Introduction to this document

Notice that goods are ready

Are you holding on to goods that a customer has failed to collect? Or are you refusing to hand back the goods until you’ve been paid? If you’ve ever been in this position and wondered what to do next, these notices will enable you to take the appropriate steps to ensure that the goods are removed and
your bill is paid.

Exercising a lien

Just because your customer hasn’t settled your account, this doesn’t automatically give you an excuse to sell their goods in order to get paid. The goods still belong to your customer and selling them could result in you being sued for their loss.

If you find yourself in this position, you’re quite entitled to refuse to hand back the goods until you’re paid, where you’ve carried out work on them, e.g. repairs. This is called exercising a “lien”.

Exercising a lien isn’t allowed where your customer goes into administration.

First notice

To go onto the next step of selling your customer’s goods, you’ve got to serve the first notice to let them know where the goods are being held, how much is owed and that the goods are ready for collection.

It’s a good idea to try and personally serve the notice on the customer.

Second notice

If the customer fails to respond to your first notice, then under the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977, provided you serve our second notice, you can then legally go ahead and sell the goods. However, you must allow at least three months to elapse after service of the second notice before you do so.

In order not to waste time, it’s often a good idea to serve the two notices together. The second notice must always be sent by registered post or recorded delivery, otherwise it isn’t valid.