Debt collection in Italy
Does your company have to deal with debt collection in Italy because an Italian customer has not paid your invoice? Our Italian 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 when you want to engage with a collection agency and recover debt from Italy.
"Italians are one of the worst payers in Europe. In Italy it is common that an invoice is not paid until after the payment deadline has passed".
International debt collection in Italy
When doing business with an Italian trading partner, you are confronted with different trading traditions and customs than those you are used to. Moreover, different legislation applies in Italy. This often makes debt collection in Italy complicated and time-consuming for you. That is why you should call in our Italian specialists. They have the means to get your debtor to pay.
Payment behaviour of Italian companies
- Statutory term of payment of invoices is 30 days
- A payment period longer than 100 days occurs on a regular basis
- In the case of reminders, a payment term of 7 days is customary
Debt collection in Italy
As in many southern European countries, Italian companies are one of the worst payers in Europe. According to some surveys, Italians are even among the top worst payers in the world, because the payment morale of Italian companies is less strict. The maximum payment period of 30 or 60 days is regularly exceeded. It is common in Italy to receive your money after 80 days. However, a payment term of 100 days is also a regular occurrence in Italy, so make sure you have a strict debtor's policy.
Advantages of debt collection in Italy
- Italian collection lawyers in your country
- Italian-speaking lawyers
- Highest success rates
- Collection throughout Italy
- Always a single point of contact
- 24/7 online access to our portal
- No Cure No Pay debt collection
Italian lawyer in your country
It is best to contact an Italian lawyer or collection specialist to collect your Italian invoice. You don't have to go to Italy, you can simply contact one of our lawyers or specialists at Bierens. They have extensive knowledge and experience with the laws and regulations in Italy. It goes without saying that they collect in Italian. This enables us to get your Italian debtor to pay quickly.
Debt collection procedure in Italy
The collection process in Italy can be divided into two phases. In the extrajudicial phase we collect without the intervention of the court, in the judicial phase we do involve the court to have your Italian customer pay. Because we are a law firm, we can assist you in both phases.
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.
Making payment arrangements
In many cases it is advisable to make a payment arrangement. When a payment arrangement has been signed by your client, it means that your client agrees to the debt. If your debtor does not comply with this payment arrangement either, he has already acknowledged the debt. This may come in handy at a later stage. When making a payment arrangement, however, it is important to involve an Italian lawyer who speaks fluent Italian and is familiar with Italian negotiation techniques.
Announcing legal proceedings
In case of non-payment, the announcement of legal proceedings will often convince your Italian client. Your Italian client does not want to run the risk of legal proceedings being initiated against him. If your debtor refuses to pay during the extrajudicial phase, we can, in consultation with you go to court. We will always provide you with information in advance regarding the potential costs, and we only proceed with your permission. In Italy, there are a number of legal proceedings you could commence to collect your claim. The most important procedures are explained below:
Order for payment (“Ingiunzione di pagamento”)
The Italian order for payment proceedings take place between the creditor and the court, without the debtor’s involvement. These proceedings allow you, the creditor, to request that the court delivers a judgment which is provisionally enforceable. The debtor has 40 days to respond to the order. If the debtor opts to put forward a defence, then automatically, ordinary civil proceedings are commenced.
Ordinary civil proceedings (“Processo ordinario di cognizione”)
Has your debtor filed a defense against the order for payment, or has your claim been disputed? Then ordinary civil proceedings can be commenced. To do so, the claim must be justified and substantiated. Several hearings will follow, as stipulated by the court. It is possible that witnesses must be provided in order to substantiate your claim. These proceedings can sometimes take several years.
Would you like to start legal collection proceedings against your Italian debtor? Then the first question is in which country do you have to litigate: in your country or in Italy? This 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 no agreements been made? Then the main rule is that the court in the country of the defendant has jurisdiction. In this case the Italian court. You then have to go to Italy to follow legal proceedings there.
In addition, the main rule is that the law of the country of the seller or service provider applies. In this case, the law of your own country is applicable. We then get this difficult situation where the Italian court must judge the case based on the law of your country. A legal system he is unfamiliar 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. Therefore, you can also agree that you can litigate in your own country, should a conflict arise. For more information about your specific situation, ask our lawyers for advice.
Debt collection laws in Italy
When we take legal action against your Italian client, there are a number of Italian collection laws that we can deploy. The collection procedure that can best be used differs per situation. Our lawyers always look for the best option for your collection case. In Italy you cannot appear in court without the assistance of a lawyer. Although some proceedings in Italy are now handled entirely digitally, legal proceedings can sometimes still take a very long time. Our lawyers can advise you on which procedure is most suitable and assist you during these proceedings.
Payment order (Ingiunzione di pagamento)
The Italian order for payment is a procedure conducted between the creditor and the court without the intervention of the debtor. With this procedure you, as a creditor, have the possibility to ask the court to execute the judgment directly. The debtor has 40 days after this judgment to respond to the order. If the debtor chooses to put forward a defense, proceedings on the merits will automatically be started.
