By Samuel McMahon

13 May 2014

One of the most important parts of running a business is debtor management. But inevitably, however well you manage your customers, sometimes a customer will not pay, either because he or she can’t pay, or he or she no longer wants to. The time eventually comes round for enforcement.

One aspect which often lets businesses down is poor debtor management, specifically when the need arises to enforce a debt is the lack of adequate details about work performed and materials used. Courts often do not take invoices at face value. If tested in Court, the Magistrate usually requires the following:

  • A detailed breakdown of every hour worked;
  • The identity of the person who did the work;
  • A breakdown of every item of material used; and
  • Evidence of the cost of that material.

There is in most cases no better evidence of this than a diary entry made on the day of the work that was done. In contrast, if you wait until the time comes around to issue an invoice to estimate in retrospect what work has been done, and the cost of the work is challenged, the risk you run is that a Magistrate may choose to disagree with your estimate and discount your invoice significantly.

Clients who are most often caught out are clients in situations where there was originally a fixed-price contract, but some disagreement or other obstacle arises and the whole project is not completed as originally planned. In this case, often there is a scramble to work out exactly what has been done, when, and by whom. Also, materials used may not have been recorded in detail or at all and need to be back-estimated. Keeping a work diary in fixed-price contracts may appear unnecessary at the outset, but if things don’t go to plan it can be invaluable in backing up your claim.

We recommend the following:

  • Keep a record of all work done and all materials used
  • Record it on the day the work is done or the materials used
  • Record whether or not you think you will need the record later.

Good record-keeping is invaluable in strengthening a case to get the money you deserve from a customer who doesn’t want to pay.


For more information please contact Samuel McMahon or a member of the Dispute Litigation Team.

Related Articles

View All
Commercial Contracts & Agreements / Employment Law / Litigation & Dispute Resolution

New Limitations On Fixed Term Employment Contracts – Employers need to know what they don’t know!

As of today (6 December 2023), there will be new rules that impact the use of fixed term employment contracts These are...
Read More
Litigation & Dispute Resolution / Wills, Estates & Probate / Health & Aged Care

Do I need Probate? What is it?

When someone passes away, Probate is obtained by the executor of the deceased’s Will (or administrator if someone...
Read More
Leasing & Lease Disputes / Litigation & Dispute Resolution

We Won a Billboard!

Tisher Liner FC Law has won a brilliant new billboard, owing to achieving recent success for our client in the County...
Read More
Employment Law / Litigation & Dispute Resolution / Commercial Contracts & Agreements

Real Estate Agent Commission Victory shakes up Fair Entitlements Guarantee (FEG) Scheme

Tisher Liner FC Law has been acting on behalf of one such ‘eligible employee’ over the past three (3) years Our...
Read More
Commercial Law / Employment Law / Litigation & Dispute Resolution

International Women’s Day 2023: Embrace Equity

Have you ever wondered why the hallmark colours of International Women’s Day are vibrant purple, bold green and stark...
Read More
Litigation & Dispute Resolution

When the trust is gone – Shareholder relief under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth)

Sometimes it happens that business relationships breakdown When the trust between the owners of a company is gone, some...
Read More
Commercial Law / Litigation & Dispute Resolution / Real Estate Agents

Pitfalls of exercising options

If the lease is subject to the Retail Leases Act 2003 (Victoria), then there are only two conditions that can be...
Read More
Litigation & Dispute Resolution

Strategy is vital

 Strategies come in all different forms and often a case will require short-term and long-term strategy  Strategies...
Read More
Commercial Law / Commercial Contracts & Agreements / Litigation & Dispute Resolution

Recording | TLFC Law Lunchtime Briefing | Commercial Matrimony – Marry/Battle/Kill

The slides are also available Please click here to view the PowerPoint Slides   Facilitated by Ron Cohen...
Read More
Litigation & Dispute Resolution

Your property has been restrained! What do you do when the government freezes your assets?

What if you own property that is suspected to have been used in connection with a crime What if an employee,  family...
Read More
Litigation & Dispute Resolution

Corporate life after death – Reinstating a company and how to do it

A company may be deregistered for various reasons It may be voluntary by the members (shareholders) of a company, it...
Read More
Litigation & Dispute Resolution

It’s the Contract!!! High Court states employment relationships are based on contract, not friendship.

Whilst the High Court reached two different outcomes in the matters of CFMEU & Anor v Personnel Contracting Pty Ltd...
Read More