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Old 15.01.2015, 16:22
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Using the Betreibung [debt collection] process from the UK

Hi,

I live in the UK and have been reading through this forum about the "Betreibung", with the reason being that I am in dispute with an online company that has a UK domain but (as I later found out) is based in Switzerland. Their terms and conditions (as I later found out) bind me to Swiss Law in the event of any dispute.

The amount owed is £1209 (approx 1600 CHF) and I have tried everything I can to recover this debt by means of writing to this company and pointing out the terms of our contract that they have breached. In the UK the process we would use would be to go through the small claims court, something I have previously done and is relatively straight forward. Because of the Swiss Jurisdiction though I had almost resigned myself to writing this debt off because my feeling was that I would have to employ a Swiss Solicitor, which probably wouldn't be economically viable for such a small amount.

I don't have a good understanding of what a "Betreibung" is so I am really looking for advice that assumes I know absolutely nothing!

Is the "Betreibung" a process that I could easily follow myself from the UK or would I need help from a solicitor or a debt collecting Agency in Switzerland?

From what I have read it seems more like a debt collecting process so I am wondering if there is a company I can approach to take this up on my behalf? This would be my preference but I would also like to know if doing so would be economically viable and if they would be able to communicate with me in English. Also, what are the chances that this would ultimately lead to me having to follow it up with legal/court action anyway?

A bit of background as to the nature of the debt..............this is regarding a sporting event I had purchased tickets for (the ATP tennis finals in London). As I was unable to go to the event, I was permitted by the tournament organisers to re-sell my tickets the Viagogo website, whom I am now in dispute with. The ATP (event organisers) were actually in official partnership with Viagogo and actively encouraged this process (by redirecting customers to their website for dates that were already "sold out"). Having successfully sold my tickets through Viagogo, the net proceeds due to me (after they had taken commission) was £1774 (approx 2374 CHF). I only received £564 of this (approx 753CHF) Unfortunately (as a lot of you will probably remember) Roger Federer pulled out of the event at the last minute. This resulted in the ATP making a good will gesture by means of a 60% refund to all ticket holders who had bought directly from them. Presumably, under a great deal of pressure from their official partner, Viagogo followed suit but, in doing so, breached the terms of the contact I had with them (based on their own Terms and Conditions). It should also be noted that even the ATP's terms and conditions didn't allow for any refund in these circumstances as the event did go ahead (The doubles final was played to conclusion and there were two exhibition matches played as a substitute for the match that Roger Federer was due to take part in).
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Old 16.01.2015, 13:47
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Re: Using the Betreibung process from the UK

A Betreibung is usually a simple debt collecting process. You go to the office where the debtor is registered, show them receipts or contracts that have not been honoured. Pay a fee, which is added to the debt, and the Betreibungs office tries to get the money for you.

Your situation is much more complicated, even if you were living here I think you would need a lawyer, whose basic fee is fixed to the amount of the debt.

BUT, did you pay by credit card? Then you can claim from the credit card company, and they will recover the money from the seller.
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Old 16.01.2015, 16:02
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Re: Using the Betreibung process from the UK

Debt Collection in Switzerland is explained here:
http://geneva.angloinfo.com/informat...bt-collection/

I'd say the difficulty in your case is language & observance of time limits...
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Old 16.01.2015, 17:08
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Re: Using the Betreibung process from the UK

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A Betreibung is usually a simple debt collecting process. You go to the office where the debtor is registered, show them receipts or contracts that have not been honoured. Pay a fee, which is added to the debt, and the Betreibungs office tries to get the money for you.

Your situation is much more complicated, even if you were living here I think you would need a lawyer, whose basic fee is fixed to the amount of the debt.

BUT, did you pay by credit card? Then you can claim from the credit card company, and they will recover the money from the seller.
Thanks for your advice, it's very much appreciated. Would it be worthwhile me trying to contact the Betreibungs office anyway to see if this can be done by me providing the necessary information from the UK? It's a Geneva based company I am chasing and their contract compels me to resolve any disputes within Swiss Jurisdiction using Swiss law.
I have tried to get the Geneva Betreibungs office details via the main website but have been unable to navigate it because of my lack of French/German language skills! Is anyone able to provide an email for the Geneva office?

Alternatively, if anyone can tell me how to go about finding a Swiss lawyer then that would be great. Email addresses for a couple of firms in Geneva would be a good start.

