If you do not want your supply reconnected
The supplier continues to submit bills regardless of whether or not you want your supply reconnected. You may also incur standing charges. If you do not pay, it may seek recovery of the debt through the small claims court or sell on or assign the debt to a third party (such as a debt collecting agency). In practice, few suppliers or debt collectors try to recover through the County Court, preferring to send letters in the hope of payment. The reason is that in a small claims court action, legal costs cannot normally be recovered. As a result it would cost more to take a case to court than would be recovered, particularly if you have no disposable income, assets, savings or valuable property.
Assuming you agree you are liable for the bill, try to negotiate payment in instalments prior to any legal action. Otherwise, if the supplier has issued a claim in the County Court, you may respond to the claim by completing Form N9a and ask to pay in affordable instalments. In these circumstances, a County Court order is usually granted, with payment in instalments. As long as you honour the terms of the order, further enforcement action should not be taken against you. If the court has already made a court order for payment of the whole debt at once (‘forthwith’), you could apply to have the order varied to payment by instalments. This is undertaken by making an application on Form N245 to suspend a warrant or vary payments made by a court order. Note that this procedure does not apply to warrants granted by magistrates’ courts (see Chapter 10). There is a fee of £14 for this application, unless you are exempt on grounds of low income, for which you have to complete an application for fee exemption on Form EX160. The court should not order you to pay an amount you cannot afford – even if this means you can only afford £1 or £2 a month. However, the courts have established that where a judgment debtor applies to pay a judgment debt by instalments, s/he must put forward a realistic payment schedule for the outstanding debt and a reasonable time frame. If this test is not met, a court should refuse the judgment debtor’s application.1Diana Loson v (1) Brett Stack (2) Newlyn PLC  EWCA Civ 803 You are not liable for the supplier’s legal costs if you lost in the small claims court, which is why suppliers seldom commence recovery proceedings for sums under £10,000 (see Chapter 14). The supplier is only able to claim for its fee in starting proceedings. The fees for issuing a money claim online is cheaper than the fee for a paper claim. The paper fees are:2Court Form EX150A; gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money/court-fees
Sums up to £300
Sums from £300.01 –500
Sums from £500.01 –1,000
Sums from £1,000.01 –1,500
Sums from £1,500.01 –3,000
Sums from £3,000.01 –5,000
Sums from £5,000.01 –10,000
In Scotland, you can apply for a ‘time to pay’ direction before a decree (court order). If you break this arrangement by allowing three instalments to pass unpaid, you lose the right to pay by instalments. If you allow a decree to pass without defending or seeking time to pay, you have to wait until the supplier seeks to enforce the decree before you can ask for a time to pay order. You may be liable for the supplier’s costs if you lose your case, but only if the debt is over £200. If the value is between £200 and £1,500, the maximum amount awarded to the successful party is £150. If the value is between £1,500 and £3,000 the amount awarded is 10 per cent of the value of the claim.