Money Talk: ‘Can I cut off a friend who doesn’t return the cash I lent them?’

Money talk

Having a friend who owes you money is a minefield, as a trust-based loan can leave you with several options but have to wait for it to run out if the cash isn’t being repaid as quickly as you’d like.

Photo of a Hispanic woman comforting her angry friend
One in three of us has been heartbroken with a loved one for more than £100 or less

Falling out with friends and family for money is more common than you think.

In fact, one in three of us has ever been broken up with a loved one. on a total of £100 or less.

The old saying ‘never do business with friends or family’ is popular for a reason – if a dispute arises, it becomes a personal as well as a financial one.

Lending cash to friends can be a recipe for disaster because it relies on trust.

Most of the time that trust is sufficient, but it can easily go wrong because there is no written agreement or proof that the money is repaid.

One Mirror readers emailed to ask: “Last July, I lent my friend £500 to help him get through the month, because he said he had no job and bills to pay. I feel bad for him.

“We’ve agreed that he’ll reimburse me for that whenever, drip and bland, but I still haven’t had any repayments.

“Every time I recounted, he promised me he would pay when he could or change the subject. We were disappointed by it, I am not rich and desperately need the money. I want to know there is money. there’s no way I can get him to value these repayments more.”

The short answer is that you will have a hard time getting him to pay off the debt unless you have proof that you lent him money.

Formal options open to you include financial reconciliation, filing a ‘statutory claim’, going to court or filing for bankruptcy.

Using any one of these options is likely to end the friendship. You’ll almost certainly be better off continuing what you’re doing and waiting for your friend to pay.

It is possible that he has every intention of paying and is not trying to let you run away.

He may still be in financial trouble and find the problem difficult to deal with, and so he’s changing the subject because he doesn’t know what else to do.

But knowing the situation and being able to take further action is the only option.

This is a run through the options available.


This is a process in which a neutral third party tries to find a solution to your problem, in this case an outstanding debt.

Mediation costs money, often varies depending on the size of the debt, and both parties need to agree.

However, it is cheaper and less stressful than some other options, such as going to court.

You can find a mediator using this list.

Statutory need

This is like a formal request that someone pay you what they owe.

The government advice is that you can only make a statutory claim if the debt is less than six years old.

Once someone is presented with a statutory claim, they must pay or make a payment arrangement within 21 days.

You can make a statutory claim this.

The problem is that if he ignores the statutory requirement, there’s not much you can do.

You cannot apply to make anyone bankrupt unless they owe you at least £5,000.


Another option is to go to small claims court to try to get the money back.

You can initiate an online request thisbut for £500, there will be a £50 fee just to file a claim.

Your friend must then respond to the request.

If they ignore you, or don’t pay, then you will have to ask the court to order them to pay.

Fees can then add up throughout the process, especially if your friend doesn’t agree to pay and have a hearing.

You can get financial help with fees if you are on a low income, but otherwise the fees will quickly eat away at the £500 owed.

One hitch is that you’ll need some kind of proof – which you probably don’t have.

Verbal agreement can count, but you’ll likely need more than that.

Debt advice website DebtCamel says: “To win your case, you need some proof that your friend owes you.

“You can have a valid legal contract if it’s just a verbal agreement between two people. But you need to show something. If you give your friend £200 in cash and no one else see you do this, you’ll have problems with this part.”

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Fry Electronics Team

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