Helpful advice when asserting a claim

The following advice may help you in successfully asserting a claim for payment:

[Image]  Preventive actions
[Image]  Terms and deadlines
  Dunning charges and default interest


Preventive actions
To avoid a customer’s default of payment the following points should be kept in mind:
  • Allow a discount: 2–3 % for the settlement of the bill within 8 – 10 days

  • If customers are in default of payment, call the customer directly. Written reminders are often thrown away carelessly whereas a personal reminder by phone is more effective

  • Ask your customer why he or she is unable to pay. If the customer states that payment problems are only temporarily, you can agree upon payment by instalments. In this case, send a written payment agreement to the debtor which only becomes valid upon the debtor’s signature and return of the agreement within a time limit set by you (e.g. 3 days). Do not react to empty  promises and excuses made by the customer (e.g. “your bill will be the next one I pay”)

  • Ask for prepayments when the customer is known to be unwilling to pay or insolvent

  •  Customized reminder notices and dunning letters are often more successful than simple standard correspondence

  • Use debtor databases which list insolvent debtors or debtors who are unwilling to pay
    [Image]  E.g.: Solvency-Supercheck

back to the top

Terms and deadlines  
The following deadlines are usually used in reminder notices and dunning letters:
  •  Reminder notice: ten to fourteen days after maturity of bill

  • 1st reminder: five to ten days after dispatch of reminder notice  

  • 2nd reminder: five to ten days after dispatch of first reminder

  • 3rd reminder: best dispatched using certified mail (without return receipt), combined with threat of taking legal action (court order, collection agency), five to eight days following dispatch of second reminder

In a strict legal sense, it is not necessary to send more than one reminder following the expiration of the payment deadline. Please ensure that the debtor received the first reminder if you wish to omit sending a second or third reminder. This is possible by delivering the reminder in person, or delivery in person through a third party, a confirmation of the bill by the debtor or by using certified mail delivery. Otherwise it is possible that the defaulting customer claims that he or she never received the reminder (e.g. “it was lost in the mail”)

Always include a specific payment due date in your invoices (e.g. ”Payable by June 14, 2005 at the latest”). By doing this, the customer automatically is in default of payment starting June 15th.

If there is no date specifically provided on the invoice (e.g. "Payable within 14 days”) it is necessary to request payment using a reminder in order to ensure that the customer is in default of payment. Also include a concrete payment deadline on your dunning letters.

back to the top

Dunning charges and default interest

You are not permitted to charge for your first reminder note and first dunning letter. It is only possible to charge for the second reminder onwards and charges may not be more than € 2.50 per reminder.

Default interest in the case of default of payment can be negotiated (without limits) at the conclusion of a contract and can be agreed by contract.

  • In dealings between businesses, default interest of 5-8% over the prime rate is common

  • If one or both of the traders is a private person, the default interest should not be more than 5% over the prime rate.

If you wish to claim higher default interests with court orders, you must provide evidence that you were (because of the debtor’s outstanding payment ) unable to take out a loan during the default of payment, and this is why interest must set higher.

[Image]  Information on maturity and default
Law on default of payment (valid starting May 1, 2000)

All information is presented to the best of our knowledge. We assume no responsibility for its correctness.

back to the top