Debt collection in Europe is different than the United States. Both the success rates and the average collected amounts are higher in Europe. Furthermore, it is common in Europe for attorneys to collect your debt prior to going to court. Bierens has a team of international in-house attorneys from over 20 different countries, who are specialized in collecting small or large past due accounts receivable in Europe. Under one roof, Bierens can provide fast and successful results anywhere in Europe.
Suggestions when your Greek customer is not paying:
- Call your Greek customer and ask why payment has not been effected yet;
- Sending letters repeatedly may endanger your trade relationship;
- Send one fully substantiated reminder with a clear summary of all invoices;
- In your remainder, state a payment period of 7 – 15 days;
- Oral agreements are common in Greece;
- Conditions need to be communicated clearly and are preferably in writing and signed.
Our Greek Lawyers Are Familiar with Local Legislation
Our Greek debt recovery lawyers have extensive experience and knowledge of Greek legislation and regulations. In addition, they are fully aware of commercial traditions and culture in Greece. That makes it easier to get your Greek debtor to pay quickly.
Debt Recovery in the Greek Language
Our lawyers speak both your language and Greek, which allows them to overcome language barriers with ease.
Customised Debt Recovery
Our commercial debt recovery approach is customised to each unique case, and we provide you with tailor-made advice.
We will always give our honest advice on the chances of success in your debt recovery matter. Putting your interests first is important to us; we endeavour to provide you with your options, as well as our advice on the best route to take. It’s easy to see how we put our core values of integrity and justice into practice.
The Debt Collection Process in Greece
The debt collection process in Greece can be divided into two stages. During the extrajudicial phase, collection takes place without Court intervention. During the judicial phase, we involve the Court in order to make your Greek debtor pay. Because we are a law firm, we can assist you during both stages. In Greece, most matters are resolved during the extrajudicial phase, without Court intervention.
1. Extrajudicial Debt Collection
- 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;
- Settlement agreement: in Greece, setting up a payment arrangement is often effective. In order to achieve results in negotiations, it is important to show understanding to your Greek trade partner;
- Announcing legal action: if there is no payment, announcing legal proceedings will often convince your Greek customer to pay. Greeks will do anything to prevent a court claim.
2. Judicial Debt Collection
- Order for payment proceedings (“Diatagi Pliromis”): If your claim is undisputed (there is no disagreement about the invoice), then “Diatagi Pliromis” proceedings can be commenced. These proceedings can lead to an enforceable title relatively quickly and efficiently. After the Court has issued its decision, our lawyer will apply the necessary means to enforce this title. For instance, by putting a charge on your debtor’s bank accounts;
- Ordinary civil proceedings (“Agogi”): If the claim is disputed (the debtor states the reasons why they will not pay), then your lawyer can issue a claim (“Agogi”) against the debtor. Both parties will then have to present their case. Sometimes the judge will decide the case summarily, and sometimes they will set a date for a court hearing. Depending on the details of your case, your lawyer will determine whether proceedings are appropriate;
- Interim measures (“Asfalistika Metra”): In urgent matters, for example, to avoid the risk of dissipation of assets, a petition can be submitted for interim legal action, or “Asfalistika Metra”. This is a temporary safeguarding of your legal rights, for instance in the form of a prejudgment seizure. Legal proceedings must be commenced within a time set by the judge, to prevent the measure from being lifted;
European order for payment proceedings:
- In the event of an undisputed claim between two parties based in EU Member States (except Denmark), it is possible to commence European Order for Payment proceedings. The lawyer handling your case can assess whether this kind of procedure is suitable in your case.
- For European Order for Payment proceedings, the creditor usually completes a standard form and submits this to the Court. The Court then issues a European Order for Payment. The debtor then has 30 days to state whether they object to the claim. If there is no response within the 30-day period, you may ask the Court to make the order for payment final (called a “declaration of enforceability”). This is a valid and enforceable judgment which is accepted in any Member State (except Denmark). The European Order for Payment is never appropriate for disputed matters (so not in cases where there is an argument about the invoice). The advantage of this procedure are speed and low costs (some Member States don’t even charge a court fee), but the disadvantage is that if it becomes disputed, the procedure comes to an end and an ordinary civil procedure will have to be started if the creditor wants to continue.