Chasing cross-border debts, we retrieved £48,000

While the British government is still trying to sort out Brexit, we’ve been powering ahead and forging some new international alliances of our own.

In the last few weeks, we’ve done business for clients with debtors in Portugal, the US and Italy, retrieving sums of up to £48,000 in one of these cross-border cases.

Chasing unpaid invoices is always time-consuming for a company but when you factor in the added complications of dealing with foreign legal systems and banking facilities and then potentially having to navigate a different set of rules and conventions about debt collection, it can seem overwhelmingly complicated.

But if a company has done the work, they should be paid for it – just as in the UK.

The government has some advice on recovering debt from other EU countries. If the company admits owing you the money, you can instigate a European Payment Order – a straightforward procedure for dealing with cross-border claims for money. To launch the process, you fill in a form listing the details of all parties and how much money is involved.

If they deny owing you the money and the amount is under 5,000 Euros, the European Small Claims procedure applies, though for larger sums, it often means going to national courts.

In the case of our Italian job, no court action was necessary: we did everything for our client by email, letter and negotiation on the phone.

It was a similar situation with the US case where we collected $39,000 through negotiation. One tip there though: watch out for bank transfer fees as these can be a problem, even if you have a dollar account.

For example, the sender might convert the amount they owe you from dollars to Sterling and then convert it back to dollars for your dollar account, so you’ll attract bank charges for both transactions. It’s very important, therefore, to give precise bank account details to the sender to avoid such mistakes.

(If you only have a Sterling account over here, you will have to stand the Bank charges anyway.)

Anyway, it’s good to be spreading our wings overseas and recouping some large sums for our clients. We’re already starting to think we could teach those Brexit negotiators a thing or two about deal-making . . .