The Civil Procedure Rule Committee is still considering introducing a new Pre-Action Protocol for Debt Claims, as well as updating the other pre-action protocols. However, it remains to be seen whether this will be implemented following a consultation. The CPRC has now said that the subcommittee should be widened further and that they will be writing shortly to invite a number of organisations to join the subcommittee and meet to review the current draft of the protocol. The meeting is unlikely to happen until May. The existing Pre-Action Conduct PAP is likely to be published shortly without the debt material included.
The draft protocol, which would have applied to any business (including a sole trader) claiming payment of a debt from an individual (including a sole trader) would have revolutionised the way in which debt claims are made and do away with perceived heavy handed debt collection practices and result in the increased use of ADR and mediation in debt claims. Like the other pre-action protocols, the debt protocol as drafted would have encouraged the parties to resolve the matter without the need to start court proceedings, exchange early and full information about the matter and consider using an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) procedure. Failure to do so could have resulted in a costs order being made against the creditor. Unsurprisingly, creditors were not happy about delaying recovery by having to undertake ADR and it is equally unsurprising therefore if this protocol is shelved for the time being or radically revised.