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Debt recovery - how to do it

Media, arbitration, statute of limitations on debts, types of court proceedings

Media, arbitration, statute of limitations on debts, types of court proceedings

If you run a business, you should be prepared for the fact that even the most reliable partners may have problems with paying on time. The reason may be temporary financial problems, or even simple negligence or forgetfulness on the part of our partner. Sometimes one phone call with a reminder is enough to clarify the matter. However, this does not always have an effect. What should I do if my debtor fails to pay his obligations on time?

Monitoring of receivables

Remember that the smooth running of your business will depend on whether you manage and control your finances well. Even short-term arrears can cause payment bottlenecks that will make it harder for you to settle your company's obligations. Controlling receivables and payment deadlines is a basic step you should take to prevent dangerous bottlenecks. The monitoring service, in case of handling a large number of payments, can be outsourced to a professional company.

One of the methods of preventing problems with payments is the use of the so-called preventive seal, which is placed on commercial documents as part of cooperation with e.g. a law firm or a debt collection company. The content of the seal informs the contractor that in case of failure to pay on time, the recovery of receivables will be handled by a professional entity.

Pre-trial measures

At each stage of a dispute concerning a claim, you should strive to resolve it by amicable means. Remember that referring a case to court means additional costs and time spent on preparing relevant documents, letters to court and settling cases related to the proceedings.

Conversation with the debtor

A telephone conversation or sending a reminder (call) via e-mail is one of the simplest and generally available solutions. A telephone conversation may resemble a kind of negotiation with a debtor and in many cases the problem is solved, and both parties have the possibility to maintain good economic relations and continue cooperation.

Requests for payment

If the debtor does not pay, you can send a request for payment. It should contain specific information (such as the number of the invoice with the amount and date of issue) and the date on which the overdue payment should be paid. You can inform in the request about the possibility of charging statutory interest for late payment and about tranferring information about the debt to the Economic Information Bureau (BIG). Once the payment deadline specified in the request has expired (and the payment has not been received), you can take the case to court. Before you do this, you can send the debtor a pre-litigation request for payment in writing (as later evidence of the claim). The request should contain the necessary elements that specify the request (e.g. the date and number of the invoice, the amount to be paid under the contract plus any interest due, etc.). For the purpose of evidence it is worth keeping the written confirmation of sending.


If your debtor acknowledges his or her obligations, but would like to postpone the payment deadline or spread it out into instalments, you can sign an out-of-court settlement with him or her. First of all, it is important that the debtor recognises his debt in the settlement, which is important in the case of court proceedings. The settlement should specify all the obligations and the documents from which they arise, together with the amount and interest. There should also be a timetable for repayments. A safeguard against non-respect of a settlement may be e.g. a provision on the immediate maturity of the entire debt in the event of non-payment of any installment on time and on the right to demand interest.

Another form of an amicable settlement of a dispute is a call for an amicable settlement (conciliation proceedings), which allows for a settlement before a court before filing a statement of claim. Importantly, the call interrupts the limitation period.


An increasingly popular means of dispute resolution is mediation, where a professional mediator helps to solve a dispute.


It is an out-of-court dispute resolution method, in which the parties entrust the resolution of disputes to a person who is a specialist in the field of conflict. The advantages of arbitration as compared to proceedings before the common court include: confidentiality of proceedings, speed and flexibility of proceedings, lack of unnecessary formalism. It is worth noting that a judgement of an arbitration court has the same binding force as a judgement of a common court after the declaration of enforceability. Already at the stage of creating an agreement with your partner, you can agree that any disputes will be resolved by arbitration.

Court proceedings

If the debtor effectively evades the payment of receivables, sometimes there is nothing else but referring the case to the court. In the case of disputes concerning receivables exceeding PLN 75,000, the cases will be examined by the regional court (with the exception of electronic writ-of-payment proceedings, the so-called E-court). For claims with a lower value, the district court will have jurisdiction. The so-called local jurisdiction, i.e. the location of the court, is also important. As a rule, in case of disputes between entrepreneurs, a lawsuit against a company is filed according to the place of its registered office. Remember, however, that the court that will consider any disputes arising from your agreement with the creditor can be determined by an appropriate provision in the agreement. For example, it may read: "Any disputes that may arise in connection with the performance of this Agreement shall be settled by the court having territorial jurisdiction over the Contractor's registered office.

Cases related to conducting business activity may be dealt with in several types of proceedings, including prescriptive, writ of payment and simplified proceedings.

  • prescriptive - recommended in the case of undisputed documents confirming the debt (VAT invoices, bills of exchange, a written declaration of the debtor on recognition of the debt). It ends with issuing a payment order. At the same time, it constitutes a security for the claim, enforceable without the need for an enforcement clause.
  • writ of payment - used in cases where it is not possible to meet the conditions necessary for filing a statement of claim for prescriptive proceedings
  • simplified - it is used when the value of the subject matter of the dispute does not exceed PLN 20,000.

If the conducted talks with the debtor and sent summons have not led to payment by the contractor, the electronic writ of payment procedure (EPU) gives you the possibility of quick recovery of the amount due in court. Through the E-court website you can file an electronic lawsuit and assert pecuniary claims regardless of their amount.

It is worth remembering

  • If you decide to take your case to court, it is advisable to seek the assistance of a lawyer. In the case of court proceedings, even minor formal errors can lead to prolonged proceedings.
  • At every stage you can entrust the management of your claims to professional debt collection companies. They have the right tools to effectively enforce debts from unreliable partners. Their services are provided commercially.

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