How you serve a demand varies according to who you are serving it on - whether an individual or a company.
Individual or sole trader
If an individual or a sole trader owes you money, you must do everything you can to bring the statutory demand to the attention of the person concerned and, if possible, serve it personally.
You can employ a process server to do this for you - a process server serves court and legal documents on behalf of:
- local authorities
- government agencies
- private individuals
If the debtor is avoiding service, you could:
- Send the demand by first class post or put it through their letterbox. If you do this yourself and later present a bankruptcy petition to this person, you will need to complete a certificate of service - verified by a statement of truth (form 6.12) - explaining the steps you took to serve the statutory demand, how you served it and on what date you believe they saw it. For further information, see the page in this guide on proof of serving a statutory demand.
- Advertise the statutory demand in a newspaper. To do this, the money must be owed under a judgment or order of any court, you must know or believe that the debtor has left their address or is keeping out of your way to avoid service. You must also believe that you would not be able to recover the money owing to you by enforcing the court order.
Registered limited company
If a registered limited company owes you money, you can serve a statutory demand by delivering it to the company's registered office. If you cannot do this, you can send one by registered post. The demand will be properly served if the company acknowledges it by signing the Post Office receipt.
Unregistered limited company
If an unregistered limited company owes you money, you may serve the statutory demand by:
- leaving it at the company's main place of business
- delivering it to the company secretary, manager or principal officer of the company
- serving it in a way directed or approved by the court
Statutory demand forms
In order to issue a statutory demand, you must complete the correct forms, and this depends on who you are serving the demand on. For guidance on the forms you need, see the page in this guide: what should a statutory demand contain?
You will need proof of service, if you intend to carry on with debt recovery proceedings after the debtor has not paid the statutory demand. For further information, see the page in this guide on proof of serving a statutory demand.
How to serve a statutory demand abroad
You should serve a statutory demand abroad in the same way as in the UK. However, the time limit to comply with the demand is 28 days and to apply to set aside (dismiss) the demand is 22 days.
For further guidance on setting aside a statutory demand, see the page in this guide on what to do if you are served with a statutory demand.
There are some restrictions on you being able to present a bankruptcy petition if a debtor who lives abroad fails to comply with a statutory demand. For example:
- If the debtor lives in a European Union (EU) member state other than Denmark, you will not be able to present a bankruptcy petition against that person if they carry on business or earn their living in that EU country.
- If the person is retired or unemployed, the court will look at the place they normally live. You have to make the person bankrupt under the law of the country where they normally work or live.
- If the debtor lives in a country that is not in the EU or if they live in Denmark, then you will be able to present a bankruptcy petition only if they have lived or had a residency here, or carried on business here at any time in the three years preceding the date you present the bankruptcy petition. The only exception is if they are in Northern Ireland on that day.
It may not be necessary to serve a statutory demand at all. If you have previously obtained a court order, you can ask the court to enforce it. You can find guidance on enforcing a court judgement on the Northern Ireland Court Service website. You can present a bankruptcy or winding-up petition without serving a statutory demand if enforcement fails to get some or all of the money, and if the debt is more than £750.