RE the credit card, I don't think I'm covered, although there was a credit card involved. What happens is that Viagogo act as an intermediary between the buyer and the seller. They take the sellers credit card as security (and debit it for 150% of the transaction value if the tickets fail to materialise and they have to compensate the buyer). In order to pay the seller they take credit card payment from the Buyer and then Pay the seller using PayPal. I have already checked with PayPal to see if they can help but they can't
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Old 16.01.2015, 19:45
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Re: Using the Betreibung process from the UK

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Thanks for your advice, it's very much appreciated. Would it be worthwhile me trying to contact the Betreibungs office anyway to see if this can be done by me providing the necessary information from the UK? It's a Geneva based company I am chasing and their contract compels me to resolve any disputes within Swiss Jurisdiction using Swiss law.
I have tried to get the Geneva Betreibungs office details via the main website but have been unable to navigate it because of my lack of French/German language skills! Is anyone able to provide an email for the Geneva office?

Alternatively, if anyone can tell me how to go about finding a Swiss lawyer then that would be great. Email addresses for a couple of firms in Geneva would be a good start.

RE the credit card, I don't think I'm covered, although there was a credit card involved. What happens is that Viagogo act as an intermediary between the buyer and the seller. They take the sellers credit card as security (and debit it for 150% of the transaction value if the tickets fail to materialise and they have to compensate the buyer). In order to pay the seller they take credit card payment from the Buyer and then Pay the seller using PayPal. I have already checked with PayPal to see if they can help but they can't
1) This; http://ge.ch/opf/contact
is the link to the 'contact' information page of the Geneva Office des Poursuites;

There's isn't an email address and I can't seem to find one anywhere else, but there is a fax number if that helps.

The e-demarches section on the right hand-side only seems to concern applying for online certificates of non-debt (needed here when applying for an appartment, etc.).

2) This; https://www.gov.uk/government/upload...EIN_2014v2.pdf

is a list of english-speaking lawyers in Switzerland. Geneva is on page 5.
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Old 16.01.2015, 23:55
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Re: Using the Betreibung process from the UK

If you paid the company with a credit card for the tickets, value above £100, they will get the money back for you. It is basic English law, maybe you can try it first?

Otherwise if you cannot write in French, the debt collecting process isn't going to work, as they will insist on French, or simply ignore you.

The list of lawyers Angela gave you has e-mail contact addresses.

https://www.gov.uk/government/upload...EIN_2014v2.pdf
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Old 17.01.2015, 00:29
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Re: Using the Betreibung process from the UK

It might be worth pursuing a claim in an English court (which should be relatively straightforward and cheap), and then follow the procedures set out in the Hague Conference to have the judgment confirmed in a Geneva cantonal court. The tricky bit would be to make sure that you don't cock up on the basic formalities (accurately identifying the defendant, for example).

The threat of such an action might be enough to make Viagogo cough up. Under Swiss law, the loser pays the winner's legal costs, which in this case would be more than the amount owing, so they may just decide to pay.

Make sure that all communication is by fax or registered post.
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Old 17.01.2015, 00:50
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Re: Using the Betreibung process from the UK

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1) This; http://ge.ch/opf/contact
is the link to the 'contact' information page of the Geneva Office des Poursuites;

There's isn't an email address and I can't seem to find one anywhere else, but there is a fax number if that helps.

The e-demarches section on the right hand-side only seems to concern applying for online certificates of non-debt (needed here when applying for an appartment, etc.).

2) This; https://www.gov.uk/government/upload...EIN_2014v2.pdf
is a list of english-speaking lawyers in Switzerland. Geneva is on page 5.
Thanks for doing this Anjela, it's extremely helpful and appreciated. Thanks to everyone else too.
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Old 22.01.2015, 14:41
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Re: Using the Betreibung [debt collection] process from the UK

Hi again!

I found the following online - https://www.betreibungsschalter-plus.ch/ but had to rely on Google translator to read it.

This company had an email address so I have been communicating with them over the last couple of weeks.

The problem is that I'm not entirely sure who they are! Is anyone able to tell me if they are the proper Betreibung office or if they are just a company who will carry out the Betreibung on my behalf?

I know that the obvious answer is just to ask them but I already have and they are only really making short replies in regard to my actual claim. Since it always takes them a few days to reply it is becoming a bit frustrating!

