End client non-payment claim ever tried in court?
Thread poster: Jørgen Madsen

Jørgen Madsen  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:23
English to Danish
+ ...
May 1, 2010

I have an agency client who hasn't paid my invoice and indicating their client's non-payment as the reason. Although we all know this is not a valid excuse, I would like to wave a court ruling in their face to make them toe the line. Thanks!

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:23
Member (2007)
+ ...
Go for it! May 1, 2010

Of course, it all depends on a lot of factors:

Is it enough to be worth chasing? Normally, fees are paid by the losing party and in this case, if they are refusing to pay simply because they haven't been paid themselves, then there's no contest - you will win! But you normally have to pay the fees first, up-front, then wait for several months.

Is it going to be easy to get court action? This is normally in the client's country. If they are in the EU it should be OK but elsewhere could be problemmatic, especially if you do not speak the country's language well.

Can the client pay? Even if the court rules in your favour, if the client has no assets they will simply declare bankruptcy and in that case you will probably lose everything, including your legal fees.

In my own case, the client thought he was within his rights not to pay. I had stupidly signed a contract whereupon I accepted to wait until the end of a 38-hour teaching course before I was paid. Well, the student (a beginner in English at the age of 56) realised he wasn't about to speak English fluently and gave up. When the agency refused payment for the 12 hours of training given, I took them to court.

Unfortunately, if it always follows the same procedure, you don't get to wave anything - the bailiff serves the order. In my case, the client stupidly ignored it so we went through another round. I don't know what happened next (apart from more legal fees, which was a bit worrying) but I was eventually sent a cheque. The contract clause had been declared abusive and they were ordered to pay everything they owed, including fees and interest.

So, if you want to go ahead, check that the company is solvent (that should be possible if the register of companies is available online as it is in France), then gather every piece of documentation in support of your claim to be paid. If you have evidence that they received the translation, then that's great.

By the way, in France you have to send a registered letter giving a final payment due date, and wait for it to pass before the court will take action.

Good luck and keep us posted!


PS I'm no legal expert and I only have one experience in France, so don't take my experience to be a rule.

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María Jareño Arias  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:23
English to Spanish
+ ...
Non payment: Spain May 6, 2010

In Spain for debts under 900 euros you can perform a "Procedimiento Monitorio". You do not need a lawyer for this. You just have to submitt the required documents at the Court. It's quite efficient and fast.

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