Having drawn from the expertise of the Atradius Collections' local offices, the International Debt Collections Handbook explains the different stages, regulations and procedures for Ireland.
Atradius Collections Ireland’s collectors initially try to collect the debt by a cycle of telephone calls and letters without recourse to legal action. We always try to obtain payment of the debt in full, but if required will negotiate to agree on a payment plan or a settlement figure. In the event that we consider it necessary to escalate beyond amicable collection, we must support this process in Ireland by the issue of a Letter Before Action (LBA), which is the start of the legal process. This is not used in all cases, only those when the collector considers that the debtor has the ability to pay and needs some strong evidence of our intentions. If there is no positive response to the Letter Before Action and we consider it cost effective to do so, we will recommend that we issue proceedings in the local court. This has to be done in Ireland by one of our legal partners, although Atradius will continue to be the point of contact for the client. It is necessary in Ireland for the solicitor to issue an Affidavit of Debt to be completed by the claimant and returned on headed paper. Once proceedings are issued, the court will decide whether to uphold the claim, and in doing so we are able to apply for a judgment against the debtor. This judgment is published in the Stubbs Gazette to make the judgment public for those who wish to view it.
Once judgment has been awarded, the case will pass to the enforcement officer to pursue. It is worth noting that the court process in Ireland, and particularly the enforcement, is not a speedy process and can be costly. We will advise on a case-by-case basis about whether we consider it cost effective to pursue this course of action. Tracing debtors in Ireland can also present problems due to the lack of availability of census-type information. When there is a dispute, we aim to reach an amicable solution between creditor and debtor. We do this by analysing all contractual documents (e.g. signed contracts, orders, confirmations, invoices and delivery notes, as well as standard terms previously agreed upon).
Late Payments in Commercial Transactions Regulations 2012
The purpose of these regulations is to give legal effect to Directive 2011/7/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 on combating late payment in commercial transactions. That directive repeals, with effect from 16 March 2013, an earlier directive from 2000 (Directive 2000/35/EC) on combating late payment in commercial transactions in European Communities.
Applicable interest rate
The regulations, which apply equally to the public and private sectors, provide an entitlement to interest if payment forcommercial transactions is late.
The regulations provide that, unless otherwise specified in an agreed contract, the interest rate will be the European Central Bank main refinancing rate (as at 1 January and 1 July in each year) plus 8%.
The ECB rates in force on 1 January and 1 July apply for the following six months in each year. Only one rate will apply to a late payment – that is the rate in force on the payment date.
The ECB rate can be checked on the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland website at. www.centralbank.ie.
The main provisions of the revised legislation are:
I. Public authorities must pay for the goods and services that they procure within 30 days or, in very exceptional circumstances, within 60 days.
II. Enterprises should pay their invoices within 60 days, unless they expressly agree otherwise and if it is not grossly unfair to the creditor.
III. Enterprises are automatically entitled, without the necessity of a reminder, to interest for late payments plus compensation costs.
IV. The statutory interest rate for late payment is increased.
V. Enterprises can challenge grossly unfair terms and practices.
As well as interest, the supplier may also charge an amount to compensate for the costs of collecting late payments. The amount of compensation that can be claimed is determined
by the amount outstanding as follows:
The Debt Collections Handbook presents a snapshot of Ireland's local economic situation and covers the following topics:
- Accepted and most common payment methods
- Type of companies
- Legal procedures, system and required documents
- Enforcement in debt, movable and immovable goods
- Insolvency Procedures
To read more about steps and procedures undertaken in the field of debt collection: