An unpaid invoice is a nightmare we would all prefer to avoid, but you're not necessarily just at the whim of your customers when it comes to whether or not you get paid on time.

It's also important to make sure you are invoicing properly - from the moment you take on a new customer, to how you deal with late payments - so you don't lose a single penny through your own fault and poor admin procedures.

EU legislators have been working for two years on a 'right to be forgotten' - specifically, the right to request that information about your past should be removed from the Internet, or made inaccessible when people search for your name on a search engine.

But this week, the Court of Justice of the European Union seemed to find a 'right to be forgotten' already in European law, in a preliminary ruling relating to a case brought by a Spanish man against Google and its Spanish subsidiary.

We often warn that late payment can be more than just an inconvenience for many small firms, as the interruption to cash flow can put them at risk of failing to pay their own debts, bills and invoices - potentially leading to insolvency.

Now newly published figures from R3, the Association of Business Recovery Professionals, show the extent to which this is the case, with late payment cited as a major or primary factor in the failure of one in five companies in the past year.

Late payments to SMEs must not be an acceptable way for big businesses to boost their own profits, according to business secretary Vince Cable, who is taking action to improve the transparency of corporate payment practices.

In a recent government consultation, the majority of respondents voted in favour of disclosure as a means of tackling late payments - and the government is now planning to require publication of payment practices by large companies.

The Prompt Payment Code will also be strengthened, with signatories held more accountable for their actions - although it is worth remembering that this is currently still a voluntary initiative.

Whether you're in business on your own, or part of a company, it's essential to protect your income - and one of the greatest areas of risk is when you extend a line of credit to a customer.

Remember, any time you carry out work, or provide goods or services, without taking payment upfront, you effectively become a creditor.

That means you need to think carefully about several different factors, for instance:

If you're a Guardian reader, you may have seen Safe Collections' collections and partnerships manager Adam Home quoted in a Guardian Professional article on May 12th.

Tim Aldred's piece looked at the case for credit control teams as a way for businesses to safeguard their cash flow and, ultimately, to stay in business by avoiding late payment.

Adam was happy to share his ideas with Tim for the piece that you can find here: "Does your business need a credit control team?" ((c) Guardian News & Media Ltd) and we're going to expand on some of those points below.

Today, Safe Collections marks it's 30th birthday and it is our pleasure to turn the blog over to our Managing Director and founder Sid Home for a few words on the company and how the landscape has changed.

Most people have heard of credit checks - even if what you immediately think of is the background check the bank runs when you apply for a credit card, loan or mortgage.

In principle, securing a credit report from Experian on a new customer is the same process, even if you are not lending them money; any goods or services provided upfront, to be paid for later, still represent a line of credit, and a risk to you if the customer fails to pay.

But how do you know who will pay in full and on time, and who is a higher credit risk?

    A LONG TIME AGO, IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY    

THE REBEL ALLIANCE SECURED A FAMOUS VICTORY    

BLASTING THE DEATH STAR OUT OF THE SKY    

WITH MOMENTS TO SPARE              

BUT THEIR ACTIONS CAME AT A PRICE...              

EMPIRE CONTRACTS CONTAIN A NON-PAYMENT CLAUSE    

ALLOWING PAYMENT TO BE WITHHELD    

IN THE EVENT OF REBEL ACTION

    IT IS NO SURPRISE THAT    

DARTH VADER'S FORMER HOME    

CAME TO BE KNOWN AS THE DEBT STAR   

A publicly accessible database of company directorships could soon become a reality, following the conclusion of a consultation by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The proposals outline plans for a central registry of company beneficial ownership information - including details of trustees, where relevant, and of individuals with ownership of more than 25% of the shares in a company, or the equivalent proportion of its voting rights.

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