Collecting in another country - how do you do that?
Thread poster: ViktoriaG

ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:12
English to French
+ ...
Oct 30, 2005

Hello all,

I have a serious question. I am in Canada and a "client" of mine in Spain has not paid an invoice for THREE separate jobs in over NINE months. I sent her polite messages and she never replied. I lost patience and in the last e-mail I sent her, I tell her that if she does not pay up, I will start collection procedures and I will leave negative feedback on translation industry black-lists (such as the BlueBoard).

She replied, for once. She says that I got paid for two of the three jobs (not true, her payment was returned because she put the wrong name on the payment and I told her about it in detail, so she knows I never got paid) and that, for the third job, I will not get paid because it was of poor quality (and she tells me this six months after I send her the job, and only once I start demanding the payment).

I left her a BB feedback, to which she replied by openly attacking my reputation. Needless to say, the feedback was removed, as she was way past the limit of what is legally allowed.

Now I have a serious question, as I am about to start two different procedures: collection, and legal action for defamation. What I need to know is, as I am in Canada and she is in Spain, will the laws relevant to my case be the Canadian ones or the Spanish ones? I don't want to spend 100$ on a simple question like this, so anybody with legal knowledge, please tell me how this works. Anybody with a similar experience, by all means, please give me insight.

Thanks in advance!


Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:12
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Did you have a written contract? Oct 30, 2005

Hi Viktoria,

You want to know in which country the case would be fought? It is a pretty complex issue. The first thing it would depend upon is whether you entered any form of written contract with the client concerned, and whose Terms and Conditions of Business apply. Naturally, if you did not supply any Terms and Conditions of Business, or do not have any, it will be the client's Terms and Conditions that apply (and I assume an agency would have them). These will then in all probability mention the client's country as the place of jurisdiction.

If there is nothing in writing involved, then I can provide a little more information, but no definite answer, as the case then does have no clear-cut answer.



Richard Creech  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:12
French to English
+ ...
Law in the Cyber Age Oct 30, 2005

I am an attorney and know something about how some courts have handled this matter. However, please treat the following as background information only and not as specific legal advice for your situation.

Questions regarding jurisdiction in internet-based activities are arising more quickly than courts can deal with them. Every jursdiction has what is known as "choice of law" rules to determine whose substantive law governs a particular case. If you brought suit in Spain, Spain's choice of law rules would govern. If you brought suit in Canada, Canadian rules would govern. Whether you can bring suit in a particular jurisdiction depends on whether the would-be defendant is amenable to suit there.

Regardless of where you bring the action, the court would apply its own choice of law rules to determine whose substantive law would govern. Courts do sometimes decide that they have power to hear a case but that they should apply the law of some other jurisdiction in the case.

The High Court of Australia became the first court of last resort (highest in any particular country) to consider this issue in 2002 when an Australian businessman sued a New York-based publisher for defamation in an Australian court after the publisher posted an article on its website. The trial court applied Australian law (which is more favorable for plaintiffs than American law), but the publisher appealed on the grounds that American law should apply, as the allegedly defamatory article was uploaded onto the web in the U.S. Ultimately the High Court ruled that the application of Australian law was appropriate as that was where the plaintiff resided and where his reputation could be viewed as centered.

You should consult an attorney in Canada or Spain for advice specific to your situation.


ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:12
English to French
+ ...
Thanks for the insight Oct 31, 2005

Hey, thanks to both of you who have responded!

This sure seems to be complex... I like the example case about the defamation, it actually is my case here. After threatening to collect her, the client in question posted a defamatory and highly damageable remark on the BB, and I am afraid it may have been seen by others. Even if I know that none of it was true and it was merely a desperate attempt at "finishing me", the people who may have seen this have the right to think otherwise, not knowing her or me. So, in case it did damage anything, I think I owe it to myself to bring the person to justice, as they may have actually kept me from getting that contract I was trying for. Also, people who do these kinds of things should at some point be fought against, as I don't think even the worst translator deserves to be treated this way. So, by bringing her to justice, I also do fellow translators a favor, as my "aggressor" may not be as rude and inconsiderate the next time she faces collection.

She attacked my money-maker on top of not paying what she owes. I guess it's only fair game to collect and have her answer the court about an offence this serious.

Cheers to both of you!


Brandis (X)
Local time: 08:12
English to German
+ ...
laws of production country Oct 31, 2005

generally are applied,unless otherwise agreed in your contract. This is universally same. Brandis


Claudio Chagas (X)
Local time: 03:12
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Dog Eat Dog Oct 31, 2005

That is a rather complex issue, I am afraid. And if in the real world, with clearly delimited territories, prosecutions and legal actions can be a nightmare, what to say of the Internet? The best thing to do to save yourself money and worrying over lawsuits is to avoid the high risk of working on short projects for companies/agencies you don't know well. The problem is that once you deliver your work the client has little to loose. Whereas when you are working on a longer project, you can deliver half of the work, and demand payment for what you have already done. It's less likely that the client will risk loosing the other half. Once you have something they want from you you have bargaining power to keep you going until the end. I have seen some cases where people would not bother asking for payment as it's stated in the terms of the invoice, e.g. Net 30 Days, and end up never being paid because the company got sold or merged with a company in another country, and the new owners say they don't have any responsibility over the matter. That's a poor excuse, I know, but in this "Dog Eat Dog" world it's always best to prevent.


Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
English to German
+ ...
It's not a 100$ question Oct 31, 2005

...I don't want to spend 100$ on a simple question like this, so anybody with legal knowledge, please tell me how this works.

If you would send your above question to a lawyer in Spain, he could tell you exactly what he can do, how much it would cost, and how good your chances are. This information is generally free.


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Collecting in another country - how do you do that?

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