I want to clarify a few things with regards to late payments. Historically, I have suffered at the hands of unscrupulous payers but this year I am being more pro-active and using the legal rights available to me in the UK.

The invoices I write have stated, for some time, that "Payment is on receipt". The reason for this is that I have had instances of people taking a full 30 days and longer to settle an invoice. Adding "Payment on receipt" effectively starts the clock from when I issue the invoice and makes the client know that they should not delay in paying. From what I can make out putting something like "Payment within 30 days" would effectively make the invoice late, in the eyes of the law, 60 days after it was issued which is part of the reason I avoid this.

My question is, I know that I can levy a fixed charge and interest on a late invoice. Can this be charged 30 days after the issuance of an invoice? Is the issuance of the invoice (my invoice) technically when the 30 day "late payment" clock starts running?

Some background - I have a client who has been bought out by a larger company. One invoice is now late depsite chasing for two weeks. The original invoice was dated 21 Dec 2019.


Assumption this is a commercial setting.

the law says the payment is late 30 days after either:

  • the customer gets the invoice
  • you deliver the goods or provide the service (if this is later)

So in answer to your query, no issuing an invoice is not a necessary condition, unless and until the client has received it.


  • Thanks for the response. My invoices are sent via email so can we assume that, if no delivery failure notification has been received, the invoice is "received"? Short of handing the invoice physically to them - ensuring it's in their hands - there's no way to accurately determine this. In this instance, they confirmed one week later on the 28th but only as a side note to some assistance they needed on a different issue. It is possible that some people (most in my experience) do not acknoweldge receipt.
    – Zakalwe
    Jan 24 '20 at 13:34
  • Just to clarify - the billable items were done and dusted so the invoice was not issued prior to completion of what was asked.
    – Zakalwe
    Jan 24 '20 at 13:35
  • @Zakalwe Enable read-receipts on your emails in that case, not sure how feasible that might be for you.
    – DumbCoder
    Jan 24 '20 at 14:30
  • @Zakalwe Proof of service to the satisfaction of the courts is between you and the courts. Email "service" does not meet the standard of any court I am aware of. I gather you want the best of both worlds: the ease of email and yet enforceable service? Efforts have been made to that end, but they require the client to willfully acknowledge the bill. If the client never opens it, nothing you can do. Jan 25 '20 at 15:49

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