Debt collection in Greece
Does your company have to deal with a debt collection case in Greece because a Greek customer has not paid your invoice? Our Greek debt collection specialists and lawyers will be happy to help you. We ensure that your outstanding invoices are paid quickly. Read here what we can do for you if you want to engage with a debt collection agency and recover debt in Greece.
“The payment behavior of the Greek companies can be considered as one of the worst in Europe. The economic crisis has considerably contributed to that. A strict debtor’s policy is, therefore, important to get invoices paid".
International debt collection in Greece
When you do business with a Greek trading partner, you are confronted with business practices, trade traditions, customs as well as rules and regulations that are very different from the ones you are used to. Also, your client speaks a different language. This makes debt recovery in Greece often complicated and time-consuming for you. That is why you should call in our Greek specialists. They have the means to get your debtor to pay.
Payment behaviour of Greek companies
- Greeks are not very punctual and often very flexible with time. However, they expect you to be on time for business appointments.
- The statutory payment period of invoices and delivery of goods or services is 30 days.
- Greeks are among the worst payers in Europe.
- A payment term of 7 days is customary when sending a reminder.
Debt collection in Greece
In Greece, business is somewhat slower than in other parts of Europe. Bureaucracy is a common issue and some processes take a long time. The payment of invoices is also often delayed.
Greek companies are among the worst payers in Europe. Due to the financial crisis that struck in 2009 in Greece, a lot of companies are still facing difficulties in paying invoices on time. A payment term of more than 100 days is common in Greece. Often an advance payment is requested, in order to still be assured of paid invoices.
Advantages of collection in Greece
- Greek debt collection lawyers at your country
- Greek speaking lawyers
- Highest success rates
- Debt collection throughout Greece
- Always a single point of contact
- 24/7 access to our online portal
- No Cure No Pay debt collection
Greek lawyer in your country
The best way to collect your invoice in Greece is by seeking the help of one of our Greek lawyers or collection specialists. By doing that, you will not have to worry about anything or even travel to Greece: our debt collection specialists will take care of everything. They have extensive knowledge and experience with laws and regulations in Greece. It goes without saying that they collect in Greek, their native language. Therefore, they will be able to make your Greek debtor pay quickly.
Debt collection procedure in Greece
The debt collection process in Greece can be divided into two phases. In the extrajudicial phase we collect without the intervention of the court, while in the judicial phase we do involve the court to get your Greek customer to pay. Since we are a law firm, we can assist you in both phases.
Our starting point is to always start the collection procedure in the extrajudicial phase. In this phase we try to avoid the intervention of the court. We contact your Greek debtor to ensure that your debtor still pays. In the extrajudicial phase we have the following possibilities in Greece:
Written demand letters and phone calls
We send the debtor a written demand letter and contact them by telephone, requesting that they pay your claim within a few days, together with interest and costs.
In Greece, it is often effective to draw up a payment arrangement. For an effective arrangement, it is very important to show understanding to your Greek business partner.
Announcing legal proceedings
In case of non-payment, the announcement of legal proceedings will often convince your Greek customer. Most companies want to avoid legal proceedings, so usually this announcement convinces them to pay immediately. That is why it is advisable to promptly engage the service of a debt recovery lawyer, who can announce such proceedings on your behalf. This way, you prevent an unnecessarily protracted debt recovery process.
If your debtor refuses to pay during the pre-legal phase, we can, in consultation with you, start legal proceedings. For this, we do a credit check and analyse the financial situation of your debtor. This allows us to better assess how your debtor is doing financially and whether legal proceedings are worthwhile. When the the claim is disputed, we also must start legal proceedings in most cases. Of course, we will always let you know in advance what the possible costs are and will only get started after having received your permission.
Would you like to start judicial collection proceedings against your Greek debtor? Then the first question is in which country do you have to litigate: in your country or in Greece? The answer depends on the competent court, i.e. the court that is competent to rule on your debt collection case.
