Statutory demands

Serving a statutory demand

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:

  • solicitors
  • lawyers
  • local authorities
  • government agencies
  • companies
  • 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 - 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 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.

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

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 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. The NI Court Service provide guidance on enforcing a court judgement.

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.


    Developed with:

    The Insolvency Service