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Client in Belgium not paying - where can I sue?
Thread poster: LegalTrans D

LegalTrans D  Identity Verified
Turkey
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Mar 30, 2010

Hello,

For 15 years, I've successfully dodged non-payers but I guess you've got to go through the experience once.

The client I'm having problems with is an agency in Belgium that I've been working with for a number of years now. They've always had a - shall we say "relaxed" - attitude as far as payment deadlines were concerned, but this time it's different. In their last message they promised to pay by last week Feb/first week March. Now, they don't even reply to my e-mail messages and faxes, and the responsible person is never available to talk to me on the phone.

I've given them a deadline by which I expect payment. If there is no payment, I'll go to court. This is where I need help.

Is there something like a "small claims" court in Belgium that I can turn to? If yes, where can I find it on the Internet? What else should I watch out for?

Thanks in advance for your help!

Actually, I almost went through this once before--I had a problem with an agency in England that I solved through the small claims court there. The procedure was fairly simple and straightforward--I could submit everything over the Internet and just had to pay the court fee. Three months later, I had a cheque in the mail. Three cheers to the English legal system! I hope the Belgian system will be just as convenient.

Volkmar


 

Tiến Anh Lê  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Local time: 12:14
Member (2007)
English to Vietnamese
+ ...
The English court Mar 30, 2010

Sorry to hear about your current problem.

But could you please give out the website of the court that you used last time in England so that everyone can benefit from that?

All the bests,
Smiles


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:14
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Here in France ... Mar 30, 2010

You absolutely have to send an official "last warning" letter before any court will be interested. It needs to be sent by registered post and state all the necessary information ie invoice n°, date and amount and the amount of time they are given to pay (here in France that's normally two weeks) before you will take the matter to the courts. You can insist on interest being paid on the amount.

Only when this deadline has passed will a court take action, requiring copies of this letter, the invoice, any contract, PO, emails etc. I really can't see things being any different in Belgium and
I'm sure there's an SCC in Belgium, but it's not my country so I hope someone from there will post.

Good luck and keep us posted on results.


 

LegalTrans D  Identity Verified
Turkey
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Court Service in England Mar 30, 2010

smiles wrote:

could you please give out the website of the court that you used last time in England so that everyone can benefit from that?

All the bests,
Smiles


Here it is, Smiles:

http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/


 

LegalTrans D  Identity Verified
Turkey
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
French Law or Belgian Law? Mar 30, 2010

Sheila Wilson wrote:

You absolutely have to send an official "last warning" letter before any court will be interested. It needs to be sent by registered post and state all the necessary information ie invoice n°, date and amount and the amount of time they are given to pay


Thank you, Sheila! Are you referring to French law or to Belgian law? There may be significant differences between the two.


 

Albert Golub  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:14
English to French
see this file Mar 30, 2010

http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/judicialatlascivil/html/pdf/vers_consolide_en_861.pdf

 

Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:14
Flemish to English
+ ...
Alles,was recht is, außer in Belgien. Mar 30, 2010

Volkmar Hirantner wrote:
I hope the Belgian system will be just as convenient.
Volkmar



Given that I am from Belgium and that I know the judicial system a little:

The Belgian system is anything but convenient. It is a bureaucracy.

In Belgium, a debt is to be collected by the creditor, not paid at the initiative of the debtor. In practice, this means that you will have to knock at the door of the agency in person. Otherwise, you have to call upon the services of a lawyer, who will write letters to your customer. If he does not respond in a positive way, he will have to call upon the services of a bailiff (costs 125-140 euros) to serve a writ for non-payment of invoice. This case then appears before the court where your customer lives (which is why I always put on the back of my invoices that the district-court of the customer shall be the only competent court in case of dispute). It is up to the judge to decide who is right and who is wrong. If, as a plaintiff, you lose a trial in Belgium, you must not only pay the cost of the trial and the baillif.

If your customer wants to play hardball, he can choose the language of the proceedings and all the pieces of evidence have to be translated in the language of choice of your customer. The choice of languages in Belgium is free, but has to be one of the three official languages: Dutch,French or German.

The verdict of a court might take a year or more.

An less expensive alternative, I would use if I were in your shoes, would be to call upon the services of intrum.be.
You will lose a %-age, but this credit-collection agency will send reminders and take the customer to court if necessary.
Their website is also in French and if you send an email to their address, they will answer in English.