Ground procedure (Processo ordinario di cognizione)
Is your debtor defending the judgment or is there a disputed claim (a claim which your debtor considers to be unjustified)? Then proceedings on the merits can be started, the 'processo ordinario di cognizione'. In this case, the claim must be substantiated and supported by evidence. One or more hearings will follow, which will be determined by the court. It is possible that witnesses will have to be brought in order to substantiate the claim. The court may also appoint an expert. This procedure can sometimes take more than a year.
International collection laws
In addition to the Italian collection laws, there are also a number of European measures that can be used when your Italian customer refuses to pay. For the European Union it is important to stimulate trade between European countries. Therefore, complicated procedures abroad are unwanted. That is why, in addition to the ordinary procedures, there are also two alternative procedures that can be used for foreign claims: the European Payment Order Procedure and the Small Claims Procedure.
Both procedures are relatively fast and cheap. A standard form must be filled in, which is then sent to the competent court. If you have not agreed on anything, this is usually the Italian court. The court then deals with the collection case and makes a judgement.
The small claims procedure is only suitable for small claims up to €5,000. The European Payment Order only applies to undisputed claims.
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 Italian 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 Italy. Within the EU, it is established that all verdicts obtained in the EU member states are also recognised in other EU countries. For the execution of a judgment in Italy, your court court issues a certificate. This is then sent to the bailiff in Italy together with the judgment. The bailiff can then set to work immediately to ensure that the judgment is executed in Italy.
In Italy, business receivables from the sale of goods are subject to a statutory limitation period of 10 years. This period commences when the claim is due and payable. This is the due date of the invoice. When the payment term of an invoice is 30 days, the limitation period of 10 years starts to run after those 30 days have elapsed.
Suppose you deliver a batch of clothing to a customer. On 1 April 2017, you send the corresponding invoice, with a payment term of 30 days. However, your customer does not pay. The due date of the invoice is 1 May 2017. From this moment on, the limitation period of 10 years starts to run. On 1 May 2027, your invoice is therefore time-barred.
Preventing the statute of limitations
You can avoid prescription of your invoice by interrupting the prescription period. By interrupting the statute of limitations, the limitation period is stopped and starts to run again. In Italy there are 3 ways to interrupt the statute of limitations:
- Acknowledgement by the debtor: The debtor then confirms that there is an obligation to pay. For example, if the debtor has already paid one instalment or makes a payment proposal.
- Sending a letter of formal notice: This informs that you expect payment of your claim. It is important that the letter of formal notice meets certain requirements. If this is not the case, you run the risk that there will be no interruption and the invoice will therefore simply become time-barred. In addition, make sure that you send this letter via PEC (posta elettronica certificata) or registered mail. This provides legal certainty on the identity of the sender, the date and time of sending and the content of the email. It is therefore most rewarding to send the bounce letter at the end of the term. But of course, make sure that you do this on time, before the statute of limitations has expired. Otherwise you risk your invoice becoming time-barred and you will no longer be able to pay.
- Initiation of legal proceedings, e.g. by filing a writ of summons.
Exceptions to the limitation period
Not all business receivables are subject to a limitation period of 10 years. In European transport law, for example, a limitation period of 1 year applies. In addition, Italy has even shorter limitation periods. A lawyer's or notary's fee has a limitation period of 3 years, and insurance companies and mediators only have a limitation period of 1 year. Therefore, make sure that you are always aware of the statute of limitations that apply in your situation.
Legal areas for debt collection in Italy
Our Italian debt collection agency has been active for several years. During this time, we have helped many companies all over the world with their debt collection business in Italy as well as several Italian companies, with all kinds of debt collection cases in various jurisdictions:
- Buying and Selling
- Construction law
- Rental and leasing
- Agency and distribution agreement
- Damages and unlawful acts
“Bierens is a highly effective and professional partner. Not only do they have a good debt collection procedure, they also give solid advice.”
Manuel Maas, Eneco
Is your debtor in Milan, Rome or Naples? For our specialists, it doesn't matter where your customer is located. We can assist you throughout Italy. For the successful collection of your case, you do not need to call in a collection agency or lawyer in Italy. You can simply transfer your case online. Our Italian specialists will then get straight to work. With an Italian department at the head office and our own office in Rome, we can decisively collect your claims in Italy.
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 Italian collection lawyers have more resources than a collection agency. Moreover, they work faster and are also more successful. This is beneficial for your organisation, as you will quickly receive your payment.
No Win No Fee debt collection
During the extrajudicial phase, we work based on the No Win, No Fee principle. 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! That is what we call justice, as you will receive what you are entitled to.
If the collection is successful, we try to recover the collection costs from the debtor as much as possible. In that case, your Italian customer will pay the outstanding invoice and the collection costs. This way, you will pay little to no collection fees to our organisation.
Do you have an outstanding invoice with an Italian 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. Do you no longer want to wait for your payment? Then hand over your invoice immediately. Our specialists will then get straight to work for you.