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Urgent legal advice needed: suing an Indian translation agency for non-payment
Thread poster: pj-ffm
pj-ffm
Local time: 08:54
German to English
Oct 4, 2011

To cut a long story short, after several reminders to pay invoices for work I performed in June, on Sept 6th I received an email from the Indian woman in question:

Your payments for June are under processing.

Thank you for your patience.


and then on Sept 10th:

We are in the process of clearing the payments.

There has been lot of disruption in India and especially in Delhi for the past one month with holidays due to agitation movements,bomb explosion,earthquake,non-stop rain and festivals.


Due to a previous non-payment dispute I had submitted a poor LWA rating for her on the Blue Board as a warning to other service providers that she was not a reliable business partner. She immediately managed to get it suppressed by claiming that I had not met delivery deadlines, a claim that was false and clearly refuted by the email traffic between us (which I forwarded to Proz.com for evaluation).

Eventually, the email traffic evaluation was completed and the suppressed LWA was released and made visible.

Since this has happened, and in reponse to further requests for payment, I have received two emails from her, demanding that I remove the negative Blue Board LWA entry in order to get paid:

I also said to remove the Blue Board entry.

Please have the entry removed to get paid.


Today my associate phoned her to give her a last chance to resolve the issue without legal action, and she made it agressively clear that she had no intention of making payment unless the entry was removed.

Clearly she is in breach of Proz.com rules in trying to subvert the LWA system and blackmail me into removing the report in this way.

Of course, I could capitulate to her demands and remove the LWA rating just to avoid a potentially long and costly legal battle, but quite frankly, even if I did so I do not trust her to keep the deal. And what is the point of the LWA system if it encourages such dishonest tactics?

As she is also in clear breach of contractual terms of business and payment schedule agreed, I can only presume she is hoping that since I am in Germany and she in India, the effort involved in suing her for the $6000+ outstanding will put me off taking her to court.

(I have already contacted the Indo-German chamber of commerce to discuss this, and although they do offer a collection service and legal advice, this is geared to large coporations and would cost more than the outstanding sum.)

Anyway, although I can use a German lawyer to set things in motion this side, since the court of jurisdiction is in Delhi, India, I really need some advice on how I should go about hiring suitable counsel there.

I have enough documentary evidence to ensure I would win such a case, but I obviously don't want to have to absorb the costs involved. In Germany, the court costs plus interest for late payment would be paid by the defendant. Is this also the case in India?

I am also aware that I am not the only service provider who has had a very similar experience with this person. Would it make sense for us to file a joint complaint?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Kind regards,
Peter.


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 14:54
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Possibility Oct 4, 2011

Agencies here are very likely to avoid payments. They also make simple matters complicate. Why not seek other reliable agencies or check strictly before going with them? Many "she's" here failed to pay me as well.

India is good to communicate in English and most UK style court systems are anticipated.

Soonthon Lupkitaro


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pj-ffm
Local time: 08:54
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Question is, can we rely on the LWA? Oct 4, 2011

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.) wrote:

Agencies here are very likely to avoid payments. They also make simple matters complicate. Why not seek other reliable agencies or check strictly before going with them? Many "she's" here failed to pay me as well.

India is good to communicate in English and most UK style court systems are anticipated.

Soonthon Lupkitaro


Indeed, I did check the LWA rating for her company and it didn't look too bad, but I now wonder how many other service providers were blackmailed into removing poor LWAs just in order to get paid, and thereby keep the rating high.

I know of at least one other, as after my LWA was finally released he contacted me with a near identical story...


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MartinPorto  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 07:54
French to English
+ ...
Very risky at best! Oct 4, 2011

Although I have never dealt with any translation agencies or companies in India, my advice would be to consider things very carefully indeed! Why? India is a place where just about anything can be made to happen, whether in legal matters, admisistrative things, or just about anything to do with the system, which would put you at a disadvantage right from the start, things can take huge amounts of time, and things just get more and more complicated.

My comments are not based on anything to do with translation, it is just that I am married to an Indian, and consequently have had to deal with India many times, concerning my wife and her daughter, it was a long, very long slow process. Beware!


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Theo Bernards  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:54
English to Dutch
+ ...
Another possibility or two... Oct 4, 2011

Ask the client if she can live with reversing the order in which things should happen: you are of course more than happy to have the LWA entry removed after you have received the payment in full. You can of course always decide to wait a few months with that, same as she waited a few months with paying you.

