03 MAY 2018
Despite the principle in Italian civil code that "the debtor is liable with all his current and future assets, debt recovery in Italy carries certain challenges concerning procedures and the time table around credit recovery. Nevertheless, with the introduction of the "Online civil trial" (processo telematico) and other amendments, credit recovery got more simple in some cases where the debtor has a written, signed proof of the debt.
Judicial credit recovery is used when all attempts to recover the credit in an amicable manner have failed. However, there are some cases in which it is inevitable but to turn directly to legal actions, thus skipping the extrajudicial debt recovery attempts. (e.g. cases in which the creditor wishes to prevent the claim from being prescribed)
With the exception of such particular cases, it is therefore advisable to try first the extrajudicial option in order to recover the debt in a friendly manner to avoid unnecessary complications and costs.
Lettera messa in mora (collection letter)
After exhausting all means to formally collect the debt, the creditor may request assistance from an Italian lawyer to start procedures to recover the debt. The collection letter which is written and sent via registered mail or PEC by the lawyer serves as an official document according to which the debtor is required to pay his debt, including capital plus interest accrued in addition to the late interest rate (calculated in accordance with Italian law 231/2002), and legal fees within seven to ten days of receipt of the letter.
Since 2013 all VAT entities in Italy, both private and public sector are required by law to publicly exhibit an e-mail address, PEC (Posta elettronica certificata) which is equivalent to registered mail. This type of authenticated email is identical to legal mail , used to certify the validity of the e-mail and its attached documents. The introduction of PEC shortens notification delivery time and reduces costs.
If the debt has not been settled following the collection letter or during amicable negotiations with the debtor, the creditor may turn to the court without any further notice.
The creditor will be asked by his attorney to provide all documents relevant to the specific debt (invoices, signed delivery notes for goods or services listed on the invoice, etc.), which will be used in a petition filed by his attorney requesting from the judge to issue an injunction to the creditor (it usually takes forty days or seven to ten days in the case of an 'Online civil trial' - processo telematico). Claims of up to 5,000 Euro should be filed with the Small Claims Court.
The debtor is given a period of forty days to pay his debt (capital, interest and legal expenses) or to appeal the decision of the court, which will then initiate a regular formal proceeding in accordance with the procedures set out in the Italian code (codice procedura civile 633 – 656)
Once the forty days have passed, and provided that the debtor has not appealed the court order and has not settled his debt, the lawyer of the creditor will request from the court to initiate the enforcement proceeding within ten days. The case will then be transferred to the court bailiff and who will carry out the process.
Caroli & Di Bitonto Law firm operates in the area of debt recovery and collection since 2005, providing a wide range of services to corporate and individual customers. Our strength comes mainly from the extensive experience accumulated over the years by representing international clients who require specific solutions and services in the area of debt collection and credit recovery throughout Italy. We offer professional and methodical approach in the area of debt collection as well as in the accompanying proceedings.
The steps described in this guide are intended to provide general information only. In every case of debt recovery, the specific steps that should be considered will depend on various factors such as the size of the debt, the financial situation of the debtor and the documentation to support the claim.
Our Lawyers have an extensive experience and know-how in supporting foreign and local businesses all over Italy in their debt collection and credit recovery requirements. Our deep local experience is supported by a solid network of competent lawyers with expertise in debt recovery and collection best practices. Caroli | Di Bitonto represents corporate clients from various sectors, mainly foreign companies seeking professional and reliable representation in Italy. Among our clients are hi-tech companies, banks, start-ups and manufacturers from various industries.