If a debtor fails to pay the outstanding invoice following a demand for payment, the creditor can instruct a collection lawyer to initiate legal collection proceedings. These may take the form of an ordinary lawsuit (so-called proceedings on the merits) or interlocutory collection proceedings before the judge hearing the application for interim relief at the court. Interlocutory collection proceedings are a quick and relatively easy way to have a claim confirmed by the judge, after which the claim can be collected.
At various courts, including the court in Amsterdam, separate arrangements have been established for collection procedures. In courts with such arrangements, the collection cases are dealt with at the same time every week. At the Amsterdam court, the hearing takes place every Tuesday morning at 10:00. The entire procedure generally takes only a few weeks.
The interlocutory collection proceedings are suitable for claims which are not disputed, which cannot reasonably be disputed or for which it is not expected that the counterparty will appear at the hearing. The case must therefore not be too complex: the claim must be easy to substantiate. For the collection of a claim in interlocutory collection proceedings, there are a number of supplementary requirements, which collection lawyers need to take into account. For example, before a summons can be issued the debtor must first be ordered to pay the claim by registered letter or bailiff’s notice. The demand for payment must include a draft summons showing the date and time of the hearing.
The manner in which the case is handled at the hearing depends on whether the counterparty attends. In practice, debtors frequently do not appear at hearings. In this event, the judge hearing the application for interim relief will make a so-called ruling in absentia, provided no mistakes have been made in drawing up and issuing the summons (and all the formal requirements have therefore been met) and he/she considers the claim to be well-founded. The case will not be examined in detail. If the debtor does not appear at the hearing, the claim will be upheld in most cases. If the debtor does appear at the hearing, the judge hearing the application for interim relief can refer the case to a hearing on another date in order to examine the details of the case. The debtor can then argue a defence against the claim on the new date. If the counterparty appears, it is also possible that an out-of-court settlement or payment arrangement will be agreed. If this takes place before the hearing begins, no court fees are due.
Our collection lawyers have years of experience in advising and taking legal action in the field of collection. The lawyers from AMS specialize in setting up tailored collection pathways. Among other things, the choice of the best route to take depends on the amount of the claim, the type of debtor and the client’s wishes. The collection lawyers at AMS are closely involved in their clients’ cases, work with short lines of communication and offer competitive rates. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.