Alternatively, why not look for a law firm in the vicinity of the client (should not be so difficult with the help of the internet), send them a lengthy email in English outlining every detail including the blackmail attempt to have the LWA entry removed and ask them what it would cost to begin official proceedings? Make sure to cc the non-paying client in that email and see what happens.

I am not a legal specialist but I did this twice with Polish clients and it worked like a charm, payment within a few days, including late payment penalties.

Also, but that depends on your terms & conditions, you could consider approaching the end client of that agency. As I said, depending on your own terms & conditions, but under my terms & conditions that is a possibility: I offer absolute discretion but in case of non-payment that offer of confidentiality is null and void, giving me the option of making a lot of waves in the sea where the non-payer resides. Losing a big client is probably not an attractive idea for the client, so they might be tempted to pay you to prevent that from happening...


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MartinPorto  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 07:54
French to English
+ ...
Good advice! Oct 4, 2011

Good advice from Theo, might well be worth a try, if it only cost some time and effort then why not try that! In my previous post, I was not trying to be negative, but as said, my dealings with, and my knowledge gained about India taught me just one word CAUTION!

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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:54
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Fool me once...? Oct 4, 2011

There is one thing I don't understand.
pj-ffm wrote:

Due to a previous non-payment dispute I had submitted a poor LWA rating for her on the Blue Board


Do you mean you had another non-payment issue with her before?
If that is the case, why did you work for her again?

Anyway, in your current situation you should report this person to ProZ staff, because she is in breach of the rules by blackmailing you. Along with the non-payment report (which I assume you submitted, if not, please do so) she may get banned from ProZ and get a nice warning on her BB record. As to getting your money, others already gave good advice, try to find a local collection agency (that is reliable) - perhaps with a couple of large, heavy-set local "friends", who could "pay her a visit".


Katalin


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pj-ffm
Local time: 08:54
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Finding a lawyer... Oct 4, 2011

Theo Bernards wrote:

Ask the client if she can live with reversing the order in which things should happen: you are of course more than happy to have the LWA entry removed after you have received the payment in full. You can of course always decide to wait a few months with that, same as she waited a few months with paying you.


Thanks for the response, Theo. Well, that may work, but I am loathe to let her blackmail attempt succeed. And how will others learn of her business practices?


Alternatively, why not look for a law firm in the vicinity of the client (should not be so difficult with the help of the internet), send them a lengthy email in English outlining every detail including the blackmail attempt to have the LWA entry removed and ask them what it would cost to begin official proceedings? Make sure to cc the non-paying client in that email and see what happens.


This sounds like a good plan, and I have been doing a fair amount of searching, but there are a lot of lawyers and a I have no real way of knowing who is likely to do a good job for a reasonable price. I also looked into the "small claims court" (that in the UK and USA would be appropriate for this sort of thing) but the amount involved here exceeds the maximum allowed in India.

I really need to get an idea of how the costs are allocated in the Indian court system and what is acceptable as late payment penalty interest etc. Also, I don't want to have to fly to New Delhi personally if it comes to court...


Also, but that depends on your terms & conditions, you could consider approaching the end client of that agency. As I said, depending on your own terms & conditions, but under my terms & conditions that is a possibility: I offer absolute discretion but in case of non-payment that offer of confidentiality is null and void, giving me the option of making a lot of waves in the sea where the non-payer resides. Losing a big client is probably not an attractive idea for the client, so they might be tempted to pay you to prevent that from happening...


I would very much like to contact the end client, but unfortunately the contract specifically mentions that contacting the end client is not permitted and that damages may be imposed if this happens. Even though the project has long since ended, I am sure she would use it as an excuse to justify paying me nothing.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:54
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Oxymoron Oct 4, 2011

I hope you take my opinion in a constructive manner: "urgent" and "legal advice" form an oxymoron. You certainly don't want to get "urgent legal advice", but "good legal advice".

Although the colleagues here will do their best to offer some hints, good legal advice must be provided by lawyers, the same way a good translation will be made by a professional translator.

Personally I would go back one step, take a deep breath, and then analyse this in detail with a lawyer. Chances are that, if you don't do that, you will at the very least postpone your collection for a very long time.

(As for the Blueboard entry, I really think you should keep it there to help protect your colleagues from such a business partner, and seek legal action against the firm for the collection issue.)