Jern - I have just noticed your reply and hadn't seen it previously. Thanks very much, this is also very helpful. I am actually in Scotland so we have a different legal system from England. I assume that the Hague Conference would still apply though? Also, the process we use for claims for this kind of sum is called "The Small Claims Court". Does your knowledge extend to knowing whether I would be able to start this claim through the Scottish Small Claims Court and how I would then get their ruling confirmed by the Swiss courts? I am assuming the Scottish Judge (or Sherriff as we call them) would first of all want a justification of why I think the Scottish court has jurisdiction? If so, do I just tell him/her that it's so I can get the ruling confirmed by a Swiss court using the Hague Conference?

Apologies for all of the questions as I essentially don't really know what I am doing here - which I am sure is what this debtor is banking on. I'm very determined though!
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Old 22.01.2015, 16:16
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Re: Using the Betreibung [debt collection] process from the UK

They're just a debt collecting agency. Probably won't get much joy out of them unless you're happy for them to take a big slice of any revenue. Under Swiss law the creditor has to bear all expenses associated with money-chasing (except interest, court costs and capped lawyer's costs).

It's actually the Lugano Convention which applies here. And it certainly applies to judgements of Scottish courts. Likely to be expensive - more than the amount owed.

The Poursuite (Betreibung) route may be more effective, but you would need an agent (address for service) in Switzerland. You don't need a solicitor unless it goes to court. You (or your agent) would apply to the Office des Poursuites to claim the money, the OdP would deliver a "demand for payment", and the debtor has ten days in which to dispute it (he doesn't need to give reasons). If he disputes it, which he probably will, because it doesn't cost him anything, you then have to state your case to a court and start legal action. It's at this point that the costs will start to build up (although the legal costs are largely borne by the loser, so there's a strong incentive for the debtor to resolve the matter).

You could try both. File a Small Claim and a Betreibung. Both are relatively cheap, and the two-pronged approach might make them cough up, rather than spending a fortune on legal advice.
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Old 22.01.2015, 16:39
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Re: Using the Betreibung [debt collection] process from the UK

Jern has already answered some points so sorry for repetition.... I just wanted to add a few details....

About https://www.betreibungsschalter-plus.ch/ :
No, they won't do the procedure for you. Their website collects information and links - which can be useful for some people. They also offer an insurance (Collecta Protect) which costs CHF 490 per year (!). That's probably where you got the idea that you could let them do it for you. This insurance can be useful for companies because if one of their clients doesn't pay they can hand the case over to them.

To start a collection procedure (Betreibung) in Switzerland one doesn't need a lawyer. The "Betreibung" puts pressure on the debtor because it will be registered in a public registry and often this results in payment - especially if the claim of the creditor is rightful / if this is easy to prove. If the debtor does not give in, the case will end up in court (creditor's decision) and then the creditor usually needs a lawyer.

I googled V. and V. seems to have problems with lots of customers (or rather customers with V.....) because deals don't turn out as expected. To prove that your claim is rightful and that you can go after V., and V. in Switzerland and don't have to go after ATP are probably your weak points.... V. might have a lot of experience with unhappy clients...

If you think that V. Geneva/Switzerland is the correct debtor.....

- you need somebody to represent you in Switzerland - mainly to receive documents for you and forward to you. This person needs a power of attorney.

- you need the correct address of the debtor. The commercial registry (www.zefix.ch) tells you the address of the debtor.

- Which Debt Collection Office DCO is in charge depends on the address of the debtor.
https://www.e-service.admin.ch/eschk...rd/navigate.do
In your case this would be
------------
Office des poursuites
Rue du Stand 46
Case postale 208
1211 Genève 8
-------------

- You have to complete the Debt Collection Request (Betreibungsbegehren/Réquisition de Poursuite). That form is in French.
http://ge.ch/opf/media/opf/files/fic...equisition.pdf
there is also a Word-version, linke here
http://ge.ch/opf/publications-et-formulaires

- You have to advance the fee. Bank details are here http://ge.ch/opf/contact
Amount is approx. CHF 75. Contact DCO for exact amount.

just to give you an idea how it would work....
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Old 22.01.2015, 16:41
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Re: Using the Betreibung [debt collection] process from the UK

Thanks again Jern.

Just to confirm, you think that the Scottish Courts would hear my case even though it is against a company with a Swiss HQ and (in agreeing to their terms and conditions) I am bound by Swiss law? If so, how would I word this on the small claims summons? I think you have to justify jurisdiction?? From my end I feel that the transaction certainly took place in Scotland as it was done online and I had to upload the product (the PDF ticket) from my computer in Scotland. Is this what is key?

