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Debt Collection Services in France

Debt collection in France is the process of claiming undue payments for services or products offered to clients. As a services provider, you can also be entitled to claim penalties for late payments. Regardless of your type of business, this is a situation that you might encounter in France and it is advisable to seek professional help in order to solve any bad payments issues.

Debt recovery in France consists of two stages: amicable recovery and/or legal procedures. When any negotiation with the debtor has failed, creditors who want to recover any outstanding liabilities are advised to use the help of a debt collection agency in France. Our French lawyers can represent you throughout the debt recovery procedure. In case you need to recover a debt in other countries, for example in Montenegro, we can put you in contact with our partners, who have extensive experience in debt recovery cases.

With a vast experience in debt collection matters, our French lawyers can offer the necessary assistance to those in need of such services. 

Who can handle the debt collection procedure in France?

Most of the times, the debt collection process, be it amicable or legal, can be handled by debt collection lawyers in France, by debt collection agencies, by bailiffs or other professionals who open companies dealing with such activities. However, most of the times, debt collection agencies and French law firms will handle the debt collection procedures.Before the procedure is begun, there are a few mandatory steps which will be completed. These are:

  • the debt collection agency or the lawyer will first analyze the case with the claimant;
  • all the evidence consisting of documents indicating the lack of payment of the debt will be provided to the agency or lawyer;
  • an initial dunning letter will be sent to the debtor through which the debt is brought to their attention;
  • the debtor can also be contacted by email or other means of communication in the attempt of reaching an agreement.

Our law firm in France can handle the debt collection procedure from the early stages when the debt is registered and up to court proceedings.

What types of debts can be recovered in France?

The Civil Code through the Contract Law provides for various types of debts which can be recovered in France. Among these are:

  1. debts resulted from failing to pay outstanding amounts of money coming from bills issued by public utility providers;
  2. debt resulted from not respecting contractual terms in the case of French companies and clients;
  3. various types of commercial claims can also lead to debt collection proceedings in France;
  4. foreign debt collection cases can also be tried in French courts if at least one of the parties is a French resident.

It is important to know that in the case of foreigners asking for debt collection in France, a request must be filed with one of the French courts. The amicable procedure can also be used in debt recovery cases involving foreign citizens or companies.
Our attorneys in France can guide foreigners who want to recover debts from French citizens or companies.

Amicable debt collection in France

In case of any dispute, the first solution to be considered is the amicable recovery. In this initial stage, the creditor and the debtor try to reach an amicable solution for solving the problem and avoid the legal procedures. The debtor is contacted and informed about his or her financial situation. The debt collection lawyers in France will draft and send the notification letter and state the amounts that need to be paid. At the same time, the payment notification will also make it clear that the creditor intends to initiate legal action, if necessary.

In order to reach an agreement, all the documents signed between the debtor and the creditors are analyzed: contracts, orders, invoices, confirmations, delivery notes, etc. If possible, the debtor may be granted a longer period of time in order to pay his/her liability. The exact time-frame for the due payments can be negotiated between the creditor and the debtor once they settle upon solving the problem amicably. 

Legal procedures for debt collection in France

If the amicable recovery procedure fails, the remaining available method for debt collection in France is the court recovery procedure. A letter is usually sent to the debtor, informing him/her that a decision has been made to start the necessary legal proceedings. The creditor can then apply for an injunctive order, a procedure regulated by the French Civil Code. A letter is usually sent to the debtor, informing him/her that a decision has been made to start the necessary legal proceedings.

The French Commercial Court deals with legal disputes between traders or businesses and any requests to initiate an injunctive order are sent to this court. Some of the documents required to initiate the legal proceedings are copies of the contract between the parties, invoices, and statements of the account indicating payments. The relationship between the debtor and the creditor should be fully provable. If the French judge decides that the evidence is satisfactory, he or she can issue an injunctive order which obliges the debtor to pay. The debtor can contest this decision within one month.

Easier cases can take between eight to ten months. This time-frame may be doubled or it may extend to a couple of years.

The enforcement of a judicial decision in France includes two types of goods: movable and immovable goods. Any movable goods will be taken from the debtor for the purpose of liquidation. However, goods deemed necessary for daily life cannot be seized. Immovable goods include real estate in France, although these types of goods are not very common for companies in France.

What is the mission of the French lawyers?

Business owners in France will generally adopt a softer and non-aggressive litigation method. This is why most debtors will usually agree upon a settlement with the debtor. However, if the claim is disputed by the debtor, the creditor will have greater chances of claiming his or her debts if requesting the services of a law firm in France.

Our debt collection lawyers in France can help you with all of the legal proceedings for debt collection in France. We can provide complete information about the French legal system and offer you various legal services. If you need legal services in other European countries, such as Spain, or accounting services in Romania, you can send us your request.

The enforcement of a debt collection order in France

The enforcement of a debt collection order will not occur immediately after the judge has issued it. The plaintiff must first wait for the order to be delivered to the defendant. Then, the defendant will have the right to file an appeal against it.

The only exception to the enforcement of a debt recovery order in the usual way is if the case was tried under summary proceedings. In this case, the enforcement of the order can take place, while the defendant can still appeal it.

There is also the case of foreign enforcement orders for debt recovery in France or the recognition of EU Court Decisions, which can be completed without special procedures. France has signed various treaties in this sense and thus such orders can be enforced based on those agreements. In case no treaty applies, the enforcement will be completed based on the regulations of the French Civil Code and of the Civil Procedure Code.

You can obtain more information on how foreign judgments can be enforced in France from our lawyers.

What are the assets to be seized in case of debt collection?

When it comes to the assets that can be seized in debt collection in France, these can take the form of movable and immovable assets or other amounts of money. It is important to note that the assets that can be seized must first be verified before the judgment for them to be seized is issued.
Our French lawyers can offer more information on how to check the financial situation of a debtor with the scope of recovering an outstanding amount of money. At the same time, it must be noted that the seizure of assets is different for natural persons and companies in France.

FAQ on debt collection in France?

1. Can I handle the debt collection procedure myself, even if I am not an agency?You can start the debt recovery procedure on your own, however, this is available only for the amicable procedure.

2. At what stage of the debt collection process do I need a lawyer?You can ask for help from a French law firm or debt collection lawyer in France anytime during the procedure.

3. How long does a debt recovery procedure take in France?It depends on the case, but it can take from a few months and up to 2 years.

4. Are court debt collection procedures expensive in France? What about the lawyer’s fee?No, the debt collection procedure is not expensive when it comes to court procedures. The lawyer’s fees can be calculated at an hourly rate or a fixed rate.

Contact us for more information about debt collection in France as well as personalized assistance.