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What is the best course of legal action to go for? (in France)
Thread poster: Jeremy Smith

Jeremy Smith  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:04
French to English
+ ...
Jul 13, 2004

I have an unpaid debt of over 3000 EUR dating back several months from one of my clients (details duly entered into the Blue Board - what a shame I wasn't a platinum member when this agency first contacted me - then I would have known to steer well clear). After receiving all the excuses under the sun as to why they couldn't pay, after I e-mailed and rang them several times, I decided to send them a final demand for payment by registered letter. They replied, saying their clients had defaulted on them, but that they were able to offer a fifteen-month payment plan. If I accepted this plan, that would mean I would finally receive full payment for my work almost two years after completing my translations for them. This is clearly not acceptable. I wrote to them to tell them this, giving them a final offer of my own payment plan of three months, which I feel is rather generous on my part. This morning, I received an e-mail from them saying they cannot pay me according to my terms, and that in effect, I either have to agree to the 15 month plan or not get paid at all. This makes me rather angry.

Am I being unreasonable in rejecting this 15 month plan? I don't think so - they are a limited company, with all the financial protection that entails; I'm just one guy on his own trying to make ends meet.

So my question is this: what legal methods should I employ to force them to pay me? I am in the UK and my (former) client is in France. Are "Huissier de Justice" terribly expensive?

I hope this thread doesn't contravene forum rules - I haven't named the agency, after all.


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Albert Golub  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:04
English to French
http://www.huissierdeparis.com/htmlbleu/contactez.html Jul 13, 2004

Un e-mail envoyé à un huissier quelconque répertorié sur le site ci-dessus devrait vous apporter une réponse
bonne chance


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Jeremy Smith  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:04
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks et merci Jul 13, 2004

I see there is a glossary of terms on the site that Albert mentions, which may be of use to some people: http://www.huissierdeparis.com/htmlbleu/lexiq.html

[Edited at 2004-07-13 12:44]


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:04
English to German
+ ...
Slight correction, if I may... Jul 13, 2004

...simply because others may draw the wrong conclusions.
I have an unpaid debt of over 3000 EUR dating back several months from one of my clients (details duly entered into the Blue Board - what a shame I wasn't a platinum member when this agency first contacted me - then I would have known to steer well clear).


You don't have to be a Platinum member to use the BlueBoard: entering a rating is free anyway, and non-Platinum members can access ratings, too, at a cost of 50 BrowniZ points or USD 0.50 per outsourcer. Note that this "opens the door", so you don't have to pay every time to return to view the same record.

Best regards, Ralf


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Anne Gillard-Groddeck  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:04
German to English
Take independent legal advice Jul 13, 2004

You should see your solicitor.

I know that this is tough on you, but the company is offering you a payment plan. If you insist on getting the money faster you might force them into bankruptcy and as they are a limited company you might end up with nothing at all.

Their own client may have gone bankrupt. There are insolvencies left right and centre in Germany at the moment, so this is nothing uncommon.

Of course they may be making completely false allegations, but this would then be a serious matter.

Good luck

Anne


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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:04
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Tough decision Jul 13, 2004

You are in a tough spot (obviously). You might start accepting some of the money, any of it, immediately. You can see if they are good on their word and just grin and bear it for a year and a half. On the other hand you might want to start attacking. it is a tough decision but it is yours to make. Good luck.

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xxxTransflux
Local time: 12:04
French to English
+ ...
Up the stakes Jul 13, 2004

Hello Jeremy,

I'm sorry to hear about your dilemna. I had the same problem with an agency in Belgium, who I later found out, after working for them for 5 months without getting paid, were notorious non payers. Susequently, I was in contact with many other translators who had not been paid by this agency. The sum owed was considerable, several thousand euros. So I was on the brink of calling in a debt collector, who would have taken 25% of any amount recovered and would have had 2 years to recover the amount, while in the meantime I would have been unable to pursue the debt. So that is an option not to be taken lightly.

In the end I called them every day, said that I would start charging interest, refused to accept any excuses (there were many), adopted an aggressive tone and said that the next course of action would be legal. They did pay up quite quickly after that. You have to mean business. These kind of agencies will always get away with what you allow them to get away with.
Other translators I know have said to non-paying agencies that they will inform other translators on all the forums that they are non-payers, but I don't know how wise it is to make threats, it may weaken your case should you take them to court. In my opinion they are almost certainly stalling. If they are still operating then they have your money and you need to convince them that you need paying. If you start paying for solicitors then you are even more out of pocket but you can hardly write this sum off. I have chased even the smallest sums out of principle and so far no one has defaulted, so I have been lucky.

I would continue to hassle them for a while yet and start sending invoices with interest charged calculated. If you could get a shorter payment period from them, say 6 months, if they really won't pay you in full, then it might be the best option, since there are already too many translators out there who have been cheated and accepted non payment instead of chasing the debt to the very end which would have helped their colleagues as well as themselves.

I realise I haven't really answered your question, but I hope I have helped in a small way. I believe you will get better legal advice if you post in the French forum for native French speakers. They will know the ins and outs of the equivalent of a "small claims court".

Best of luck


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Jeremy Smith  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:04
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Jul 13, 2004

Thanks everybody.

I consulted my solicitor this afternoon. He told me that it would be very risky to try and sue them at this stage, as it could prove very costly - certainly if I tried to do this on my own.

He told me it might be wisest to accept this 15 month payment plan, with the caveat that any late payment of any monthly instalment will mean the immediate payment of the full sum or remainder thereof.

It would, however, sicken me to give in to this agency. I shall try the suggestion above, about offering a six-month plan.

I'll have to send this off to them straight away - going off on holiday tomorrow.

Thanks again.


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David Sirett
Local time: 12:04
French to English
+ ...
Charge interest Jul 16, 2004

Jeremy Smith wrote:
He told me it might be wisest to accept this 15 month payment plan, with the caveat that any late payment of any monthly instalment will mean the immediate payment of the full sum or remainder thereof.


Should you accept a 15-month instalment scheme, make sure that it includes a reasonable amount of added interest: you are effectively loaning them part of the money for over a year.

Regards
David


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