Debt Collection

Debt Collection

How We Can Help You

If you have a debt to collect, our expertise and experience can help you advising on the legal procedure that is most efficient in maximising your time and results. We start with a full evaluation of your case and we discuss the possible options with you which we act as soon as you are ready to proceed.

We work with both individuals and businesses and are looking forward to hearing from you. Contact us to discuss your case.

Time Limits

If you have a debt to collect in Italy, it is advisable to act as soon as possible because your claim is subject to a time limit, which is strictly related to the kind of credit. 

Pursuant to the Italian law the general time limit is of 10 years, however, in the following cases it could be shorter:

  • 5 years: perpetual and/or life annuities, alimony, rents, end of employment allowances, rights deriving from business relations (if the society is registered), 
  • 3 years: professional fees and refund of the related expenses, wages for employment longer than a month.
  • 2 years: vehicles compensation claims, rights deriving from insurance contracts, light, water or gas bills.
  • 1 year: wages for employment shorter than a month, merchants for the cost of sold things, pharmacists for the cost of medicines.
  • 6 months: entitlement for housing and hosts for accommodation and meals.

This limited period could be interrupted if you send to the debtor a legal deed to file a lawsuit or any deed that would constitute a default for the debtor or if the debtors recognize their obligation.

From the day of the interruption, a new term, as long as the law states for each kind, restarts.  

Let us know if you have any questions regarding your kind of debt and your right to proceed for its collection and we will advise on the best way to proceed.

Extrajudicial (Out-of-Court) Debt Collection

The debt collection procedure can start with an extrajudicial attempt, whose aim is both to persuade your debtor to pay and to avoid any judicial action.


Formal Notice and Invitation to Perform

In order to achieve the best results will have to review any relevant information and document (i.e. contracts, agreements, unpaid invoices) proving your credit.

On the basis of the information provided, we will formally send a notice (“messa in more”) to your debtor via registered letter (raccomandata A/R) or PEC (registered email) along with an invitation to perform (“diffida ad adempiere”). 

This means that we will ask your debtor to pay at least within 15 days, unless a different agreement between the parties, or a shorter term provided by the nature of the contract or the custom, with the warning that, otherwise, it will be necessary to take legal actions to collect the debt. Be aware that both the notice to perform and the invitation to perform play an important role with regards to the legal term determining its interruption and restarting.

Once received the notice, your debtor might:

  • in the best-case scenario, pay the debt;
  • start a negotiation, most of the time with the assistance of a lawyer, to find an agreement;
  • deny or ignore your claim.

The formal notice and the invitation to perform could be sent directly by you.

If it not possible to settle the dispute in this phase, there are different ways to follow, in order to find an agreement out of court, for the collection of your debt.


Assisted Negotiation

An assisted negotiation is a proceeding that allows you, with the help of a lawyer, to find an agreement with the debtor to cooperate to extrajudicially solve a controversy.

This agreement constitutes an executive title that can be used to proceed with enforcement procedures.

It is both the creditor’s and the debtor’s right to always ask to start an assisted negotiation. In any case, you should know that:

  • your lawyer can directly ask your debtor to start an assisted negotiation with the formal notice and the debtor has to reply within 30 days;
  • in any case, if you want to proceed with legal action, the assisted negotiation (or, alternatively, mediation has to be preliminary attempted). 

An assisted negotiation can be started for any controversy on negotiable rights, instead of a judicial proceeding. In the presence of car accident claims or credits equal or lower to € 50.000, the assisted negotiation is mandatory unless the law specifies that the extrajudicial attempt has to be a mediation

Once the assisted negotiation is started, these are the possible scenarios:

  • your debtor does not reply within 30 days, the negotiation fails and you can proceed judicially;
  • your debtor reply but it is not possible to reach an agreement, determining a failure of the assisted negotiation, so you can proceed judicially;
  • we find an agreement with your debtor. If they pay, we have solved the case and if they do not respect the agreement, we can proceed executively, without a legal action in court. 

Mediation

A mediation (“mediazione”) is an alternative dispute resolution that you can follow with your lawyer on controversies of negotiable rights conducted by a mediator (“mediatore”), a third and impartial party. 

Mediation can be voluntary, mandatory or recommended

  • Voluntary: if the parties, jointly or not, decide to start a mediation;
  • Mandatory: in cases predetermined by the law (i.e. condominium, property interests (“diritti reali”), inheritances, business inheritance agreements (“patti di famiglia”), leases, business unit lease (“affitto di azienda”), vehicles and boat claims, medical malpractice claims, defamation through the press, and insurance, bank or financial contracts), without the mediation attempt it is not possible to start a legal action;
  • Recommended: in family law matters.

