Debt collection in Brazil?
Thread poster: Nadim Bayeh

Nadim Bayeh  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:20
French to English
+ ...
Dec 4, 2010

Hello all,

I am a freelance translator living in Lebanon.

I have been working with a Sao Paulo-based Brazilian translation agency. They were chronic late payers, and have several negative feedbacks here and on other sites, but not they are refusing to pay me. They owe me about $2,000. I have documents (purchase orders, invoices, EML correspondance files) to prove it.

I'm exploring my legal options, and I'm wondering what you would advise. Small Claims Court? Brazilian Lawyer? Brazilian/international debt collector?

Thanks for your replies!


José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:20
English to Portuguese
+ ...
You made your choice Dec 4, 2010

Nadim Bayeh wrote:
... a Sao Paulo-based Brazilian translation agency. They were chronic late payers, and have several negative feedbacks here and on other sites, but not they are refusing to pay me.

Translation is all about mutual trust. It's not like one party putting cash on the counter and the other putting some merchandise of known quality there, and both changing hands. In translation, the client trusts the vendor to deliver what they need, in the way they need it, and by the time it's needed. The translator trusts the client to pay them as agreed, when agreed, and in the way that was agreed.

If you delivered your goods to someone you knew that couldn't be trusted to do their part, you took a risk. And in this case the odds were against you. You lost the bet. Bite the bullet, learn from your experience, and live on.

The amount would fit the Small Claims Court in Brazil, for sure. You can file a lawsuit there in person, without using a lawyer. However you are far away. So you have basically two options:
  • Fly to Brazil and do it. Your air ticket should roughly cost what they owe you. If not that much, your travel expenses will cover and largely surpass the balance, as such a process will take months, more likely years. You'll need certified translations of all the evidence you have the statutory rates around USD 10-12¢/word. Also, if you don't speak Portuguese fluently, you'll need a certified public translator with you at the hearing at some USD 60/hour.
  • Hire a Brazilian lawyer. This will still require certified translation of all your evidence. Second, any decent lawyer will demand a retainer roughly equivalent to the total sum they owe you. A cheaper lawyer - if you can find one - most likely will not be much cheaper, but will lose the case.

The least expensive option for you is to publish it on the Blue Board and alikes, though if they already have such a bad reputation, they won't mind the least. You made a bet... and lost! It's sad, but true.


Wolf Kux  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:20
Member (2006)
German to Portuguese
+ ...
next time ... Dec 4, 2010

Nadim Bayeh, I'll suggest you doing the following:

accept a new service from this "nice" agency. Yes, accept it, but ask for pre-payment. You can say that for now lebanese laws only permit acceptance of foreign work if paid in advance, or alike.

After you confirm that money is in, tell them "Thanks for paying your debts. This last service would only be done if paid twice. If you do not agree, look for another one."

If they not agree, there may always another, let's say, "informal" solution.

Try to find out if you have a friend living in Brazil. (There are more lebanese people in Brazil than in Lebanon!). Such a friend may ask gently (I said gently!) at the address of this agency to get paid by.

Not honest people feel very quickly if they receive gentle pressure.


Local time: 14:20
French to English
+ ...
another option (and perhaps the most effective one) Dec 4, 2010

Hire a collector (empresa de cobrança):

"Ao contratar um serviço de cobrança, é possível optar por uma cobrança pontual ou fechar um contrato do gerenciamento de toda a carteira de recebíveis vencidos. Naturalmente, há vantagens nos custos de cobranças e procura-se prezar o bom relacionamento com seus clientes, os quais precisam contar com um atendimento altamente qualificado.

A remuneração das empresas de cobrança normalmente é baseada em success fee, ou seja, a empresa pagará somente um percentual sobre o montante recuperado – previamente definido em contrato entre as partes – e receberá constantemente um diagnóstico detalhado do processo. Determinadas empresas de cobrança disponibilizam consultas através de um sistema on line."

There are plenty of such companies in Brazil, unfortunately I have no experience using any. I would recommend you get a personal recommendation for one to help you choose wisely.


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Debt collection in Brazil?

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