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 a Polish customer is not paying:
- Contact your customer immediately and ask why there has been no payment yet;
- If there no response to this, then send a written reminder;
- Clearly state the period of payment in this reminder. This is essential to having a strong position during potential legal proceedings;
- In Poland, the period of payment is usually 14-30 days;
- Add a specification of your claim to your reminder;
- 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;
- Put agreements in writing;
Our Polish Lawyers Are Familiar with Local Legislation
Our Polish debt recovery lawyers have extensive experience and knowledge of Polish legislation and regulations. In addition, they are fully aware of commercial traditions and culture in Poland. That makes it easier to get your Polish debtor to pay quickly.
Debt Recovery in the Polish Language
Our lawyers speak both your language and Polish, 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 Poland
The debt collection process in Poland 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 Polish debtor pay. Because we are a law firm, we can assist you during both stages. In Poland, 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;
- Set up a payment arrangement: In Poland, it is advisable to agree to a payment arrangement. A signed payment arrangement can also serve as an acknowledgment of the debt on the part of the debtor at a later stage. When entering into a payment arrangement, it is important that you engage the services of a Polish lawyer who speaks fluent Polish and is familiar with Polish negotiation tactics;
- Black list: Our lawyers are in a position to register Polish payment defaulters on a so-called black list, the “Krajowy Rejestr Długów”. Companies registered on that list often experience difficulty in finding new trade partners or maintaining existing relationships. As your customer undoubtedly wants to prevent that, this is a good means of exerting pressure;
- Announcing legal proceedings: Often, announcing legal proceedings will convince your Polish customer to pay.
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. The Polish Court does not have a fixed period of time for legal proceedings, which is why legal proceedings can sometimes take a long time. During the judicial phase, we have the following options to obtain payment:
- Order for payment (“Nakaz zapłaty”): For undisputed claims, there is an option to bring legal action by asking the court for an order for payment. The debtor has only fourteen days to respond. The debtor can pay, as stated in the order for payment, or indicate that he wants to put forward a defence against the order. If the debtor submits a defence, ordinary civil proceedings will be started. Order for payment proceedings are very popular, due to their speed, simplicity and cost-effectiveness. In total, an undisputed order for payment procedure usually takes around 12 weeks;
- Ordinary civil proceedings (“Postępowanie zwykłe”): Civil proceedings can be commenced if the debtor puts forward a defence against an order for payment, or when the claim is disputed. In cases that are disputed from the start, the debtor disagrees with your claim, and submits their reasons for not paying. Usually a hearing will take place at the Court. The claim will have to be substantiated with evidence. It is possible that we will have to provide witnesses to substantiate your claim. Civil proceedings in Poland last a minimum of six months but can 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.