If you want to get paid for your work , consult a lawyer early on in the process

Business owners beware that there are many risks in selling services or goods without getting paid up front. Whether you are a retail supplier, a construction contractor (or subcontractor) or in the service industry, you have no doubt done business on credit, meaning you have done the work before getting paid. It may be a sign of tough economic times that I am hearing more and more from business people struggling because they have provided goods or services for which they were never paid. It is a vicious cycle for business owners: they are not being paid by their customers, and therefore struggle to pay their debts to banks, other service providers, etc.

In response to an unpaid debt, creditors have several options available:


  • A contractor or subcontractor can take a lien on an owner’s property for unpaid amounts;
  • a contractor or subcontractor can make a claim under a construction bond (like an insurance policy; especially applicable in government projects);

Service Industries

  • a service provider can sue a debtor for breach of contract on an amount owing;
  • If successful at trial, the service provider, who becomes a judgment creditor, can then register the judgment on that debtor’s real property;
  • The judgment creditor can register the judgment on the Personal Property Registry against the debtor’s personal property;
  • The judgment creditor can examine the debtor in front of the Clerk of the Court to learn more about the debtor’s financial situation and what property the debtor has to assist in payment of the debt;
  • The judgment creditor may also receive an order for seizure and sale by a sheriff of the debtor’s personal property;

Regardless of the type of business or the means through which the business may attempt to force a debtor to pay, creditors must speak to a lawyer early in the process, as statutes and bonds have strict deadlines. Failure to make a claim within these deadlines can leave you with few options to recover debts.

If you have questions about your particular debt recovery issue, contact us to schedule a free initial consultation.