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 if your Dutch customer is not paying:
- Call your Dutch customer immediately and ask why there has been no payment yet;
- Is there no response to this, then send a written reminder;
- Clearly state the period of payment in this reminder;
- You may send a demand letter by email if you are used to communicating digitally with your customer;
- State that if there is no timely payment, you will hand your claim over for collection and that the debt recovery costs will be added to the claim.
Our Dutch Lawyers Are Familiar with Local Legislation
Our Dutch debt recovery lawyers have extensive experience and knowledge of Dutch legislation and regulations. In addition, they are fully aware of commercial traditions and culture in the Netherlands. That makes it easier to get your Dutch debtor to pay quickly.
Debt Recovery in the Dutch Language
Our lawyers speak both your language and Dutch, 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 the Netherlands
The debt collection process in the Netherlands 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 Dutch debtor pay. Because we are a law firm, we can assist you during both stages. In the Netherlands, more than 95% of debt recovery 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;
- Draft a payment arrangement: In some cases, we can agree to a brief payment arrangement. The advantage of this is that if the debtor does not adhere to this arrangement, there can be no discussion as to whether your claim is valid or not. After all, if the debtor agrees to a payment arrangement, then the claim is acknowledged by the debtor;
- Announcing legal proceedings: When no payment takes place, announcing legal proceedings will often convince your Dutch customer to pay. Your Dutch customer does not want to run the risk of legal proceedings being commenced against them.
- Bankruptcy petition: The most effective debt recovery tool in the Netherlands is threatening to submit a bankruptcy petition. This is a fast, inexpensive means of maximizing the pressure on the debtor.
2. Judicial Debt Collection
- Bankruptcy proceedings (“Faillissementsaanvraag”): Bankruptcy proceedings can be started in an undisputed claim. Bankruptcy proceedings are very fast; a hearing will take place at Court within three weeks. During this hearing, the Court determines whether the debtor shall be declared bankrupt. In principle, however, the aim of the bankruptcy petition is to exert pressure on the debtor in order to obtain payment of your claim. Many debtors will pay very quickly. If the debtor is genuinely unable to pay, then they may be declared bankrupt. In that event, a Receiver will be appointed, who will then divide the assets of the debtor fairly among all creditors;
- Ordinary civil proceedings: For both disputed and undisputed claims, it is possible to commence civil proceedings. This means that legal action is brought against the debtor. The Court may order the debtor to pay your claim. In these proceedings, evidence may be submitted in various ways. The Court will often attempt to persuade the parties arrive at a settlement. The disadvantage of these proceedings is that they take a relatively long time. On average, straightforward civil proceedings in the Netherlands take six months to a year. If the matter is complex, it can take even longer (approximately one to two years). There might also be an appeal, which adds to the time until the case is finally resolved.
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.