In your general terms and conditions, you can agree on the competent court in the event of a (payment) conflict. This is also called choice of forum. Have you not made any agreements or are the ones you have made not applicable? Then the main rule is that the court in the country of the defendant has jurisdiction. In this case, the Greek court. You must then go to Greece to follow legal proceedings there.
In addition, the main rule is that the law of the country of the seller or service provider applies. The law of your own country is therefore applicable in this case. We then get the weird situation where the Greek court must judge the case according the law of your country. A legal system they are not familiar with. This is not a desirable situation. Therefore, our advice is to make agreements about the applicable law and the competent court in your terms and conditions. For more information about your special situation, ask our lawyers for advice.
Debt collection laws in Greece
When taking legal action against a Greek customer, there are several Greek collection laws that we can rely on. The best collection procedure to use will differ depending on the situation. Of course, our lawyers will always look for the best option for you and your collection case.
Legal procedures in Greece are very effective as there is a variety of options you could choose depending on the type of your case. Nevertheless, you should bear in mind that Greece is very bureaucratic and that the legal system can sometimes be very slow. Our Greek lawyers can advise you on the best legal procedure for your situation.
National order for payment procedure (Diatagi Plimoris)
For undisputed cases, the national order for payment (Diatagi Pliromis) procedure, can be started. With this procedure, an enforceable title can be obtained quickly and efficiently. After the judge has given their decision, our lawyer will immediately deploy the necessary resources to carry out this decision. For example, by seizing your debtor's accounts.
Ordinary civil proceedings (Agogi)
In the case of a disputed claim, i.e. if your debtor has good reason not to pay, your lawyer can summon the debtor (Agogi). Both parties will have to defend their case before the court and submit all the necessary documents and proof. Depending on the details of your case, it must be determined whether or not litigation is desirable.
Provisional legal measures (Asfalistika Metra)
In more urgent cases, for example to prevent imminent danger or to establish a right, a petition can also be submitted for the application of provisional legal measures (Asfalistika Metra). A hearing takes place and provisional measures are granted with a judgement.
In this case of temporary legal protection, for example in the form of a precautionary seizure, ordinary legal proceedings will be initiated within one month to prevent the measure from being lifted.
By the filing of a petition for provisional measures, the court can also grant an enforceable Preliminary Injunction (Prosorini Diatagi) until it comes up to a decision for the abovementioned petition.
International collection laws
In addition to Greek collection laws, there are also a few European measures that can be used if your Greek customer refuses to pay. It is important for the European Union that trade between European countries is stimulated. Therefore, complicated procedures are unwanted. That is why, in addition to the normal procedures, there are two alternative procedures that can be used for foreign claims between two EU countries: the European Payment Order Procedure and the Small Claims Procedure.
Both procedures are relatively quick and inexpensive. In order to launch them, a standard form must be completed and sent to the competent court. If you and your trading partner have not previously agreed on the competent court in the event of a conflict, then it is usual for the judge in the defendant's country to have jurisdiction. Which is, in this case, the Greek court. The court then deals with the collection case and makes a judgment about it.
The Small Claims Procedure is only suitable for small claims up to € 5,000. The European Payment Order only applies to undisputed claims. Although it is a simple procedure, it is not often used for Greek debtors. The Greek Diatagi Pliromis procedure is similar to this procedure but a lot more effective and faster.
Litigation in your own country
Have you agreed in the general terms and conditions that the court in your country is competent? Then legal proceedings can be started in your country. Depending on your specific situation, our lawyers will look at what is most beneficial for your company. If we are going to litigate in your country against your Greek debtor, we can start ordinary civil proceedings. Both parties will be heard, after which the court will make a judgement.
If a judgement has been obtained in your country, this judgement has yet to be executed in Greece. It is provided by the EU’s law that all judgments obtained in the EU Member States are also recognised in other EU countries. For the execution of a judgment from your country in Greece, your court issues a certificate. This is then sent to the bailiff in Greece together with the judgment. The bailiff can then start to work immediately to ensure that the judgment is executed in Greece.
