Using mediation to recover a payment from a contractor
Regardless of which industry you work in, unpaid invoices can always occur for a business owner, also in the construction world. But sometimes, it's not about a debtor who refuses to pay. Sometimes it can also be a simple misunderstanding that can lead to serious consequences.
Our client is a provider of building scaffolding, which they rent to construction companies. When their Belgian customer, who works in property renovation refused to pay their invoices, our client hired our lawyers at the French Desk. The counterparty remained absolutely silent, despite completing the payment for the first month of renting the scaffolding. The debtor never raised a dispute or terminated the contract. After almost 8 months of trying to recover the rest of the payments, our clients wrote an official letter to inform the debtor that the contract would be terminated. Our client would collect the scaffolding from the given address, but the debtor never replied.
Once our client hired us, the contract first had to be legally terminated according to French law. Because the counterparty did not respond, we initiated a judicial procedure with an ordinary civil procedure in the French court. Only then did the counterparty involve a lawyer to intervene and agreed to accept a mediation proposal offered by the judge.
The mediation procedure was much more challenging than anticipated. In our first meeting that took place face to face, the counterparty was delayed and even left without making any progress. The rest of the negotiations took place through e-mail. Even though the invoices were almost 5 years old, the counterparty contested saying that they had suffered damages and that the scaffolding was not installed properly. As this took place between a Dutch and French-speaking client, it was important to have a French-speaking lawyer to communicate with the French mediator.
Finally, the counterparty agreed to pay almost 75% of the claim of our client. Unfortunately, we could not collect interests and costs because these were not negotiated in the contract. The mediation was a success because it allowed our client to avoid having to prolong the case at a high cost. After recovering a large sum of the claim of almost 5 years, our client was extremely satisfied.
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Sometimes recovering a debt may not be as straightforward. Complex legal action may be required, which only becomes more difficult if your debtor is located abroad. With our in-house lawyers, there is always a specialist who speaks the same language as your debtor. This case study is one of the thousands of cases that we can solve on your behalf. If you would like to know more about what we can do for you, contact us today for your free consultation.