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Getting payment from French client
Thread poster: Marta France
Marta France
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:03
French to English
Apr 9, 2009

Hi, I worked for a new client in August 2008, did the work on time, and received written proof of client satisfaction. But no payment. I've used the services of a French lawyer, for which I've paid. Unfortunately it hasn't worked, and the lawyer says the next stage is the "tribunal".
Here in the UK we have the Small Claims Court, a system for recovering this kind of debt (about 2,000 euros).
But as my client is in France, I feel at a loss as to what to do next. I've tried the Chambre de Commerce, they just gave me the lawyer's number.
Does anyone know of an organisation that can offer me guidance and/or help in France? I'm reluctant to pay for any more legal help until I can be sure I'll get my money back.
Should I just forget it? I've been freelance for ten years and this is the only payment problem I've had.
Thanks in advance.


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Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:03
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
You may get some useful advice on the French forum Apr 9, 2009

Hi Marta,

No, you should not just forget about it.
Before anything else, I would suggest that you take three steps:

  • Post a Blue Board entry. This will help other translators to avoid being taken advantage of.
  • Search the French forum for "non paiement" and other plausible keywords; you will find a lot of useful information. Here is one link: Que faire en cas de non paiement.
  • If you need any further help, post specific details in the French forum; I am sure you will get useful tips.

Best of luck,
Attila


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Marta France
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:03
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
I'll try the French forum too Apr 9, 2009

Thanks Attila, I will try the French forum. I tried your French website link, it's quite useful but I'm still stumped. Legalese is tricky in English, let alone in French! Maybe I didn't need a lawyer for a "mise en demeure" but she's already charged me 400 euros to do this, with no result.
As for the Blue Board, the client is a small film production company, nothing to do with Proz.
Merci !
Marta


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Simon Mountifield  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:03
French to English
Some links to get you started Apr 9, 2009

Hi Marta,

As Attila suggested, this topic has cropped up a number of times in the French forum, so that would be the best place to start looking. It's a shame you didn't look there before appointing a lawyer, as you might have saved yourself some money. In any case, you certainly shouldn't forget about it. You'll need to go down the standard road of: "mise en demeure", "injonction à payer", etc. The procedure is quite straightforward and painless. Here's a couple of links:

http://www.proz.com/forum/business_issues/114839-non_paying_french_client_and_debt_recovery_fee.html
http://www.proz.com/forum/french/64946-rappel_de_facture_modèle.html
http://www.proz.com/forum/french/51688-mauvais_payeurs.html
http://www.proz.com/forum/french/92519-que_faire_en_cas_de_non_paiement.html

Best of luck,

Simon


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teddd76
Local time: 23:03
English to French
Recommandé Apr 9, 2009

My 2 cents (though I've never had to go beyond the reminder):
First, try to send your invoice and the written proof of client satisfaction as registered mail with proof of delivery (recommandé avec accusé de réception). This usually works well. Or try to put a negative entry on their Blueboard record.
Then call them every 2 days until you get the payment. Tell them you're entitled to payment penalties too (though I doubt they'll ever pay them).
If that doesn't work, contact a French local court (Tribunal d'instance), tell your story and get them to send your client an "injonction de payer" (payment order).
If that doesn't work, I'm afraid, you'll have to sue them (is the amount worth it?)


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Marta France
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:03
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your suggestions Apr 9, 2009

Unfortunately I only joined Proz recently and am just getting to know it's many useful features! I will have to look into the next step after the mise en demeure - but it all takes time, it's so frustrating! Being in a different country doesn't help.
Anyway, many thanks for your very prompt help and general support.
Best wishes,
Marta


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Justine Sherwood  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:03
Dutch to English
+ ...
European Small Claims Apr 10, 2009

Hi Marta,

new EU legislation came into force on 1.1.2009 so you can file a cross-border small claim, if it is less than 2000 euros. See

http://europa.eu/scadplus/leg/en/lvb/l16028.htm

You don't need a lawyer and the unsuccessful party pays the costs.

Good luck!

Justine


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Natasha Dupuy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:03
French to English
400 euros??? Apr 10, 2009

Hi Marta,

Your lawyer charged you 400 euros for a mise en demeure???!
A mise en demeure is something you can send directly to the client yourself by registered mail.
Anyhow... Unfortunately I have been through this whole process once and, if I remember correctly, the next step would be either to hire professionals to chase the debt for you,
or request an Injonction de Payer. You can do it online; it's very easy: http://www.infogreffe.fr/infogreffe/jsp/ip/fonctionnementIP.jsp

Once you have the Injonction de Payer, you must get a "huissier" to deliver it to your client. The huissier will send you confirmation once this is done... this usually costs about 70 euros.
From the time your client receives the Injonction de Payer, they have one month to contest it.
If they don't contest and still don't pay, you must request a "titre exécutoire" from the court... but the Huissier should explain all this to you.
If your client is going bust, you will need all these documents for your "déclaration de créances", so I do suggest pursuing the matter as far as you can.

Good luck!


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Marta France
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:03
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all! Apr 16, 2009

Thanks so much to everyone for their comments. Yes, I know, I was fleeced by the lawyer. But at the time I knew no better, despite having asked around friends in France (amazingly no-one had had to deal with this problem before!), and I had not yet found the proz forums and the really excellent support they offer.
My main problem now is finding time to deal with this...
Best wishes,
Marta


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