So far as the Betreibung route is concerned, how do I go about finding an Agent that isn't a solicitor for the address for service? And does it matter that this address will be different from the address in Scotland that I used when I was concluding this transaction?

Thanks for the info on the debt collecting agency. They actually just got back to me confirming that they cannot help.

As you also suggest, I think my main chance of making a success of this is to scare this company into paying up before following through with any of this action is neccissary.
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Old 22.01.2015, 16:45
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Re: Using the Betreibung [debt collection] process from the UK

Don't go anywhere near swiss lawyers......for that amount the costs will almost immediately outweigh what you are owed
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Old 22.01.2015, 16:59
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Re: Using the Betreibung [debt collection] process from the UK

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Thanks again Jern.

Just to confirm, you think that the Scottish Courts would hear my case even though it is against a company with a Swiss HQ and (in agreeing to their terms and conditions) I am bound by Swiss law? If so, how would I word this on the small claims summons? I think you have to justify jurisdiction?? From my end I feel that the transaction certainly took place in Scotland as it was done online and I had to upload the product (the PDF ticket) from my computer in Scotland. Is this what is key?

So far as the Betreibung route is concerned, how do I go about finding an Agent that isn't a solicitor for the address for service? And does it matter that this address will be different from the address in Scotland that I used when I was concluding this transaction?

Thanks for the info on the debt collecting agency. They actually just got back to me confirming that they cannot help.

As you also suggest, I think my main chance of making a success of this is to scare this company into paying up before following through with any of this action is neccissary.
From what I know of the Small Claims procedure, you won't need to provide all the details of the contract. You just tell them how much you claim, and why you think you are owed the money. It is then up to the defendant to dispute the jurisdiction of the court if he wants to, but I can't imagine any UK court finding non-competence in a case where the delivery of the service took place in the UK.

Assuming the defendant is a registered company, then there shouldn't be any problem delivering the court documents, either.

Regarding the address, you would need to find someone who is willing to act as your local representative - file the paperwork and forward any replies to you. Your real address would be given as the claimant, but with a local agent's address for correspondence.
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Old 22.01.2015, 17:29
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Re: Using the Betreibung [debt collection] process from the UK

First of all, thanks to jopsa. Like with all of the other people who have responded to this newbie's lengthy post it's really appreciated when absolute strangers are willing to go to the effort of finding out and giving information like this on my behalf. In terms of "V" I have been subjected to their disgraceful service both as a buyer and a seller and know firsthand that all of these online reviews are fully accurate. In the UK there have been several TV documentaries about them as they are essentially a UK company who moved to Switzerland to get round various new laws concerning the resale of tickets. I'm no expert but I cannot think of any reason why the ATP could be held liable for this as the contract is between V and myself. In any case they have satisfied "V's" own Terms and conditions (with me), which state that "All Sales are Final. All sales and bids are final. No refunds, cancellations or exchanges will be issued for date or time changes, partial performances, or lost tickets". They also say "When You sell tickets on V, provided you provide the exact tickets listed for sale and the ticket Buyer successfully gains entry to the event, V guarantees that you will be paid for your sale". The tickets were never advertised saying that Roger Federer would be performing (the advert and the tickets just stated the date and time of the "session") and indeed it could be argued that the fans got more than they paid for as the Mens doubles final went ahead and the Mens singles final was replaced by two exhibition matches featuring the likes of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic

Poot - yeah I was thinking that too. I don't even go near Scottish Solicitors and dread to think how much more I would get ripped off by some foreign solicitors who know I am too distant to be able to challenge anything they do!

Jern/ jopsa -yes I think you are correct Jern in terms of the information I would need to provide on the small claim and I think that if the court are at least willing to serve the summons for me then that will be enough to frighten them into making payment. I'm also going to send them one final letter saying that I am preparing the summons and that I have befriended lots of people online who are in the same situation and I plan to walk them all through every step of this process in detail!

One thing though, are you pretty certain that if I give their Swiss address on the summons that they will actually serve this? In Scotland they first try to serve the summons by recorded delivery but if that doesn't work then the court's clerk has to go to the address in person and there are fees for doing this. Since this company have already signed for a letter that I sent them I'm sure they will sign for the summons on the assumption that it's just another complaint from a disgruntled customer.

