;
- innocent / bona fide purchaser for value claims and defences; and
- Sales of Goods Act claims (commonly, satisfactory quality and fit for purpose issues) as well as claims against guarantors and warrantors.
During his 10 month secondment with Barclays, Andrew Bowden-Brown was the sole in-house litigation specialist for the asset finance (as well as invoice finance) division and dealt with all issues, from operational to recovery to contingent exit strategy planning, across the marine, aviation and more traditional asset finance products.
Secured lenders and bridging companies
Alongside those industries, we have significant experience in acting for secured lenders (both short and long-term), particularly bridging companies. Again, we can both structure the deal (including the preparation of bespoke facility and / or security documents) and act on the financier’s behalf to recover the asset or any shortfall following an event of default arising. Where relevant, we work closely with law of property act receivers to ensure that a positive recovery is achieved.
Training and education
Our team regularly lecture to members of UK Finance and provides bespoke training to asset based lenders, banks and financial institutions on key issues relating to, amongst other things, fraud, fraud prevention, common litigation issues, misrepresentation, undue influence and duress as well as the taking and enforcement of corporate and personal “security”.
We offer a range of pricing structures (either on a global or case-specific basis), such as fixed fee, performance based (i.e. a percentage based upon recoveries) or on a contingent basis and are happy to discuss your individual requirements with you.
Whatever your enquiry or situation, one of our expert team is here to help.