[Edited at 2011-10-04 15:54 GMT]


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pj-ffm
Local time: 08:54
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Local knowledge would be useful here... Oct 4, 2011

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:

There is one thing I don't understand.
pj-ffm wrote:

Due to a previous non-payment dispute I had submitted a poor LWA rating for her on the Blue Board


Do you mean you had another non-payment issue with her before?
If that is the case, why did you work for her again?

Anyway, in your current situation you should report this person to ProZ staff, because she is in breach of the rules by blackmailing you. Along with the non-payment report (which I assume you submitted, if not, please do so) she may get banned from ProZ and get a nice warning on her BB record. As to getting your money, others already gave good advice, try to find a local collection agency (that is reliable) - perhaps with a couple of large, heavy-set local "friends", who could "pay her a visit".


Katalin


Hi Katalin,

Just to clarify, I worked for two consecutive months exclusively for this agency and I submitted the LWA after non-payment of the first months invoice which was after I had already finished the project. Clearly I'm never going to work for her again!

I reported her tactic (forwarding her email) to the Proz.com staff over a week ago, and sent a follow up mail but no response from their side yet. Also, I don't think it is possible to file a second non-payment report, is it?

I must admit, after having my summer plans messed up for lack of two months money, I probably wouldn't lose too much sleep if a couple of "heavy-set local friends" paid her a visit...


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pj-ffm
Local time: 08:54
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Punctuation issues... Oct 4, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

I hope you take my opinion in a constructive manner: "urgent" and "legal advice" form an oxymoron. You certainly don't want to get "urgent legal advice", but "good legal advice".

Although the colleagues here will do their best to offer some hints, good legal advice must be provided by lawyers, the same way a good translation will be made by a professional translator.

Personally I would go back one step, take a deep breath, and then analyse this in detail with a lawyer. Chances are that, if you don't do that, you will at the very least postpone your collection for a very long time.

(As for the Blueboard entry, I really think you should keep it there to help protect your colleagues from such a business partner, and seek legal action against the firm for the collection issue.)

[Edited at 2011-10-04 15:54 GMT]


I take your point Tomas; I really should have put a colon after the "Urgent".

It's the getting of the "good" legal advice that I need "urgent" help with.
Primarily:
- what sort of lawyer do I need?
- what are the costs involved in suing someone in the New Delhi court system?
- who must carry them and when? This could well decide whether it's even worth trying to get the money.

I have done a lot of Googling and cannot find the information I need.

The purpose of posting here was really to find out if anyone else has had a similar experience (bearing in mind how prevalent Indian translation agencies are these days) and possibly offer some advice on how to go about finding a lawyer, what sort of lawyer? and the suchlike.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:54
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Exclusivity Oct 4, 2011

pj-ffm wrote:
Just to clarify, I worked for two consecutive months exclusively for this agency and I submitted the LWA after non-payment of the first months invoice which was after I had already finished the project. Clearly I'm never going to work for her again!

May I edit your sentence slightly? It should probably read:

Clearly I'm never going to work for one single company a whole month again, no matter how respectable they may appear to be!


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pj-ffm
Local time: 08:54
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Indeed! High volume with one client = high risk Oct 4, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

pj-ffm wrote:
Just to clarify, I worked for two consecutive months exclusively for this agency and I submitted the LWA after non-payment of the first months invoice which was after I had already finished the project. Clearly I'm never going to work for her again!

May I edit your sentence slightly? It should probably read:

Clearly I'm never going to work for one single company a whole month again, no matter how respectable they may appear to be!


That conveys the sentiment rather well!

Unfortunately I fell prey to her argument that she had lots of volume (hence persuading me to reduce my rate as a result... grr...) and I didn't take on any other work for those two months. You live and learn...


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Jenn Mercer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:54
Member (2009)
French to English
Now you know... Oct 4, 2011

It sounds lovely to "be experienced" even through gaining that experience can be painful. I have taken on single projects that lasted as long as five months, but there were intermediate deadlines and I had previously found this client to be one of my best payers.

Although, now that I think of it, my most prolonged collection experience was for a 3 week project with a new client. In this case, we were both in the U.S., but it was still a painful experience. That was not just my first, but my last project with them.


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Armorel Young  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:54
German to English
Two questions Oct 4, 2011

a) Is there anything to stop you removing the BB entry, getting paid, and then re-posting a highly critical BB comment (and, of course, never ever having anything to do with them again)?

b) Proz site staff seem curiously silent on this one. Surely they must take a very serious view of this sort of blackmail?


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