If you are reading this, I assume you are already waiting for payment from someone, so I’ll start out by assuring you that I feel your pain. It’s a horrible situation to be stuck in and it makes you feel helpless but fear not! The Wardrobe Chronicles is here to help. I started this article with the hope that I could explain all the things to you that you didn’t know about invoices – But unsurprisingly it’s all already on the internet and written a lot better than I could have done it. So, I will explain the basics in clear language and link you to the relevant bits before leaving you alone.

According to the Late Payment Legislation Act, which has been in place since 16th March 2013 an invoice is late either 30 days after you sent the invoice or it is late after pre agreed terms (for example on my invoice it clearly states: payment due after 21 days of receiving this invoice). After this you are legally allowed to claim interest and compensation. This means that you can claim interest at 8% over Bank of England Base Rate per day. In addition to this there is a 3-tiered level of compensation at £40.00 under £1000.00, £70.00 under 10,000 and £100.00 over £10,000. I took this table this website which shows this a bit more clearly.  


Up to £999.99                  £40 per invoice​

£1000 – £9999.99            £70 per invoice

   £10000 +                     £100 per invoice

If you go to this page and scroll down to page 16/17 you will find clear explanations and examples of how to work out your interest and compensation.

Once you understand how this works you can use this useful calculator to work out how much debt and compensation is owed by going to this website

In the event they have given you a sob story about why they can’t pay and you are feeling guilty about charging them extra, then here is a list of common excuses that might make you feel more justified in adding the interest onto your late invoice – see this website

Here is the government site explaining the interest in case you worry any of this information is false – this link

Once you have done this you will need to inform the company who haven’t paid you of the new amount they owe you. There are lots of different template letters here including reminder letters and information to send to a solicitor – info here

The specific one to use for informing a company of a late payment invoice is here

Hopefully this will be enough to push them into paying you, but if they still don’t pay there are further options. The easiest of these is to consult your union; they have legal teams in place to help chase up things like this so use them – it is what you pay your membership for. Just phone or email them and explain the problem and they should direct you to the correct support.

If you aren’t part of a union then your next option is a mediation service. This is a free service where you will be assigned a mediator who will talk to both sides and try to come to an agreement. These people are skilled negotiators and should be able to help come to an agreement between both sides. Normally mediation talks take place over the phone and last about an hour, so they are fairly easy to schedule around work and other commitments. You should go into these talks with a clear idea of what you are looking to get out of it, but you may have to be willing to compromise to get a quick result. Make sure you prepare yourself for this early and decide whether you would be willing to take a lower sum or to be paid over an amount of time. There is more information on this service here:

If this doesn’t work then your final option is small claims court. This does cost money but not as much as you might think. Here is the information taken from the .gov site on court fees (accurate to November 2019) (link here)

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Once you have made your claim it may scare the company into just paying you, if not then you will need to go to a hearing. You can represent yourself at this hearing at no extra expense or you can pay for a solicitor to represent you. The decision will be made on the day of the hearing and if you win the court will collect the money even if the other party ignores the court summons.  Full information on this can be found here:

The only other piece of advice I have is to not work for these people again and to warn others to avoid them as well. Not paying for work isn’t ok but as long as people get away with it they will continue to try it whenever they hire a freelancer. It is difficult to fight for your money when you have already given over the product but I hope this article proves that it is not impossible. Showing people that we expect to be paid on time and that we know our rights helps our entire industry and hopefully lowers the chances of people trying this in the future so be strong and fight for what you deserve.

Harriet Dyson

Harriet is a professional costume, prop and puppet maker based in the UK, she also works on set and backstage. She has been in the industry for 8 years and has worked on everything from regional theatre to Disney’s Aladdin and Netflix’s The Dark Crystal. She is currently moving into a new workshop to expand her costume and prop making business, this mostly consists of wondering why she owns so many sewing machines and shouting at the 3D printer.

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