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 in the event an Italian customer is not paying:
- Send your Italian customer a reminder immediately;
- Use a term of payment between three and seven days;
- Add a specification of the claim to the reminder;
- State in the reminder that if timely payment does not follow, you will hand the claim over for collection at the expense of the Italian customer;
- Acting swiftly increases the likelihood of receiving payment.
Our Italian Lawyers Are Familiar with Local Legislation
Our Italian debt recovery lawyers have extensive experience and knowledge of Italian legislation and regulations. In addition, they are fully aware of commercial traditions and culture in Italy. That makes it easier to get your Italian debtor to pay quickly.
Debt Recovery in the Italian Language
Our lawyers speak both your language and Italian, 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 Italy
The debt collection process in Italy can be divided into two stages. During the extrajudicial phase, collection takes place without Court intervention. During the judicial phase, we do involve the Court in order to make your Italian debtor pay. Because we are a law firm, we can assist you during both stages. In Italy, most matters are resolved during the extrajudicial phase, without Court intervention.
1. Extrajudicial Debt Collection
In principle, we always start the debt collection process with the extrajudicial phase. During this phase, we try to avoid the need to go to Court, as this can be expensive. We will contact your Italian debtor to demand payment. At this stage, we have the following options:
- 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;
- Set up a payment arrangement: Agreeing to a payment arrangement is often advisable. Once your customer has signed a payment arrangement, they have already acknowledged the debt. This can be useful at a later stage. However, when entering into a payment arrangement, it is important to engage the services of an Italian lawyer who speaks fluent Italian and is familiar with Italian negotiation tactics;
- Announcing legal proceedings: When no payment takes place, announcing legal proceedings will often convince your Italian customer to pay. They do not want to run the risk of a legal procedure being commenced against them.
2. Judicial Debt Collection
If your debtor refuses to pay during the extrajudicial phase, after discussion with you, we can 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 only 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”): If your debtor has filed a defence against the order for payment, or your claim is disputed? Then ordinary civil proceedings can be commenced. To do so, the claim needs to be justified and substantiated. Several hearings will follow, as stipulated by the Court. It is possible that witnesses need to be provided in order to substantiate your claim. These proceedings can sometimes take longer than a year.
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.