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Debt Collecting

Collecting money owed to you

Is there anything more annoying than providing goods or a service and then not being paid? If so, it must be having a court order for the payment of child support or a judgement in respect of compensation from a traffic accident and being unable to collect the money due to you.

The steps available to you will depend upon the nature of the money that you are owed. If, for example, you have the benefit of a judgement from a court you will be able to take steps through the court's own enforcement processes rather than dealing with the money due as a normal debt.

If the debt is a business debt or a personal debt due to you from somebody who lives overseas and, despite your best endeavours, you have not been paid there are various steps to take in order to collect what is due to you.

Step One. Decide whether it is financially worthwhile to take any action. The international recovery of debts is, inevitably, more expensive that recovery in your own town or country. Documents need to be translated and certified, Powers of Attorney need to be prepared and you will need to deal with a court in a foreign language. In some cases the size of the debt simply does not warrant this amount of expenditure and you are better to right it off at an early stage - perhaps after sending just one legal demand for payment - rather than waste money persuing half hearted recovery proceedings. Our member will be able to give you an estimate of the cost of collecting your debt and of the likely timescale involved so that you can make this decision.

Step Two. Make a formal legal demand for payment. This has to be done in the local way and in accordance with the law of the country in question. It is not the same as you simply writing to the debtor demanding payment. There maybe several options as to how to do this, each of which will have its own advantages and disadvantages. Our member will be happy to discuss with you which will be best in your circumstances.

Step Three. If the formal demand does not produce payment, unless your contract contains a clause requiring mediation/arbitration/alternative dispute resolution (ADR - see our Legal Guide to Alternative Dispute Resolution, to the right of this page) your next step will be to go to court. If you are going to do this, the key to doing so quickly and cheaply lies in good preparation. Making sure that all of the right documents are supplied and that, where necessary, they have all been duly translated and certified. In almost every country, going to court - even to recover a small debt - is quite complicated. It is even more complicated if you do not understand the local court system, the law or the local language. Fortunately, our member understands all three and will be delighted to help you deal with the court case should if prove necessary to do so.

Debt collecting requires a detailed knowledge of law and local customs as well as the same level of knowledge about the law in your own county. We cannot stress enough that it is the interaction - and sometimes conflict - between the two systems that creates most of the potential problems and many of the best potential opportunities for saving you time, trouble and money.

Next steps

Please look at the Legal Guides, videos, MP3 seminars and other materials set out to the right of this page.

If you would like us to help you, please complete our Client Pack and send it back to us. We will then contact you to clarify your requirements and then introduce you to the person most appropriate to deal with your case.

If you do not find the information that you need, please send us an email explaining your problem and we will contact you.

© The International Law Partnership Ltd. Page last revised 18/07/09

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