If you have to proceed with the mediation, or we value that it could be helpful we claim before the relevant conciliation body (“organismo di mediazione”) that within 30 days will appoint a mediator and set the first mediation meeting

On the first meeting, the mediator explains the purpose of the mediation and its proceeding. In the same occasion, the mediator also formally asks each party, which has to be assisted by an attorney, if they accept the mediation. 

This means that the parties have both the possibility to:

  • accept the mediation, that will consequently start. In order to find an agreement it might take more than one mediation meeting, but mediation cannot last more than 3 months;
  • not be present at the meeting;
  • be present and to not accept the mediation, that will therefore fail.

In the case of mandatory mediations, the legal action can be started right after the failure of the first mediation attempt.

On the contrary, if an agreement is reached, the mediator will draft minutes for the parties, if present, and their lawyers to be signed. Please note that the agreement constitutes an order of enforcement, so we can proceed executively for the collection of your debt without a preliminary judicial action.

Judicial (In Court) Debt Collection

In case the extrajudicial attempts fail, in order to proceed judicially, we need to value what the best procedure for your case is.

The choice depends on the specific characteristics of your credit, the documents you have, possible witnesses.

Pursuant to the Italian law, there are different procedures that can be followed, the main ones are the following ones.


Claim for payment order (“ricorso per decreto ingiuntivo”)

This is the fastest one and it can be obtained without the involvement of the debtor in the first phase. For this procedure, it is not mandatory to preliminarily proceed with mediation and assisted negotiation.

However, this claim is possible only in the presence of the following requirements:

  • your credit shall consist in an amount of money, of fungible things, or in the delivery of a chattel;
  • your credit has to be certain, liquid and payable;
  • there has to be a written proof.

Once your claim has been filed before the relevant court, the judge, within 30 days, issues the order of payment, where your credit is duly quantified. 

The obtained order has then to be notified to your debtor that could:

  • pay their debt;
  • contest your credit and therefore oppose the order of payment within 40 days, please note that the debtor’s opposition starts an ordinary proceeding which aim is to determine the veracity of your claim;
  • not oppose the “decreto ingiuntivo” that after 40 days, with a specific title (“formula esecutiva”), becomes executive and therefore allows you to enforce your debtor.

In case your debt is founded on:

  • a promissory note (“cambiale”);
  • a bank cheque;
  • a cashier’s cheque;
  • a stock exchange clearance certificate (“certificato di liquidazione di borsa”);
  • any act received from  a Public Notary or other public official;
  • a written recognition of the debt, signed by the debtor;

you could claim for a payment order provisionally executive (“provvisoriamente esecutivo”). This claim is also possible in case of serious prejudice deriving from the delay in the payment.

The payment order provisionally executive has the perks to become executive, in the presence of a specific title (“formula esecutiva”), right after its issuance. In any case, the debtor has the right to oppose the order within 40 days.


Claim ex art. 702-bis Italian Civil Procedure Code (“ricorso”)

In case you cannot file a claim for a payment order, there is the possibility to file a legal action before the relevant court. 

In certain subjects predetermined by the law, it is mandatory to first start a mediation before the relevant conciliation body (“organismo di mediazione”) or, for credits lower or equal to € 50.000, an assisted negotiation

A claim (ricorso) ex art. 702-bis Italian Civil Procedure Code is a summary legal proceeding characterized that can be filed when it is possible for the judge to decide the case by a simplified investigation.

In the first hearing the judge has to evaluate if the summary proceeding allows arguing your case. 

  • If it does, after acquiring any relevant element to the case, the judge will proceed with decision through a self-executing deed (“ordinanza”).  
  • If it does not, the judge with a deed will order to convert the proceeding with the ordinary one. 

We will evaluate if this is the best way to proceed in your case.


Ordinary Lawsuit  

In case you cannot file a claim for payment order or with a claim ex art. 702 bis c.p.c., there is the possibility to file a legal action before the relevant court. 

In certain subjects predetermined by the law, it is mandatory to first start a mediation before the relevant conciliation body (“organismo di mediazione”) or, for credits lower or equal to € 50.000, an assisted negotiation

In case the mediation or the assisted negotiation fail, it is possible to proceed with: an ordinary claim (“atto di citazione”), that will start an ordinary proceeding with full knowledge. In this case, the process would be longer as there are three stages: 

  • introduction (summons to the debtor and entry of appearance of all the plaintiffs);
  • dissertation (admission of any relevant evidence, possible witnesses, technical advice requested by the judge);
  • decision through a judgement.

