Martin Hughes

Consultant - Debt Recovery


Martin Hughes is a Consultant and former Director and Commercial Recoveries specialist. Martin’s expertise covers all areas of credit management including, Credit control policy, consumer & commercial litigation, International debt recovery, Insolvency, Legal process, Pre-legal collections, General credit management advice, Credit Risk, Integration of company sales ledgers and department structures.

Martin has been a member of the Institute of Credit Management since the 1980s and was Credit Manager for several large PLCs before joining Shoosmiths (Spratt Endicott’s precursor firm) in 1990.

In his time at the firm, Martin has continually expanded the Debt Recovery department, attracting many blue-chip clients and developing a team renowned as one of the finest in the region. Over the past 3 years, Spratt Endicott’s Debt Recovery department has achieved Top Tier status in the Legal 500 UK.

In 2017, Martin stepped down as Head of Department and handed leadership of the department to Richard Gwynne.

Martin is a recommended lawyer in The Legal 500 UK 2018-19, and his Debt Recovery team is ranked in the top tier in the South East region.

Martin’s clients often describe him as a professional who takes his time to understand a client’s business and requirements, and handles his cases in a highly approachable, knowledgeable manner while providing excellent advice on what action his client needs to take.

What clients have said...

  • Martin Hughes’s expertise in credit management has been invaluable to our organisation. Whether we needed staff training or a complex review of our terms and conditions, credit policy and procedures, Martin has always been willing to help. Martin is a total professional who takes the time to understand our business, requirements and customers and has a proven record of collecting difficult debts while treating our customers with respect.

    Debt Recovery Client

  • I have been doing business with Spratt Endicott and Martin Hughes for more than 10 years and they have always delivered an outstanding service. All of our contact is handled in a very professional manner and they are highly approachable, knowledgeable and provide excellent advice on what action we need to take. Martin is a total professional who takes the time to understand our business, requirements and customers and has a proven record of collecting difficult debts while treating our customers and patients with respect. I have never received a negative feedback and I look forward to many more years of using him as a partner in helping me collect our debts.

    Mr Gabriele Orsini, Head of Accounts Receivable & Treasury Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

  • EE have worked with Martin and his team for the last 10 years and have developed an excellent working relationship where our business needs and concerns are understood and the approach to litigation has been very successful. The team has depth and everyone is happy to discuss queries in general or individual cases with my team. I have always found Martin to be flexible and proactive in developing new ways to deal with potential legal accounts.

    Mike O’Reilly, Collections Risk Manager EE Limited

Case Studies

Cash Flow Turnaround

At the request of a bank we went to see a client of theirs who was giving them concern regarding their cash flow.

We went to clients and checked:

· The Sales ledger

·  Age of debt and values

·  Margins

·  Stock control

· The Purchase ledger

We found that the client had become over reliant on one customer.

Unfortunately, this customer was a very large national who dictated their payment terms (and then exceeded the agreed extended terms) and to whom the goods were sold at very small margins.  Due to the size of the customer, the client felt unable to take action against them.

As a result the client was unable to obtain goods, as they were on stop with their suppliers, which meant that they were not able to fulfil orders from their other customers who provided far greater margins.

It was absolutely clear to us that the business would fold within three months unless they took immediate steps to rectify the situation.

The one action needed was to stop supplying the offending large customer and to obtain settlement of their outstanding invoices.  The client decided to follow our advice.

We were advised by the bank some three-to-four months later that there had been a dramatic turnaround in the fitness of the company.  They were now concentrating on supplying the smaller companies on higher profit margins and as a result did not have the same cash flow worries and the profitability of the company had increased.

Recovery of Debt in Mexico

We received a telephone call from the Credit Manager of an international branded clothes business.

They had a debt of £120k with a major retailer in Mexico City.  Despite their best efforts, they had been unable to obtain settlement.

In Mexico the legal process can be long winded and expensive.  It is generally accepted that most proceedings for the recovery of debt will take approximately one year, without adding any appeal processes.

The matter was urgent as investigations revealed that the Mexican Government had also issued proceedings in the courts for unpaid taxes.  A different strategy was required.

We contacted local agents, previously used by us, and within three hours we had their representatives at the retailer walking round and to all intents and purposes doing a stock take.

The retailer was a sole distributor of our client’s products in Mexico, and as such had large signs both inside and outside the premises with our client’s logos and brand names.  We ensured the retailer was aware that they were now in breach of contract and not only would we remove all of our goods but we would also insist on the removal of all signage.

There followed a long procession of calls and emails between us, our agents and the retailer.  Within three weeks of instruction to us, our client had received payment in full.  This demonstrates how a pure legal process in a foreign country may not be the best option, and very often may be the lazy option.

We are unaware how long it took for the Mexican Government to get paid for their claims.

Audit of Internal Credit Control Procedures

Whilst acting for a client (a national manufacturer of boilers for the domestic market) we noticed that many of the debts being sent to us were either very easy for us to collect, or had simple disputes which really should have been resolved prior to passing them to us.

We discussed the situation with the Credit manager, and we agreed that he would visit his company and carry out an audit of their internal credit control procedures.

It was soon obvious what the problems were.

· There was no query resolution system in place allowing problems to be identified and followed up in a timely and effective manner

· Dunning letters, rather surprisingly, were not despatched to an agreed credit cycle and were to say the least ineffectual in their content

· There did not appear to be an agreed Credit Policy in place regarding returns and in many cases debit notes which had been initiated by their customers

We devised a manual system for him regarding query resolution, as he did not have a software application which would deal with this.

Dunning letters were rewritten with an agreed credit control cycle to escalate the debts.

A procedure was written to identify and deal with the returns and debit notes. This part filtered into the query resolution system.

Not surprisingly, the volume of work received from the client reduced to a trickle. We did, however, retain a loyal client who continued to pass work of a more tricky nature to us.

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