An outstanding invoice cannot be collected forever. An invoice can expire. Once the statute of limitations for your invoice has expired, you can no longer enforce payment of your invoice through the courts. It is therefore important to keep a close eye on this limitation period.
In Greece, a statutory limitation period of 5 years applies to corporate claims. This period commences when the claim is due and payable. This is the due date of the invoice. If the term of payment of an invoice is 30 days, the limitation period of 5 years starts after the 30 days have elapsed.
Imagine: you have delivered a batch of clothing to a customer. On April 1st 2017 you send the corresponding invoice, with a payment period of 30 days. However, your customer did not pay. The due date of the invoice is 1st May 2017. The limitation period of 5 years starts from this moment. On May 1st 2022, your invoice will therefore expire.
Exceptions to the limitation period
Some claims are subject to a different limitation period. For example, in European road transport there is a limitation period of one year. In the maritime sector, too, an invoice expires after one year.
Preventing the statute of limitations
You can prevent the limitation of your invoice by interrupting the limitation period. The interruption stops and resets the limitation period. In Greece, the limitation period can be interrupted by initiating legal proceedings. It does not matter if it is through the order of payment procedure or the ordinary one. However, just sending a payment reminder does not interrupt the limitation period itself.
In addition, what also stops the limitation period in Greece is a letter from the debtor confirming the existence of an outstanding invoice. This is an official acknowledgement of debt which must be undersigned by the debtor. For example, a payment arrangement or a contract that is drawn up in an official mediation procedure or in negotiations between lawyers is considered as serving as official confirmation of the debt.
Judicial debt collection in Greece
For years, Bierens has helped many companies around the world with their debt collection cases in Greece. Thanks to our expertise, we have not only assisted foreign businesses, but also Greek firms in their own country. We specialize in debt collection cases in various areas of law:
- Buying and selling
- Rental and leasing
- Agency agreement and distribution agreement
- Damages and unlawful acts
“Bierens is a highly effective and professional partner. Not only do they have a strong debt collection procedure, they also give solid advice.”
Manuel Maas, Eneco
Is your debtor located in Athens, Thessaloniki or Patras? For our specialists, it doesn't really matter where your customer is. We can assist you throughout Greece. For the successful collection of your case you do not need to call in a collection agency or lawyer in Greece. You can simply transfer your case to us online. Our Greek specialists will get to work immediately.
More than a debt collection agency
If you are looking for a debt collection agency, you are actually better off with a debt collection lawyer. Our Greek collection lawyers have more resources than a collection agency. Moreover, they work faster and are also more successful. And that is beneficial for your business: you will quickly have your money in your bank account.
No Win No Fee Debt collection
During the extrajudicial phase, we work based on the No Win, No Fee basis. If we do not collect, then you pay no legal fee. You only pay €150 for administrative costs. After all, an unpaid invoice causes enough frustration. We think it would be unfair if you were to be faced with all sorts of additional fees.
You only pay a fee if we can collect the claim. We try to recover this fee from the debtor as much as possible. Therefore, a successful collection case will cost you almost nothing! We call that justice, for you are getting exactly what you are entitled to.
If the collection is successful, we try to recover the collection costs as much as possible from the debtor. In that case, your Greek customer will pay the outstanding invoice and the collection costs. This way you will have to pay as little collection costs as possible to our company. In your country, in most cases we can recover all interest and costs (which is the fee for our work) from your debtor. This is not always the case abroad. In such cases, you pay a percentage of the principal sum.
In your general terms and conditions, we advise you to include a minimum of 15% costs with a minimum of €250 and 1% interest per month. It is also important that you use your general terms and conditions correctly. Of course, we can always check in advance whether this provision has been included correctly in your general terms and conditions.
Keep in mind that when you go to the Greek court with your debt collection case, it is not customary for these costs to be awarded.
Do you have an outstanding invoice with a Greek customer? Or do you have another conflict with your client? Our collection specialists and lawyers will be happy to help you solve your payment conflict. Please, feel free to contact us for more information. Are you tired of waiting for your money? Then send us your invoice right away. Our specialists will immediately start working on your case.