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Who Represents Who

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Aberdein Considine has ‘a superb collection rate’, which is supported by its ‘innovative case management processes’; it provides ‘a high-quality service whilst maintaining value for money’. Led by the ‘extremely drivenRob Aberdein, the team undertakes a wide range of matters, including mortgage recoveries, motor finance and asset finance recoveries, and commercial and corporate recoveries, for an impressive roster of lenders such as RBS, Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide and Santander. Other clients include public sector organisations, including the Scottish Legal Aid Board and NHS Scotland, as well as a number of SMEs. Aberdein is ably assisted by the ‘professional, timely and extremely knowledgeableLeonie Donald, fellow partners Paul McIntosh and Ross Webb, and associates Elaine Elder and Catriona Milne. The firm expanded its reach in Scotland, and further afield, following its acquisitions of A&S Ireland in Glasgow and Wallers in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Brodies LLP is a ‘forward-thinking law firm’ with a multifaceted practice spanning areas such as insolvency-related recoveries, consumer finance debt recoveries and commercial finance debt recoveries. Stephen Goldie, who has more than 11 years of experience of property-related debt recoveries, heads the debt and asset recovery team, which has a breadth and depth of expertise making it well placed to handle volume and bespoke instructions, and also provide day-to-day support to banks, utilities companies, debt recovery agencies and insolvency practitioners. Iain Rutherford jointly manages the volume debt recovery practice with Goldie. Other key figures include managing associate Ricky Cannon, who provides ‘excellent advice’ and ‘gets to the point’; and associates Caitlin McNeish, Laura McMillan and new recruit Philip Hall, who joined from Shoosmiths in 2016. Santander Consumer Finance, Business Stream, Park’s of Hamilton and Moneybarn are all clients.

Morton Fraser acts for a broad client base of financial institutions, large corporates and business partnerships, as well as public sector bodies such as Transport Scotland, the Scottish Prison Service and Aberdeen City Council. In addition, as a part of the Fraudnet network, an International Chamber of Commerce organisation whose members specialise in fraud matters, it assists clients with recovering assets located worldwide. Led by Maggie Moodie, the team’s broad cross-section of experience includes asset and invoice-based finance, consumer credit debts and business-to-business debts. Recently promoted partner Nicola Ross, senior solicitor Debbie Brogan and director of debt and asset recovery Bill Stark assisted Ferrari Financial Services with pursuing a customer for an outstanding balance of circa £86,500, which arose from a hire purchase agreement the parties had entered into. Senior associate Claire Logue leads a dedicated team that focuses on debt recovery actions in England and Wales for clients such as Startline Motor Finance, Hombuckle Mitchell Trustees and the Ministry of Defence. Graeme Matheson joined from BLM, while Joel Conn moved to Mitchells Roberton.

Shoosmiths is ‘one of the best in the market, in terms of value for money’. Rod Macphail, who leads the debt recovery team in Scotland, works with Andrew Foyle and others to handle the full range of matters for financial services clients, including mortgage shortfall recoveries, asset finance recoveries, receivables finance and commercial lending. Foyle is representing a bank in a secured recoveries case against a customer who is arguing that the client failed to comply with certain mandatory pre-action requirements before seeking to repossess the customer’s property. The group, which has vast experience of all aspects of pre-and-post-litigation collections, also draws upon its strengths in the insolvency arena to manage related recoveries. The ‘approachable’ associate Peter McGladrigan is recommended, as is recoveries manager David Smith. Rhona Cuthbert, who has more than 20 years of debt recovery experience, is particularly knowledgeable about asset finance litigation and recoveries. Other areas of strength for the team include business-to-business recoveries, and work for utilities companies and public sector organisations. Close Asset Finance, Merchant Money, DM Hall and KPMG are notable clients. Stuart Clubb joined from HBJ Gateley.

Ascent Legal Scotland’s outstanding reputation is underpinned by its notable base of lender clients, which includes Lloyd Banking Group, RBS and Santander. The firm recently won new mandates from debt purchaser Cabot and housebuilder Persimmon, as well as Whistletree. The team is particularly strong in the secured recoveries space (matters typically involving mortgages), where it handles undefended cases, as well as more complex, defended matters. The group also handles motor finance cases, unsecured finance matters (involving personal loans and credit cards) and commercial recoveries. Key figures include chairman Mark Higgins and Myra Scott; Scott, who is on the panel of accredited debt recovery specialists, has particular expertise in fraud-related matters, while Higgins is a published author on the enforcement of heritable securities. Higgins and John Di Paola acted for Mortgage Express in Mortgage Express v Main, a ground-breaking case heard at the Sheriff Appeal Court, where clarification was provided on the interpretation of certain aspects of the Conveyancing and Feudal Reform (Scotland) Act. Senior associate Laura Browne is another key individual in the team, which has its own in-house Sheriff Officers.

Harper Macleod LLP’s strength in social housing informs much of the debt and asset recovery team’s workload, which includes a significant amount of work for registered social landlords and housing associations. The group raises actions for payments of debt, handles post-judgment enforcement action for recovery of debts (including rent arrears and other types of arrears) from tenants and also manages actions for recovery of possession of property (including instances involving antisocial behaviour by tenants). Clients include Grampian Housing Association and Scottish Borders Housing Association. The team also has a strong following among public bodies, including the Accountant in Bankruptcy, North Lanarkshire Council and the Child Maintenance Group, part of the Department for Work and Pensions. Work for private sector businesses is another pillar of the practice. Dawn McKenzie leads the team, which includes associates Natalie Dissake and Fiona McLeod.

