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How to recover an unpaid invoice

 It is common practice to issue an invoice with a deferred payment date. However, clients sometimes fail to fulfill contracts and it happens that they don’t pay on time for the service provided. In this article, we explain what you can do if your client hasn’t paid for the overdue invoice.

 You should start with contacting your client by phone or e-mail and remind him of the overdue payment. It is always worth trying to communicate with the debtor at the beginning. Perhaps the client just forgot about the invoice and had no bad intentions at all. However, if the debtor avoids contact with you or refuses to pay, send a call for payment by registered letter and keep a postage receipt for evidence purposes. The content of a call for payment may be very simple, it’s enough to include the most important information: the requested amount with interest, invoice number, bank account number, payment date and a warning that failure to pay by the prescribed date will result in bringing a claim to court. Remember that in addition to the invoice amount, you can also claim late payment interest. In a call for payment, you must indicate what interest you want - contractual for delay, statutory for delay or statutory interest for delay in commercial transactions. Interest for delay may be claimed from the day following the payment date indicated on the invoice.

Why send a request for payment? In addition to reminding the debtor of an unpaid invoice, it’s a document that you can submit in court as proof that you have tried to communicate with the debtor. An obligatory element of a lawsuit is to provide information whether the parties have attempted mediation or other out-of-court resolution of the dispute, and in the event that such attempts haven’t been made, an explanation of the reasons for not taking them. The courts commonly assume that a call for payment is an attempt at an amicable settlement of the dispute. If a call for payment doesn’t mobilize the debtor to pay the arrears then of course you should go to court.

How to go to court? First of all, you should write a lawsuit describing the whole case in detail. Your claims must be supported by the evidence you attach to the lawsuit. The evidence may be, for example: an agreement concluded with the debtor, an invoice, evidence of the service, e-mail correspondence with the client, as well as a call for payment with a postage receipt. The lawsuit can be filed directly in court or sent by registered mail. In cases where the value of the subject of the dispute exceeds 75 000 PLN, the relevant court will be the regional court. The district court is competent in cases below this amount. The locally competent court is the court with jurisdiction over the seat of the defendant legal person (for example a company) or the domicile of the defendant natural person. An action for a property claim against the entrepreneur may also be brought before the court in whose district the branch is located, if the claim is related to the operation of that branch.

A fee is charged for filing a lawsuit, the amount depends on the value of the subject of the dispute: up to 500 PLN - fee in the amount of 30 PLN; over 500 PLN to 1 500 PLN - a fee of 100 PLN; over 1 500 PLN to 4 000 PLN - fee in the amount of 200 PLN; over 4 000 PLN to 7 500 PLN - fee in the amount of 400 PLN; over 7 500 PLN to 10 000 PLN - fee in the amount of 500 PLN; over 10 000 PLN to 15 000 PLN - fee in the amount of 750 PLN; over 15 000 to 20 000 PLN - fee in the amount of 1000 PLN. If the value of the subject of the dispute or the value of the subject of appeal exceeds 20 000 PLN, a relative fee of 5% of this value is collected, but not more than 200 000 PLN. If you file a lawsuit in proceedings by writ of payment (which is possible only in special cases, when your request results from an official document, a notarial deed, a statement accepted by the debtor, a declaration of the debtor's recognition of a debt, promissory note or check), you only need to pay 1/4 of the fee.

The statement of claim should be accompanied by a copy of it (or several copies, if there are several defendants) together with copies of all attachments. After filing the lawsuit, you need to be patient, because it takes a long time to hear the case and issue the judgment. We cannot say in advance how long you will have to wait for your case, as it depends on many factors: the specific court, the number of cases in a given court and the complexity of the case.

It is also possible to file a lawsuit in electronic writ proceedings via e-court. For this purpose, you must have an electronic signature or a trusted ePUAP profile, because the lawsuit should be electronically signed. At the beginning, you should create an account on the e-court website (https://www.e-sad.gov.pl) and create the content of the lawsuit in the system. Only claims that have become due within 3 years before the date of filing the lawsuit may be pursued under this procedure. It is worth emphasizing that the e-court deals with cases that are uncomplicated in terms of evidence, such as an unpaid invoice, therefore the waiting time for the consideration of the case is shorter than in the case of filing a paper lawsuit. The advantage is also the lower cost of filing a statement of claim, because in electronic writ proceedings, e-court only charges 1/4 of the fee. Evidences aren’t attached to the lawsuit, but only a list is drawn up and its content is described. The e-court issues a writ of payment, which is served on the defendant. From the moment of service of a writ of payment, the defendant has 2 weeks to pay the arrears or to appeal against the writ of payment. What if the defendant ignores a writ of payment, i.e. neither appeals nor pays? In such a case, a writ of payment must be issued with an enforcement clause to become a document authorizing enforcement. The e-court shall issue the enforcement clause ex officio after the defendant fails to submit an appeal. Then you can submit an enforcement application to the bailiff, also in electronic form, there is an appropriate form on the e-court's website. After receiving such an application, the bailiff starts the procedure of seizing the bank account (or other property of the debtor), collecting the arrears and transferring the funds to the creditor.

We hope you found our article helpful. If you have any questions, please contact us: info@consultinvest.pl