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Suppose one party owes another something (because of contract or tort, I presume the exact reason doesn't matter). The debtor refuses to pay so the creditor instructs a solicitor to send them a grumpy letter, and then they pay up.

Can the creditor still sue the debtor for the legal costs associated in collecting the debt even though it is paid?

Is this something that people do successfully when small amounts are involved? Will courts award the costs of suing as well?

Would you effectively be suing for "zero plus costs"?

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  • What kind of letter? A letter before action? Sep 13 at 17:38
  • I don't know what kind of letter you might send in this situation, but basically a letter that says "pay what you owe or the next step might be to sue".
    – Tom V
    Sep 13 at 20:45
  • You can't sue before you have sent a Letter Before Action and allowed time to comply (UK County Court rules) and you can't claim for the cost of the letter if they don't pay before court action. So in your scenario, where they have already paid, the answer is 'no'. Any decent solicitor would tell you these things anyway. Sep 13 at 21:51
  • @MichaelHarvey: thanks for the info! I just read the practice direction rules. It says that costs incurred complying with the pre-action protocol cannot be recovered if they are disproportionate. Doesn't this imply that they can be recovered otherwise?
    – Tom V
    Sep 14 at 11:04
  • There is a standard set of fees for LBAs, £50 I think. You might get that, but the cost of lodging the claim would be around the same, so why bother? Court action to 'prove a point' or 'get satisfaction' is strongly discouraged and such a case might not get a sympathetic ear from a County Court judge. Sep 14 at 11:08

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