Maclay Murray & Spens LLPdemonstrates a well-organised and professional approach to debt recovery, with a focus on client satisfaction’. The practice handles volume and bespoke instructions for banks and building societies, finance houses, debt purchasers and leasing companies, with particular strengths in utilities recoveries, claims in relation to motor vehicles (including motor finance), consumer debt recovery and consumer credit law. The group also advises on debts arising from employment contracts. In addition to handling Scottish and UK work, the firm’s membership of the Lex Mundi network generates multi-jurisdictional mandates. Douglas Blyth, who ‘simplifies the process to obtain the best results’, is advising Indigo Infra Dundee (as the operator) on the recovery of private parking charges at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee. Frank Johnstone leads the team, which assists RCI Financial Services with its UK-wide post-termination collections and litigation. Other clients include Toyota Financial Services UK Limited, Aviva and Clydesdale Bank. In recent developments, Julie Devlin and Craig Kennedy were appointed as directors, Florinda Soldani made associate and Michael McGrath was promoted to senior solicitor.

TLT primarily undertakes secured and unsecured recoveries work for banks and companies (ranging from high-growth companies to blue-chip national and international corporates), with a weighting towards the former client. Key clients include Barclays Bank, Lloyds Banking Group and UK Asset Resolution. The firm also generates a number of instructions from public sector bodies. Tom McEntegart (head of banking recoveries in Scotland) and John Paul Sheridan (head of commercial recoveries in Scotland) are the key partners in the team, which manages volume and bespoke debt and asset recovery matters at all stages, from pre-litigation collection to court litigation and post-judgment enforcement action. Legal director Louise Chopra and associate Lucy Harington regularly appear before Sheriff courts throughout Scotland.

Addleshaw Goddard, which entered the Scottish market following its merger with HBJ Gateley, has a core debt recovery team that is complemented by additional expertise in disciplines such as banking and finance, property, insolvency and litigation, enabling the firm to provide a comprehensive range of solutions to clients. The team’s experience spans various types of consumer and commercial agreements, including hire purchase, consumer credit and trade debts. In the social housing space, the group assists Scottish registered social landlords with recovering rent and other types of arrears from tenants. Yvonne Gallacher, who has more than 20 years of debt recovery experience, joined from Anderson Strathern. Debt recovery head Alan Sinclair is experienced in high-value and defended debt recovery matters; a recent highlight involved assisting a local authority with recovering tax from an individual with a large property portfolio that was partially subject to council tax and partially subject to non-domestic rates. Solicitor advocate Lynsey Walker, who made partner in 2016, acts for clients such as banks, administrators and insolvency practitioners. Associates Ilona McGowan and Laura McCabe are also recommended.

Anderson Strathern assists a wide variety of clients with recovering secured and unsecured debts, including registered social landlords, banks (and other financial institutions), SMEs and public bodies. Key clients include UK Visas and Immigration, Midlothian Council, CR Smith Windows and PSFM Sipp Limited. The team provides an extensive service, which covers pre-litigation letters before action, court proceedings and enforcement action. In 2016, a team including Fraser Geddes, Dominic Scullion, senior associate Gillian Jamieson and Karen Ogilvie assisted Lusona Consultancy (Professional Practice) with negotiating a settlement with a charted accountant over unpaid finders’ fees and additional expenses. Other key clients include Britannia, which practice head (and solicitor advocate) Fiona Stephen, senior associate Claire Martin and others advise on pursuing Scottish secured debts, including managing property repossession actions following defaults on mortgage repayments.

BTO Solicitors LLP handles secured and unsecured debt recoveries, as well as insolvency-related recoveries. Dorothy Hatfield has particular experience of matters involving fraud-related issues. The firm acts for clients including SMEs, registered social landlords, insolvency practitioners, banks and other financial institutions. In addition to handling Scottish recoveries work, the firm’s membership of Mackrell International (a network of international law firms) sees it regularly advise on matters with cross-border issues. Practice head Grant Hunter, solicitor advocate Tony Jones and senior solicitor Ross Campbell are representing Highland Wood Energy in litigation centred on Highland Council’s purported early termination of a biomass heating contract on the grounds of alleged material non-performance by the client. The client refutes the allegation, and seeks payment of more than £200,000 of unpaid invoices for fuel supplies. Other recommended individuals include David Young, who made partner in 2016, consultant Robin Macpherson, associate Kirsteen Maclean, and senior solicitors Ross Campbell and Jamie Reekie.

MacRoberts LLP’s expertise covers a wide range of industries, although it is particularly notable in the construction, property management and food and drink sectors, and has marked an uptick in mandates from water utility companies. Clients include Cemex UK Operations, The Bellhaven Group and Speirs Gumley Property Management. Team head Leon Breakey has more than 13 years of experience in the debt recovery space, with particular specialism in handling insolvency-related recoveries for liquidators and administrators. In addition to handling volume recovery work related to undefended claims, the group works with the wider commercial litigation team on more complex matters. Debt recovery manager Jane Lewis is also recommended.

Shepherd and Wedderburn’s debt and asset recovery group, which is drawn from the firm’s wider litigation practice, is primarily active in matters related to the financial services, real estate and housing sectors. Work for social landlords includes the recovery of rent and factoring charges, as well as property repossessions. Other clients include fund managers, institutional investors, liquidators and administrators, banks and building societies. Elaine Brailsford, who has more than two decades of experience in this space, leads the team, which includes Gillian Carty, Alastair Frood and John MacKenzie.

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Legal Developments in Scotland for Debt recovery

  • Finding the 
right words

    In the recent case of Newbury v Sun Microsystems [2013], the defendant argued that an offer to settle proceedings was ‘in principle' only and that a binding contract could not be formed until further terms had been agreed and a formal contract had been signed. It supported this argument by referring to a statement, in the offer letter, that the settlement was to be ‘recorded in a suitably worded agreement'. 

    - Macfarlanes

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