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Charging interest on a non-payer
Thread poster: Edward Potter

Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:10
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Oct 19, 2004

Hello colleagues,

I am in the process of bringing a deadbeat customer to court. Basically, it is seven months past the invoice date and there is no money in sight. It is the typical situation - excuse after excuse but no money.

So, being good on my word (I threatened to take him to court) I am now suing. I would like to ask you how much I ought to charge for late interest. Does anyone have a rule of thumb? Thanks in advance.


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:10
German to English
+ ...
Interest rates Oct 19, 2004

If I were you, I would demand the maximum legal amount (there are different types and it depends where you are, what's is in your contract and what law governs your contractual - amongst many other things). Consult an attorney or ask at the court for the numbers of those attornies or organizations that give free advice on basic legal issues (such as this).

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Sheilann  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:10
Spanish to English
Legal interest in Span Oct 19, 2004

The legal interest rate in Spain is twenty percent (20%), as from 3 months after the payment date. And you can claim it retroactively.

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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:10
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not in Spain Oct 19, 2004

My company is in the U.S. and the deadbeat is also a U.S. company.

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María-Teresa Araneda  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
Enough documentation to sue? Oct 19, 2004

Dear Mr. Potter,
This is the first time I hear of taking to court a customer who does not want to pay, in the field of Translations, I mean. I think that you should be supported by someone or some entity that defend the rights of translators. If you win, we will all win. Anyway, do you have enough documentation to do this?

Good Luck and my best regards,

Maria-Teresa Araneda
Chile


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Kevin Fulton
United States
Local time: 10:10
German to English
In the US, it depends upon the state Oct 19, 2004

Unless your purchase order specifies an interest penalty, you'll have a difficult time getting interest as part of your judgement. In many states of the US, however, there is an interest penalty on late payment of a judgement. Your attorney should be able to advise you in this regard.

If you're trying to file a small claims action, make sure the state in which you are filing allows representation by a personal representative (unless you're planning to appear in court yourself). The plaintiff's absence in small claims court generally results in dismissal of the suit.


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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:10
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Courts Oct 19, 2004

Yes, different states have different rules. In Maryland, in small claims court you can both represent yourself and claim interest for late payment.
Indeed, if the plaintiff does not show up he loses his case. Contrarily, if the defendent does not show up, he loses. It is a question of respect for the court.

María Teresa,

Thank you for your input. I see nothing out of the ordinary by taking a deadbeat to court, no matter what the sector. And yes, I have plenty of evidence that they owe me the money. It would certainly be very cheeky if they said they never owed me any money.


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:10
German to English
+ ...
What defendants say... Oct 20, 2004

Edward Potter wrote:
It would certainly be very cheeky if they said they never owed me any money.


It is my experience that the defendant doesn't usually claim flat out that they don't owe money (though it does happen time and again). Usually they argue with more petty things like "quality of the translation", "timeliness, legibility or completeness of invoice", "monies owed by the plaintiff", etc. and try to draw the whole thing out - presumeably to 'buy time'.

I also think it is entirely correct to demand payment of your services (I can't remember the last time some company just decided not to pursue debts owed to them by myself - purely out of kindness). Business is business.

Many defendants (at least in Germany) often let things go that far and then finally do pay. It gets tiresome when they only pay the amount that they owed originally, because you then most likely end up having to sue them again for the costs of the first procedure (and for things like interest, court fees, attorney fees, etc.). But still, I think that there is every reason for you to stand up for yourself and assert your rights (though I would still suggest consulting an attorney - sometimes the cases that appear most simple can get quite out of hand, expecially with regard to the costs).


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