[Edited at 2010-03-30 14:29 GMT]


 

Cristiana Coblis  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 07:14
English to Romanian
+ ...
some useful links and documents Mar 30, 2010

Here are some guidelines (in French) from the association Chambre belge des traducteurs, interprètes et philologues:
http://www.fit-europe.org/vault/badpayers/Recouvrement_Belgique.pdf

Also, if the two parteies reside in EU countries, this may help:
http://www.fit-europe.org/vault/badpayers/EU-Regulation-en.html

Good luck!


 

Alp Berker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:14
Turkish to English
+ ...
I am having the same issue with a company in Spain Mar 30, 2010

I apologize for changing the location, but I am going through the same issues, but with a company is Spain, what should I do? I am based in the US, any advice for pursuing what is owed to me would help.
thanks,
Alp Berker


 

Leticia Rigano  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:14
Spanish to English
+ ...
Me too... Mar 30, 2010

Alp Berker wrote:

I apologize for changing the location, but I am going through the same issues, but with a company is Spain, what should I do? I am based in the US, any advice for pursuing what is owed to me would help.
thanks,
Alp Berker



Hello, I am in the same situation as Alp. In my case, t is not a company but a private "so called" customer, here in Spain. I have done my translation (which was urgent) past mid-Feb and not yet received feedback regarding payment nor answer (e-mails, phone calls, etc.).

This customer is a ProZ member (translator), which means one of us!!!

I cannot believe that such a betrayal can be done by a colleague!
I do not want to be forced to go to court for that, but it makes me furious. I am still wating, thinking to set a payment deadline in my mind for after easter. If not payed, I was thinking to open a forum and reveal HER name.

Sorry for the tone, but I am still upset!!!

Thank you everyone.


 

Romy Retzlaff  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:14
French to German
+ ...
same issue with client in Belgium Mar 30, 2010

I also have a paiment issue with a client in Belgium, I used a "European order for payment procedure", there is a form to fill out, you have to proof that you send reminders to the client, and to send it to the 'Tribunal de commerce' in Brussels. They know the procedure. I don't know if it will work and how long it will take but it is worth a try. I did send it last week.

 

Yolanda Broad  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:14
Member (2000)
French to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
Reminder: no outsourcer names in the Forum Mar 30, 2010

Hi folks,

Just a quick reminder that outsourcers (people who hire you for jobs) can't be named or otherwise identified in the Forums. There's a special place for posting your experience with an outsourcer: the Blue Board. You can post about both good and bad experiences. Please do use it. It helps everybody when we share information about our job experiences. If you don't find an outsourcer listed, you can add a new record to the Blue Board.


 

Leticia Rigano  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:14
Spanish to English
+ ...
Well.... Mar 30, 2010

Yolanda Broad wrote:

Hi folks,

Just a quick reminder that outsourcers (people who hire you for jobs) can't be named or otherwise identified in the Forums. There's a special place for posting your experience with an outsourcer: the Blue Board. You can post about both good and bad experiences. Please do use it. It helps everybody when we share information about our job experiences. If you don't find an outsourcer listed, you can add a new record to the Blue Board.



Ok, don't worry Yolanda. I understand it's a "procedure", and I'll follow it, as my intention is to solve the problem and not to create another one. But I do think it's not fair, though, especially when it comes from a colleague, and may con many others.

Sorry, if I insist on that, and I again apologize for the tone.

[Edited at 2010-03-30 21:34 GMT]


 

NetLynx  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:14
English to Danish
+ ...
Even if names cannot be given here ... Mar 30, 2010

Hello Alp,

I strongly suspect that I know the company - by the same reason as you.

And hi to all bright and trustworthy translators,

As Denmark is only partly a member state of the EU, and is not in the particular case of Small Claims Procedure, I would like to know whether I (and Alp and Volkmar) can use the Procecedure within "member states" = EU except DK.

Specifically, does anyone know if I am excluded from using the Procedure in other EU member states?


Best regards - and Happy Easter

Erik


 

Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:14
Flemish to English
+ ...
Why hurry? Mar 31, 2010

Romy Retzlaff wrote:

I also have a paiment issue with a client in Belgium, I used a "European order for payment procedure", there is a form to fill out, you have to proof that you send reminders to the client, and to send it to the 'Tribunal de commerce' in Brussels. They know the procedure. I don't know if it will work and how long it will take but it is worth a try. I did send it last week.


You should make a distinction between everything EU and Belgium.
The HQ of the EU is an island in Brussels with Eurocrats.
However, Belgian officials are not that well paid.
So, where is the rush?

Brussels is the worst judicial district when it comes down to speed of handling cases. Overburdened, bureaucratic.
Some clients in Brussels will send you translations and look for needles in haystacks afterwards to reduce their invoices.


 
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