International judicial debt collection law procedure

Is your international customer not paying your invoice? Then you can take legal action against your client. The legal options for getting your debtor to pay, however, differ per country. Every European country has its own laws and rules. There are no universal laws or overriding international debt collection laws governing the collection of claims. Many European countries do, however, have more or less the same legal options for having your outstanding invoice collected, although the details of these procedures vary from country to country. Below we show the procedures that occur in almost every European country, although most countries also have other judicial collection procedures.

Start summons proceedings

In almost every European country you can start summons proceedings against your client. This often happens when there is a dispute. Both parties must then substantiate and defend their views in court during a court hearing; the case is then decided upon by a judge. The precise procedure is different in every country. In addition, some countries also have other procedures, which may be a better option in your situation. A lawyer from that country can tell you more about this.

Payment order procedure

In some European countries such as Greece, Italy and France, there is the option to initiate a payment order procedure when your customer is not paying. This is only possible if there is no dispute. The order for payment procedure is a relatively cheap and fast procedure in most countries. A lawyer then makes a request to the court to have the debtor pay. However, if the debtor raises an objection, a substantive proceeding must be started.


Because it often takes a while for a court ruling, there is a possibility in many countries to seize the debtor's property and assets. The debtor cannot then use their assets until the court announces a judgment. Our lawyers are happy to explain whether it is possible in your situation to seize the assets of your debtor.

European order for payment procedure

In addition to the fact that each country has its own legal procedures for collection cases, there is one legal procedure that is the same everywhere, namely the European order for payment procedure. This procedure can be used if both your company and your client are based in an EU member state and the international claim is undisputed. To submit a claim to court under this procedure, you must fill in the standard form. The court then issues a European payment order upon which your debtor has 30 days to respond. If you don’t receive a response from your debtor within this time-frame, then you can request the court to finalise the payment order. You then have a valid and enforceable judgment that is accepted in every EU member state.

If a claim in disputed however, the European order for payment procedure halts and the dispute must be resolved in local court.

More information about international debt collection laws?

Would you like more information about the international judicial debt collection laws and procedures within Europe? Then contact us today. Our international lawyers are happy to discuss your situation and explain what your options are.