Contact us if you have a debt to collect and we will advise on the best way to proceed.

Enforcement Procedures

If you have collected an executive, following an extrajudicial, or a judicial procedure and the debtor does not pay, you can proceed with an enforcement procedure

The executive title has to be notified to the debtor along with the writ of enforcement (“atto di precetto”), an order to fulfil the obligation stated in the executive title within at least 10 days, along with the warning that, without, you will be obliged to start an enforcement procedure.

Please note that the enforcement procedure to start is strictly related to the kind of goods to be enforced.

1. Execution on chattels (“esecuzione mobiliare”)

You can ask the bailiff to seize the home assets of the debtor; chattels, money and credit instruments to enforce have to be at the debtor’s availability, this means the bailiff does not have to ascertain who is their actual owner. 

The bailiff will edit a report enlisting the chattels that seem easier to sell, along with their state and value. In order to start the enforcement, this report will have to be deposited within 15 days before the relevant court. There will start a procedure to sell them and to use the proceeds from the sale to pay off execution costs and debts.

2. Execution from a third party (“esecuzione presso terzi”), if your debtor’s goods are not in his direct possession (for example money on a bank account, a credit, a part of the salary), it will be necessary to ask the bailiff to notify both to the debtor and the third party the arraignment (“atto di citazione”). 

The third parties have the duty to provide within 10 days an official statement determining the value of the debtor’s goods in their control. 

It is important to proceed as soon as possible because, after the notification, the third parties cannot dispose of these goods they hold on the limit of the debt, plus 50%. If the third party does not issue the statement, he will be asked to in a specific hearing. If the third party does not appear in the hearing or does not give the statement, is interpreted as non-contested. This means that it is possible to proceed with the enforcement.

This procedure is shorter and usually, it allows to achieve better results than the execution on chattels.    

3. Execution on real estates (“esecuzione immobiliare”)

This proceeding, the longest one, could be suggested if the amount of your credit is high and it requires a preliminary exam of the real estate owned by the debtor, that will have to be sold. 

The stages of this procedure are:

  • identification of the real estate to be enforced;
  • notification of the writ of seizure (“atto di pignoramento”);
  • transcription of the enforcement;
  • deposit on the Records Office of the tax roll recording (“nota di iscrizione a ruolo”), writ of enforcement, of seizure and its transcription;
  • other creditors’ intervention (if present);
  • claim of selling;
  • notarial report and appraisal on the value of the property
  • hearing to decide the selling methods;
  • selling.

Please note that despite the duration and the cost, this proceeding could allow you to retrieve your full credit with the sole property selling.

Insolvency Procedures

If your debtor is a company and the above procedures are not enough to retrieve your credit, there is also the possibility to:

  • file a petition for bankruptcy (“istanza di fallimento”) in case of the state of insolvency (“stato di insolvenza”), which means that the company is no longer able to pay its debts. Be aware that in this case the possibility to retrieve your credit is strictly related to the overall debts of the company.
  • apply for admission to the liabilities in bankruptcy (“insinuazione al passivo”) if your company debtor is already under a bankruptcy proceeding.
  • to choose a composition with creditors (“concordato preventivo”);
  • a debt reconstruction agreement (“accordo di ristrutturazione dei debiti”).

After an evaluation of your debtor’s situation, we advise you on the best enforcement procedure to follow. Contact us by clicking here to discuss your case.

Deductibility of Losses

The expression “deductibility of losses” refers to the possibility to subtract the losses to the taxable net income in order not to pay taxes and VAT on the amount that you have not received. 

The losses on credits could be deductible if the credits are determined by certain and precise elements. 

This is possible in the following cases: 

  • your debtor is subject to an insolvency proceeding (“procedura concorsuale”);
  • your debtor reached a debt restoration agreement (“accordo di ristrutturazione dei debiti”);
  • your credit is moderate and expired from at least 6 months.

Please note that for major companies a credit can be considered “moderate” if it is lower or equal to € 5.000, and in case of minor ones € 2.500. It is important for you to know that the credit has to be calculated net of interests of arrears and VAT tax.

  • your credit is expired;
  • your credit was cancelled by the application of accounting principles (“principi contabili”).

If you wish to know more about the deductibility of losses, do not hesitate to contact us.

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