Debt collection agency or lawyer?
Thread poster: Tiina Linnamaa

Tiina Linnamaa  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:22
Member (2003)
English to Finnish
+ ...
Jul 17, 2017

Hi all,

it's the same old story that one unfortunately reads here so often: my client won't pay me for the work I've done. I did a large translation for them in April and delivered it on 3.5. They had no complaints about the translation, quite the opposite, I sent the invoice in, the invoice was accepted and payment promised in 14 days, but no. After several reminders from my side and empty promises from theirs, the invoice, dated 5.5., has still not been paid.

So the question is, how to proceed now? Which would be the best way to deal with this issue from now on: should I use a debt collection agency or get a lawyer to deal with this for me? Anyone with experience about this? I will obviously post this matter on all non-payer lists I subscribe to, but apart from that, what would be the best way to proceed?

I'm resident in Germany and the non-paying agency is Belgian. The invoice sum is several thousand euros, so it's making a big dent in my finances.


Vadim Kadyrov  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:22
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
Debt collection agency has to be the last option. Jul 17, 2017

Some of my steps I took in similar situations

Hope it helps.


Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:22
German to Swedish
+ ...
European payment order Jul 17, 2017

Signals you're serious. If you're an experienced small businessperson, you don't need any legal assistance for the paperwork.


Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:22
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Debt collection agency is better Jul 17, 2017

In my experience, a debt collection agency is better.

On a number of occasions, when people tried not to pay me, I politely sent them a very simple final email that says

"Unless I receive confirmation from my bank, within the next 3 calendar days,that you have paid me in full, further action may follow without notice. You may wish to visit this website (link)" Yours sincerely, etc., etc."

The link takes them to the rather threatening website of a large debt collection agency based in their country. The particular website I use is excellent because it describes, in some detail, the step-by-step process they carry out. The process begins with a polite letter and culminates with large men turning up in a van, and taking away assets.

Thanks to this, I find I've always been paid within 24 hours and have never needed to actually initiate proceedings.

[Edited at 2017-07-17 10:28 GMT]


Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:22
French to English
Hint for next time and for this time Jul 17, 2017

This will not change your current situation, nor will it rule out the risk of bad debt. However, it may simply reduce the amount you fight to receover: on jobs over [whatever limit you are prepared to accept]€, ask for 30% upfront. Serious clients have no problem with this.

For now, make sure you get some official demand for payment in ASAP. If the agency is in difficulty, if they cease trading, a debt affirmed in this way is higher up the rankings than it would be otherwise. However, we all know that if a business is about to close, then once any employees, the taxman and other official state funds have been paid, the suppliers (you) are last on the list. (One of the reasons I don't like clocking up too much work with agencies that pay at 60 days, the risk being that there is 2 months' work on hold for payment. Too risky).

[Edited at 2017-07-17 10:44 GMT]


Tiina Linnamaa  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:22
Member (2003)
English to Finnish
+ ...
Good tips Jul 17, 2017

Thank you all for your replies, they are greatly appreciated. I wasn't aware of the European Payment Order, I think I shall go for that, if the money is not on my account by the end of today (their latest promise).

And Nikki, yes, next time I'll definitely ask for part of the money upfront. I just didn't expect this because they have been prompt payers before.


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