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Debt Collection

New International Debt Collections Handbook Advises UK Businesses on Debt Recovery in Foreign Countries

By CreditMan Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Atradius Collections, the global expert in domestic and international debt collections, releases the latest edition of the International Debt Collections Handbook. The International Debt Collections Handbook is an essential tool for export-oriented UK businesses making decisions around debt recovery in foreign countries. In total the handbook covers 26 countries and covers the different stages of amicable settlement, financial regulations around collections, legal proceedings and insolvency procedures.

Many of UK's businesses engage in export. Therefore, businesses need to be aware of essential differences in amicable settlement, financial regulations around collections, legal proceedings and insolvency procedures in these countries. "Having access to country-specific information can significantly change decisions. In the United States debt collectors are required to engage in amicable negotiations before trial whereas in Germany cases are quickly taken to court. Just the example of these two countries shows that the process is entirely different," says Rudi de Greve, Executive Manager Operations from Atradius Collections. "As the US and Germany are the two main export countries for the UK, you can see these two countries alone have very unique rules and processes that every business should be fully aware of."

Looking at the UK's most important trade partner, the United States, significant differences can also be found in how debt collections are handled. Familiarity with the US law is required when attempting to recover debt. United States law clearly distinguishes between an amicable phase and a legal phase. Unlike in many other countries, attorneys are required to make amicable efforts before filing a lawsuit. Normally collectors will limit their amicable efforts from 7 to 30 days. Once a lawsuit is filed, only the amount due can be pursued unless there is an agreement with the debtor stating otherwise. Filing a case can cost a lot of time in the United States.

Depending on the court backlog, it can take from 6 months to 5 years to obtain a trial date, as oldest cases are tried before newer cases. Through the court and local sheriff or bailiff, a creditor can seize and sell property. Bankruptcies are controlled by federal law, which prevents any collection effort or litigation from proceeding, as long as the bankruptcy is still pending.

Germany is the UK's second largest trade partner. Unlike commonly expected, German debtors are used to paying late payment interests. Rates and the interest payment is often negotiated. Civil legal procedures can take from 6 to 12 months until a final verdict is reached. Responsible courts also differ. In the case of a non-German company seeking payment from a German debtor, the case must be filed at a dedicated court located in Berlin, whereas German/German cases are handled in various local courts throughout the country. Once a judgement is achieved, the enforcement is exclusively started by bailiffs and requires the involvement of a judge who initiates seizing of assets. An insolvency process in Germany is a collective approach for all creditors trying to obtain payment from a particular debtor. The aim is to pay each creditor an equal amount after business liquidation. Debt collection costs that arise during the process are fully charged to the debtor.

The full details around the United States and Germany, as well as other major export partner nations, can be found in the International Debt Collections Handbook, issued by Atradius Collections. It can be immediately downloaded at

About Atradius Collections:
Atradius Collections, a business unit of Atradius Group, provides efficient, quick and flexible solution to recover domestic and international trade debts. With a global network of collections specialists, lawyers and insolvency practitioners worldwide, Atradius Collections serve over 14,000 customers handling on average 100,000 cases a year. Over 80 years of worldwide credit management industry experience uniquely position Atradius Collections as a global leader in business-to-business debt collections.

Source: Atradius N.V.