Amicable collections

1.1. General information

We maintain a professional collections process and focus on the relationships between you and your debtors at all times. Our team of collections specialists carry out the collections process in-house. We contact debtors both verbally and in writing whilst adhering to applicable laws.

When there is a case of dispute, we may call on our experienced team of Dutch legal collectors, each of whom has a master’s degree in law, to help us. They mainly play a consultative role but may take over the case if the dispute is related to legal aspects.

In the event that mediation by the legal collectors might not lead to an agreement and legal proceedings are indicated, the file will always be dealt with by our Dutch legal team.

1.2. Local agents

We do not offer field service to visit debtors through local agents. But depending on the case, it will always be possible that our (legal) collectors visit the debtors. If the debtors wish to visit our premises, we will gladly arrange face-to-face meetings to discuss the situations.

We can provide you with a high-quality professional network of experienced lawyers and/or law firms (LDCs) in the Netherlands at very competitive rates. Our LDC network covers the whole Dutch territory, and the LDCs are able to carry out legal action in all the District Courts.

We can also offer a high-quality network of professional and experienced bailiffs, who are appointed by law to carry out enforcement of verdicts or judgments.

1.3. Interest

We always charge debtors with interest calculated at 12% per annum on a daily basis. This percentage is higher than the one embodied in the European Directive concerning legal business interest. But it’s in accordance with the clauses in the majority of purchase conditions or other business conditions. Interest will always be claimed in both the amicable phase and judicial phase.

In the Netherlands, it’s common practice to receive interest on overdue invoices, and there are rarely any discussions regarding the liability of the debtors when paying interest. In court, interest payments are considered a justified demand in relation to the overdue accounts.

If you are able to prove that the business or purchase conditions are applicable, the interest can be charged at 12% per annum. In the event that no specific conditions were agreed on, it’s possible to request interest according to the European Directive and the so-called legal business interest rate in the Netherlands. The latter is variable.

1.4. Debt collections costs

In the amicable phase, we are able to collect your invoices and interest to a certain extent with collections costs. The debtor is charged an extra 15% in collections costs on the principal amount, and we are fully focused on collecting costs within the bounds of law and jurisprudence.

From a legal point of view, collections costs can only be recovered from the debtor on a scale related to the principal amount that has been entrusted for collections. If we’re successful in collecting the principal amount, it’s possible to recover a certain amount of the collections costs from the debtor through legal proceedings.

The court uses a tariff table related to legal proceedings in order to identify what amount of collections costs can be recovered from the debtor. It’s a complicated issue in jurisprudence, and there is usually only a small amount granted, despite existing clauses in written agreements and/or purchase conditions. In fact, the judge is free to condemn the debtor to pay the collections costs as long as they are considered reasonable, but the granted costs are normally part of the provision agreed with you.

In 2012, a bill was passed that sets out the levels of collections costs to be paid by private persons or consumer debtors who are in default. These specific legal collections costs are more or less aligned with the jurisprudence. It should be noted that legal collections costs also apply to the business-to-business segment as long as the parties do not agree otherwise.

Since legal proceedings concerning collections costs are time-consuming and costly for both you and your debtors, we are quite successful in reaching agreements with the debtors with respect to the collections costs.

1.5. Prescription

Dutch law has several terms for the prescription of debts, the most common of which relates to commercial (business) claims (e.g. purchasing, rendering services, contracting). For these transactions, the general prescriptive term is five years and is calculated from the due dates of the invoices.

Prescription can be opposed by registered mail and/or written announcement through a bailiff, with the effect that a new term of five years will commence. It must be noted that you have to prove that the debtor receives the announcement.

Exceptions are possible; for example, in the transportation sector, shorter terms of prescription of debts are used, according to the Convention on the contract for the international carriage of goods by road (CMR) Treaty.

1.6. Accepted and most common payment methods

The most common payment method is bank transfers. In international cases, we also accept cheque payments.

1.7. Types of companies

Like most other countries, the Netherlands has two major groups of companies. The first group consists of so-called person companies:

Company with a sole owner (“eenmanszaak”)

  • The owner is fully liable for the company’s debts, also with their private assets

Company with several natural persons or partners involved

(“vennootschap onder firma”, or VOF)

  • The partners are fully liable with their business funds and private assets

Company with a managing partner and a silent partner

(“commanditaire vennootschap”, or CV)

  • The managing partner is fully liable with their business funds and private assets
  • The silent partner is only liable with the company’s capital

Company as a professional partnership

  • The partners are natural persons practising professions (e.g. lawyers, doctors, architects)
  • The partners are together fully liable for the company’s total debts with their private funds or assets

The second group includes limited companies, or a legal person, or a legal entity, of which the most common are:

  • “Besloten vennootschap”, or B.V.
  • “Naamloze vennootschap”, or N.V.

For these companies, the (managing) directors are not liable with their private assets, unless there is documented proof of mismanagement.

1.8. Sources of information

We work in close cooperation with experienced information agencies and a network of bailiffs to evaluate debtors’ solvency. Using online checks with public registers, we can gather information about debtors’ financial situations, including any officially booked goods, estates, and other assets.

Additional information can be obtained on shareholders, historical (financial) developments, and balance sheets.

We can decide on a case-by-case basis whether to hire private investigators.

Investigating your debtor’s financial situation is useful for determining which legal action might lead to results in the end.

(End of chapter 1 - Amicable collections)

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