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Sooner or later you’ll come across it, whether you are an artisan, business owner, or have simply dealt with a sales or purchase through a private contract. Nothing quite prepares you for the frustration and ripple effect on your finances of the individual that can’t (or won’t) pay you the money owed. Here’s a brief guideline of how to deal with this situation.

Assuming that the debt is a civil debt, i.e. not a debt owed by a commercial entity, you can apply for an “injonction de payer” to the first instance tribunal, a tribunal competent to hear of debt recovery claim under €10.000.

The procedure does not call for a lawyer. To start the process, you apply to the first instance court, i.e greffe du tribunal d’instance, nearest to the domicile of your debtor.

The claim is made either on a prepared form, (Formulaire Cerfa n°12948*01) or alternatively on plain paper, listing:

• All your details: name, address, occupation, date and place of birth, and nationality
• Details as to the debtor: name, address
• Detailed description of the claim e.g debt recovery for services rendered, goods supplied
• Amount of the money claimed with a schedule, if appropriate, of money owed
• In support of your claim you must produce invoices, estimates, orders, letters, etc.

Please note that all this information is important and necessary, otherwise the application will be invalid and will not be processed.

The judge will consider the application and issue an injunction to pay order, which you must have notified by a bailiff within 6 months. This is required to ascertain that the debtor is aware of the order, and the date of service.

If within one month from the date of notification, the debtor has not responded, you can apply to the tribunal and obtain that the decision be made enforceable against the debtor.

The court cost are under €50 paid when the order is issued, with what is called fiscal stamps. The bailiffs’ costs are recoverable against the debtor. The debtor can challenge the order and apply to the tribunal to notify his decision to oppose the order.In this instance the judge will hear both parties in a mediation type meeting, with a view to obtaining either an agreement for settlement or, if this fails, he will issue a judgment.

•With thanks to Agnes Crompton-Roberts

Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice

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