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Efficient Recovery of Unpaid Dues for MSMEs


Legal Strategies and Proactive Measures


In today's dynamic business landscape, Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) play a crucial role in driving economic growth. However, ensuring timely payments from clients remains a significant challenge for these enterprises. Unpaid dues can disrupt cash flow, hinder growth potential, and threaten the very viability of an MSME.

This blog/ guide, by Dugain Legal, Attorneys and Lawyers, delves into the legal avenues available for MSMEs to recover outstanding payments efficiently, while also outlining proactive measures to mitigate the risk of late payments in the first place.


Legal Strategies for Recovery of Unpaid Dues

Legal Strategy

Key Features and Benefits

Limitations/ Disadvantages

Summary Suit under Order XXXVII of CPC

- Fast-track mechanism for resolving commercial disputes based on written contracts or promissory notes.

- Expedited process bypasses lengthy court procedures.

- Burden of defense: Defendant must apply for leave to defend within ten days.

- If leave to defend is not granted, plaintiff is entitled to swift judgment.

 

- Limited to cases based on specific documents and may not be suitable for complex disputes.

- Defendant must apply for leave to defend within ten days, which could delay resolution if leave to defend is granted.

MSME Samadhaan Portal

- Online platform for filing complaints against buyers who default on payments.

- Facilitates quicker resolution of disputes involving delayed payments.

- Supplier MSMEs can file electronically using Udyog Aadhar Memorandum (UAM).

- Relies on government action

- May still require follow-up actions or legal proceedings if the dispute is not resolved through the portal

Negotiable Instruments Act (NI Act)

- Section 138 allows legal action against dishonoured cheques.

- Issuer of bounced cheque can be penalized and ordered to pay outstanding amount with additional charges.

- Limited to cases involving dishonoured cheques and may not apply to other forms of payment default.

- Requires proper documentation and compliance with procedural requirements under the NI Act.

 

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Mechanisms

- Offers collaborative methods like arbitration and mediation for dispute resolution.

- Neutral third party facilitates a mutually agreeable settlement.

- Faster and more cost- effective than traditional litigation.

- Outcome depends on the willingness of both parties to engage in ADR and reach a mutual agreement.

- Results may not be legally binding without formal court enforcement.

Civil Court Proceedings

- Formal legal avenue for debt recovery when other methods have been exhausted.

- Provides definitive legal resolution but can be time-consuming and resource-intensive.

- Can be time-consuming, costly, and subject to court backlog, delaying resolution of disputes.

- Requires compliance with procedural rules and may involve complex legal proceedings.

Inter-conflict between the Legal Strategies


Recovering unpaid dues can be a tricky situation for MSMEs. Here's how different legal strategies can interact:


1.   Summary Suits vs. ADR: 

Summary suits are fast for contract disputes, but MSMEs might have already agreed to use Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) like arbitration or mediation in the contract itself. Check your contracts carefully! If a valid ADR clause exists, pursuing a summary suit directly in court might cause problems.


2.   MSME Samadhaan vs. NI Act: 

The MSME Samadhaan portal is for delayed payments, but for bounced cheques, the NI Act offers a specific legal remedy. If you have both a bad cheque and delayed payments, you might need to prioritize one avenue over the other. The NI Act is often quicker for bad cheques, while MSME Samadhaan tackles broader payment issues.


3.   Civil Court vs. Summary Suit: 

MSMEs can choose civil court or a summary suit for debt recovery. Summary suits are faster, but there's a catch. If a summary suit reveals complex legal matters, the court might transfer it to regular civil court proceedings. Be prepared to adapt your strategies if the legal process changes.


4.   NI Act vs. Summary Suit: 

The NI Act is for bounced cheques, while summary suits cover broader disputes. The conflict arises when the issue goes beyond a simple bounced cheque. If the dispute extends to additional claims, you might need to switch from the NI Act and pursue a summary suit to address the broader issues.


Proactive Measures to Mitigate Late Payments


1.  Iron-Clad Contracts: 

A well-drafted contract forms the foundation for a healthy business relationship. It's crucial for MSMEs to ensure clear and concise payment terms are documented within the contract. This includes specifying due dates, late payment fees, and interest accrual rates for overdue payments.

 

2.    Creditworthiness Assessment: 

Before entering into a business agreement, conducting a thorough credit check of the potential client can provide valuable insights into their payment history and financial health. This proactive step can help MSMEs identify and mitigate potential risks associated with late payments.

 

3.    Clear Communication: 

Maintaining transparent and consistent communication with clients regarding payment expectations is paramount. Invoices should be clear and detailed, outlining the services rendered, the amount due, and the payment deadline. Additionally, following up on late payments promptly demonstrates professionalism and reinforces the importance of timely payment.


Consulting a lawyer familiar with these interactions is highly recommended for MSMEs. Legal professionals can guide MSMEs in developing a comprehensive approach tailored to their specific situation and goals. By understanding potential conflicts and available legal options, implementing proactive measures and seeking professional guidance, MSMEs can navigate the legal landscape more confidently and ensure a smoother resolution when faced with unpaid dues.


Dugain Legal, Attorneys and Lawyers, is a dedicated legal partner for MSMEs, offering comprehensive support throughout the recovery process. Our team possesses extensive experience in crafting tailored legal strategies and guiding MSMEs towards efficient resolution of payment disputes. We prioritise clear communication, cost-effective solutions, and a proactive approach to ensure your business receives the timely payments it deserves.

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