Debt collection includes the practices used to recover payments from individual clients or other legal entities that have failed to pay for the goods or services offered by a company in Hungary.
There are two possible courses of action for collecting a claim in Hungary, the amicable one and the legal proceedings. In practice, the intention is to settle most debts in an amicable manner, for example by using the services offered by our experts in debt collection in Hungary. Our team can demand the procedure, contact the debtor and negotiate a payment plan that will be satisfactory for both parties. When this is not possible, the creditor may commence the legal procedures against the debtor, first through a default payment summons and then, if the debtor does not respond, through a lawsuit.
When an entity refuses to pay its claims it endangers the status of its creditors which can face the impossibility to pay their suppliers also. That’s why many creditors are trying to avoid this type of situations, by granting longer terms of payment or use the prepayment method (when possible). If there are any uncovered debts, most of the creditors use the help of the debt collection agencies or law firms which can give legal advice on the matter.
In order to recover a debt in Hungary, the creditor can follow a number of steps, depending on the particularities of the case. The ones that can apply in most situations are the following:
- Contact the debtor: this is the first attempt to obtain the overdue payment; can be followed up by a description of the invoice/payment.
- Send a reminder: the second stage is to send a reminder and demand payment after a specific period.
- Intention to initiate court decisions: this is necessary when the debtor has still left the payment overdue after the first amicable reminders.
- Commence the court proceedings: one of our agents can assist creditors when commencing the court proceedings and demanding an order for payment.
- Enforcement: once a court decision is issued, the creditor may enforce the court decision and collect his debt.
The steps presented herein are only a set of general ones and individuals should know that the timeline for a debt collection claim could differ depending on several particularities, out of which we can mention the status of the debtor when the said debtor is another legal entity. For example, the enforcement can be subject to certain limitations when the said legal entity is in insolvency or has been declared bankrupt. This is why we recommend reaching out to one of our debt collection lawyers in Hungary for specific details on how to proceed in a certain case.
The debt collection process in Hungary
The process of debt collection usually starts by checking the nature of the claim and the situation of the indebted. For an entity without possibility to pay the outstanding amounts, different methods must be applied than for the indebted with possibilities to pay. If the claim is real and can be proved with specific documents, such as invoice, proofs that the invoices were delivered or documents signed by the indebted which states that the debt was acknowledged than the process of debt collection may begin.
The whole process starts in an amicable way: the debtor receives a notification regarding the outstanding debt, the procedure of payment, the contact details of the agency, and details regarding the last day when the payment can be made.
Usually, at this point the debtors pay their debts, mostly because after this procedure, the legal procedure can be instituted.
If the amicable procedure doesn’t have the desired result, the legal procedure can be initiated. For this, the following documents are necessary: invoices and statements indicating payments and credit notes used to cover the outstanding monies. Also the copies of the contract are necessary. In fact, every document proving the connection between the parties is necessary and in certain cases, even witnesses who participated at the negotiations between the creditors and debtors. If the debtor is not disputing the decision of payment in maximum 15 days after receiving it, the payment becomes enforceable.
If he doesn’t agree with it, the lawsuit may begin. This usually starts with a written pre-procedure when the plaintiff and the defendant exchange opinions and proofs by letter until the judge believes they have all relevant information needed to make a judgment. A hearing is scheduled and both parties must be present. After that, the judge will publish a final judgment, and the parties are informed about it in writing by the court.
If the parties don’t agree on the decision, they can make an appeal and the case is heard by a second instance. The usual duration of a legal process is between 30 and 120 days if there is no appeal from debtor while the court procedure takes around 1-3 months or depending on the complexity of the case.
The costs of the litigation are usually 3% of the debt and 6% of the lawsuit debt while the judgments issued by the courts of appeal are generally 8% of the debt. The losing party has to carry the costs of the legal procedure.
Arbitration can also be used successfully for the purpose of collecting debts. If the business contract with a partner or client contains an arbitration clause, then the dispute can be resolved via this alternative dispute resolution method. Compared to litigation, arbitration can have lower costs and can be quicker. If both the debtor and the creditor are looking to settle the dispute as fast as possible, then arbitration can be the right solution.
When the creditor has an enforceable court judgment (issued by a Hungarian court or another EU court) or another enforceable instrument, he can then commence the enforcement procedure in order to collect his due money through the seizure of the debtor’s assets. This is a process that is overseen by a bailiff and one of our agents who specialize in debt collection in Hungary can give you more details.
Debt collection services in Hungary
Our team has experience in efficient debt recovery in Hungary and can assist clients during the entire process, in small or medium claims as well as large claims. We start by reviewing the claim and the nature of the debt. We provide complete assistance during the debt recovery process and clients can rely on our experts for the following services:
- determining the recovery rate: finding the debtor and determining the extent to which the debt is recoverable is a step that is recommended in most cases.
- identifying the suitable debt collection method: our specialists will analyze your case in order to determine what debt collection method is optimal and whether or not alternative dispute resolution methods may be used.
- pre-litigation procedures: our team can assist during all of the extrajudicial steps as well as provide negotiation services.
- litigation: with our support, creditors will be able to take their case to court and file for a lawsuit against the debtor.
- the enforcement of claims: we can help oversee the enforcement phase once the enforcement instrument has been issued.
Receiving practical advice from a team of specialists can be invaluable for those who are looking to recover their debts owned by a Hungarian client or company. understanding the applicable laws and the rights that the creditors have, as well as the rights of the debtors and the limitations that may be imposed by law on seizing assets are all important for the purpose of successfully collecting due debts. Our team can help local and foreign clients who are interested in enforcing a court decision in Hungary.
Contact us for more information about debt collection in Hungary as well as the services we provide to clients and how we can assist you in your particular case.