Late payment of commercial debts calculator
Interest & compensation
Information in tinted fields is required.
The program tries to calculate as you go along: it flags values it has supplied in this colour and it prompts for information it still needs in this colour .
Hitting the [SHOW CALCULATION...] button gives explanations of any errors or missing information and displays the interest calculation in a pop-up window, which you can print out (if your web browser program allows it to do all that).
Members of the National Union of Journalists who are having difficulty persuading a client to pay up should see the Collect-o-matic! form.
You should issue a formal invoice for the interest and compensation due to you. This should mention the legislation under which it is issued - in the UK that is the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 (as amended). Send this invoice with a "statement" itemising this and your original invoice and giving the total due.
This has been updated to take account of changes effective across the European Union from 16 March 2013 - which remain in force in the UK. To calculate interest due in other member states see this tool from the European Commission.
Really detailed contracts specify a "jurisdiction" - the country where you agree to go to court. This also decides whether you can claim interest and debt recovery cost compensation, and how much. As a rule of thumb, unless otherwise specified in a contract the jurisdiction is the country your client operates in.
Under EU regulations updated with effect from 16 March 2013, and still in effect in the UK, by default payment is due 30 days after:
- your client became aware of how much they owed you, or
- you delivered or did the work, or
- any "procedure of acceptance or verification" of the work that is specified in the contract is complete (see note 3),
If payment is delayed beyond this date, interest is payable at a penalty rate, plus compensation for debt recovery costs.
After filling in the relevant dates and amounts, click [SHOW CALCULATION...] to get a detailed account of the interest and compensation, and see any error messages.
- The 30-day rule is overridden if you agreed a different due date when you took the work on.
- If your client is a public body, it should not let the clock tick for more than 30 days.
- If your client is not a public body, it can ask you to agree to be paid later - after up to 60 days of clock-ticking. In fact it can ask you to agree to even later payment - but this must not be "grossly unfair".
- If your actual costs in recovering the debt are greater than the statutory minimum compensation, you can claim your total actual costs.
For clarity, we repeat: unless you explicitly agree otherwise, payment is still due 30 days after the clock starts ticking.
The regulations authorise your union to act on your behalf against clients that try to impose contracts that are "grossly unfair" or circumvent the penalties. If you are an NUJ member and think you have been "offered" such a contract, contact the Freelance Office.
Your client can ask for a "procedure of acceptance or verification". This should not take more than 30 days. You may be asked to agree a longer period, but this must not be "grossly unfair".
The exact meaning of "procedure of acceptance or verification" probably will not become clear until a court case has gone as far as the Court of Appeal. Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org if you sight one of these in a contract.
We believe that publishing or broadcasting your work should constitute acceptance, whatever the contract says.
Once again: payment is still due 30 days after invoice or delivery unless such a "procedure" is specified in your contract with your client, and unless a longer period is specified therein.
If you just agreed on the phone "650 words by 4pm" then you have an oral contract, but it ain't specifying anything else.
The NUJ recommends that when work has been commissioned and carried out satisfactorily according to the brief, it should be paid for in full. If publishers over-commission or change their minds, that should be their problem. Many publishers, however, offer "kill fees" of 50 per cent to 67 per cent in the hope you'll accept that, shut up and go away. Your having read this far may suggest otherwise.
Repeating some of Note 2 in more normal English... usually there is one of two stories to tell. Either:
- On Monday 19/06/2023 you agree to do a piece of work - and you agree then and there how much you will be paid. You deliver the work, as agreed, on time, on Thursday 22/06/2023. So the clock starts ticking on this, the second date. The payment falls overdue 30 days later, which is Saturday 22/06/2023.
- On Monday 19/06/2023 you agree to do a piece of work - and, say, you agree that you'll let your client know later on what the expenses are. You deliver the work, as agreed, on time, on Thursday 22/06/2023. But this time the clock doesn't start ticking until the client knows formally how much they owe. Late on Saturday 24/06/2023 you get around to invoicing for the work and expenses. Allowing the usual two working days for the post (even though you're probably emailing the invoice!) your client is certainly aware how much they owe you by the Wednesday, 28/06/2023. The payment is overdue 30 days after that, which is 26/07/2023.
Note that though this program knows about weekends, it doesn't know about state holidays. If the due date is counted from the date on which you sent an invoice, please adjust it if necessary.
Again, remember that both these stories assume that your client didn't persuade you to agree some other payment terms, or vice versa.