Pre-Action Protocol

Applicable to debts owed by individuals or sole traders

Pre-Action Protocol for Debt Claims

In 2017, the Ministry of Justice introduced a pre-action protocol for debt claims specifying the type of information, documents and timescale for payment that should be given to your customers.

If you are seeking payment of a debt from an individual or sole trader, you will need to comply with the Pre-Action Protocol for Debt Claims.

This page provides you with all the information, including a video and a free downloadable template letter, to ensure you comply with the protocol.

On 4th May 2021, Breathing Space Regulations also came into force which may impact on the way you collect debts from individuals and sole traders. Click below to find out more information.

What is the aim of this protocol?


To encourage dialogue between you and your customer.


Attempt to resolve the matter without the need for issuing Court proceedings.


To encourage the parties to act in a reasonable and proportionate manner.


To assist with the smooth management of proceedings.

What are you required to put in your letter?

To ensure you send a compliant letter, you are required to include:

  • up to date financial information including details of any interest and administrative charges added to the debt amount;
  • details of the agreement under which the debt is payable. If the agreement was oral, you should say who made the agreement, what was agreed and where the agreement was made;
  • confirmation that further information or a copy of any written agreement can be made available if your customer asks for it;
  • the method and how payment can be made, and details on how to contact you if your customer wants to discuss payment options;
  • a copy of the Reply Form, Information Sheet and Financial Statement Form. Templates are included in the protocol;
  • an address to which your customer can return the Reply Form.

In addition to the above, your letter should be clearly dated and posted within a day of the date stated. The letter should be sent by post unless your customer has explicitly requested it be sent by an alternative method. Note you are not prevented from sending the letter by post and email.

Pre-Action Protocol Flowchart

View a Pre-Action Protocol flowchart to easily learn the options and timescales involved



The Pre-action protocol encourages communication between the parties with the aim of avoiding court action being taken.

This means creditors may have to wait up to 60 days before court proceedings can be issued. The protocol also requires a lot more administrative work when sending your letter.

The court will take into consideration any non-compliance and may penalise any party that it deems has not followed the protocol fully. For example, a successful claimant may not be awarded part or even all of its costs. However, in relation to other protocols, the court has usually looked at whether a failure to follow the protocol made any real difference and does not like people abusing the protocol procedure.

If you are planning to take your customer to court, it is recommended that you send out a compliant letter as soon as the debt becomes due.

Alternatively, Guildways would be happy to send a Pre-Action Protocol Letter on your behalf and we will work the debt on a no collection, no fee basis in accordance with our terms.

Free Template Letter & Guide

Pre-Action Protocol

Download our free Pre-Actional Protocol for Debt Claims Guide and Templates.


Watch our short video

Learn about how the Pre-Action Protocol for Debt Claims works.