Construction consultancy group James R Knowles has been forced to take out credit insurance after losing £250,000 from bad debts in the six months to 31 January.
Finance director Patrick Lineen said the biggest loss was £80,000, caused by the collapse of contractor Christiani & Nielsen last November.

He said: "As a result of these bad debts, which could not be predicted, we are looking to take out credit insurance to protect us from now on." Lineen said the rate of bad debts had increased over the last 12 to 18 months.

He said: "Things are getting tighter in the construction industry and that means more business for us, because there are more disputes – but we have to be careful that we get paid." Lineen made the comment as James R Knowles posted pre-tax profit of £14.5m for the six months to 31 January – up 15% on the same time last year.

Lineen said the group's adjudication business was growing as clients looked for alternatives to arbitration and litigation.

He said: "It's popular with clients because it's cheaper than arbitration or litigation and faster."