Client non payment

I've recently started out as a self employed accountant. Unfortunately I am already struggling to get payment from one client for work I have carried out. The invoices stated payment was due immediately and I have sent 2 further email reminders. The letter of engagement stated I reserve the right to stop work in the event of non payment. The invoices are just over 2 weeks overdue, my emails to the client have been ignored but they have been in contact about other matters.

My main problem is that as I am starting out I am only taking on a small amount of work until I get my bearings, I still have quite a lot of work to do for this particular client which I am reluctant to do until I am reassured I will get paid for my time, however I am conscious I do not want to upset a client so early on. I would therefore appreciate any advice on how others (particularly those self employed on a small scale) deal with these issues, should I accept it and keep reminding or cease to act for him? Whilst I potentially have their work to do it's preventing me from taking on more clients, however if this is the norm I appreciate I may have to be more patient.


  • leross
    leross Registered Posts: 19
    @Mickdundee that's what I originally thought, but the clients replied to one of my emails to discuss something else with no mention to the content of my email
  • Neillaw
    Neillaw MAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 301 Dedicated contributor 🌟 🐵 🌟
    Don't ask, Don't get.
    I have a couple of clients who are generally slow to pay and have now requested half up front and full payment before submission, you have to be commercial about it and put them on stop.

    I appreciate that your starting up and getting clients are tough but you don't want to be straddled with non or slow payers. I've now started to put my bills up for the slow payers to cover costs or to shed them completely, they are the ones that want your attention the most but don't like the bill.

    There also the ones that "don't want to pay tax!"
  • leross
    leross Registered Posts: 19
    Thanks for the advice @Neillaw, I plan on calling the client tomorrow and giving them a further week to make payment. If I don't receive it within that time I will explain I can no longer act for them. They are one of my biggest clients which is great but as I said before having their work hanging over me is preventing me taking on additional clients, this early on that is an inconvenience that could be detrimental to the growth of my business, as you say not a situation I want to be straddled with.
  • leross
    leross Registered Posts: 19
    Hi all, I spoke to the client Tuesday, I was assured I'd receive the outstanding payments that evening. To date it still remains outstanding. My plan is to wait until Monday, if I still haven't received anything send a final reminder email (so I have it in writing) stating if I don't receive the payment by next Friday I will no longer be able to act for them and I will be returning their paperwork, explaining as a sole trader (which the client is aware) I will not have the time to complete the work before his deadlines due to the time I have lost waiting for payment. I'd appreciate your opinions on whether this is an acceptable course of action. Thank you.
  • CSan89
    CSan89 MAAT Posts: 207
    I would post a letter too just so they have received a hard copy as well.
    AAT Level 2&3 - 2016
    AAT Level 4 - 2017
    Personal Tax, Business Tax and External Auditing

    ACA/CTA -
    Certificate Level - Jan 2019
  • burg
    burg Moderator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,441
    I suggest you review how clients pay you going forward. We have some older clients who do not pay monthly (which is changing) but we take card and will not file to HMRC / CH until paid.
    The default for clients is however monthly direct debits and we can quickly identify non-payers before it gets too much.

  • leross
    leross Registered Posts: 19
    @burg normally I request payment upfront prior to submission which has not been a problem, I'd also be happy to put in place direct debits for those wanting to spread the cost. This particular client had left everything til the last minute, to a certain degree blaming the previous accountant, so stupidly I completed what needed to be done urgently without live and learn and hindsight is a wonderful thing!
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