Thursday, October 9, 2008

Recovering Bad Debt in Ireland

Well, the postman came but didn't bring my overdue cheque (see: "Relax - The Cheque is in the Post", below) which put me on another learning curve: namely, how do I make a claim for a small debt - in my case €250 - in Ireland?

I discovered, via the Citizens Information website that the Irish Small Claims system (which allows for recovery of debt up to €2000) is only available for Consumer Claims. That is: debt occurring from the purchase of goods and services, such as for faulty goods or bad workmanship. The goods or services must have been bought for private use, from someone selling them in the course of business. Claims cannot be made in the small claims court for debt, personal injuries or breach of leasing, or hire-purchase agreements.

And, most significantly for me: The procedure is not available for use by one business person against another.

Further inquiries, with the Citizens Information Service and the Small Claims Court, left me with the impression that recovering the €250 owed to me would involve the services of a solicitor (Lawyer, for my American readers) or a debt recovery service. Both of these options would be costly, for me, and time consuming, and in the case of the debt recovery agency, I doubt that anyone would take it on for 25% of €250 - and, as the nice woman at the Citizen's Information Service pointed out - even then there would be no guarantee of getting the debtor to pay up, and court action may have to ensue.

So, this has got me thinking, what does the small business person in Ireland do to recover small amounts of bad debt? Is there anything worth doing for such a small amount? In my case, I can't afford to write-off every debt under say €1000, but the cost of recovering it (in time and money) seems to render the effort pointless.

In my own case, there may be some good news. While I was pondering this conundrum, I remembered that I was a member of a Union (NUJ - National Union of Journalists) and I had a vague idea that they could offer assistance with debt recovery. I telephoned the Irish office (link in line above) and was told by Helen that indeed they could help with recovering bad debt - and all I had to do with email her with details and an officer of the union would look into it for me.

So, I'm going to email the Management Company again, and tell them the cheque did not arrive and tell them "you can't touch me, I'm part of the union" (they might know the song).

Watch this space.

1 comment:

  1. As always Stephen,a very interesting read and i loved the "you tube" video!
    Reading about these problems that can occur brings out the realism of being a self employed "Freelancer" which I would one day like to become but for now I'll have to take the easy way out of being employed and the regular income.
    Working as a Postman,I am always getting moaned at about "The cheque is in the post and should be here by now" comments by customers who have been lied to by non paying clients!
    Keep up the good work!
    Tim Oram,Suffolk.

    ReplyDelete

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