In respect of the address for the Betreibung, I have a friend who has friends who are actually in Geneva (same city as the debtor). Would this be as straight forward as saying to them "hey will you accept some post at your address and forward it on to me" or do they need to have some kind of legal standing? I'm assuming I can start the process by filing the paperwork myself by post and using the friends address for replies? That's once I get my French Speaking sister in Canada to complete all the forms!
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Old 22.01.2015, 17:44
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Re: Using the Betreibung [debt collection] process from the UK

I dont mean to hijack this thread but i Need help collecting Money from a Cousin residing in the US. We voluntarily lended (sorry if thats the wrong term?) them Money 3 years ago with the Agreement that they will have to pay it but no date/pressure. The amount is more than 2000chf.


We have contacted them and gave suggestions/Details how to make the payment but until now nothing is Happening and i am getting very annoyed with them showing off their iphones and Lifestyle in facebook. Another Thing is my sister is going through a divorce right now (also in the US) and she has been asking me for financial help. Iam thinking of telling my sister or dad to do something about it, i would appreciate any guidance/links on how to do this. Talking about it didnt work so we are thinking something similar to the process mentioned here.
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Old 22.01.2015, 17:56
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Re: Using the Betreibung [debt collection] process from the UK

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Jern/ jopsa -yes I think you are correct Jern in terms of the information I would need to provide on the small claim and I think that if the court are at least willing to serve the summons for me then that will be enough to frighten them into making payment. I'm also going to send them one final letter saying that I am preparing the summons and that I have befriended lots of people online who are in the same situation and I plan to walk them all through every step of this process in detail!
I wouldn't bother with the last bit. It would make you look unprofessional. Just stick to the claim.

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One thing though, are you pretty certain that if I give their Swiss address on the summons that they will actually serve this? In Scotland they first try to serve the summons by recorded delivery but if that doesn't work then the court's clerk has to go to the address in person and there are fees for doing this.
Phone the court and ask them if they send documents to Switzerland by international recorded delivery. Under Swiss law a recorded delivery is considered to have been delivered even if the recipient is out and doesn't collect it from the post office, but I suppose that the Scottish court may apply different rules if the letter is returned. But don't worry about that - give it a go.

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In respect of the address for the Betreibung, I have a friend who has friends who are actually in Geneva (same city as the debtor). Would this be as straight forward as saying to them "hey will you accept some post at your address and forward it on to me" or do they need to have some kind of legal standing? I'm assuming I can start the process by filing the paperwork myself by post and using the friends address for replies? That's once I get my French Speaking sister in Canada to complete all the forms!
Should be fine. No, they don't need to have legal standing. Just a Power of Attorney to act on your behalf in this matter.
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Old 22.01.2015, 18:51
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Re: Using the Betreibung [debt collection] process from the UK

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Phone the court and ask them if they send documents to Switzerland by international recorded delivery. Under Swiss law a recorded delivery is considered to have been delivered even if the recipient is out and doesn't collect it from the post office, but I suppose that the Scottish court may apply different rules if the letter is returned. But don't worry about that - give it a go.
Thanks Jern, I gave them a call and they confirmed that they do serve the summons on my behalf and that they do it by recorded delivery. I'm pretty confident that will work since this company have already signed for the letter I sent to them in Geneva.

The court did confuse matters somewhat by suggesting that they might have to translate the summons (at my expense) into either French, German or Italian but the guy I spoke to couldn't really elaborate further when probed. I said that the contract was in English and all correspondence has been in English so he told me to send it in and they would run it by a Sheriff before processing.

All of this a great example of why this company knows that 999 times out of 1000 they will get away with doing what ever they want. Not with me though!
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Old 22.01.2015, 20:29
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Re: Using the Betreibung [debt collection] process from the UK

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I dont mean to hijack this thread but i Need help collecting Money from a Cousin residing in the US. We voluntarily lended (sorry if thats the wrong term?) them Money 3 years ago with the Agreement that they will have to pay it but no date/pressure. The amount is more than 2000chf.


We have contacted them and gave suggestions/Details how to make the payment but until now nothing is Happening and i am getting very annoyed with them showing off their iphones and Lifestyle in facebook. Another Thing is my sister is going through a divorce right now (also in the US) and she has been asking me for financial help. Iam thinking of telling my sister or dad to do something about it, i would appreciate any guidance/links on how to do this. Talking about it didnt work so we are thinking something similar to the process mentioned here.
Verbal agreement or written agreement? You need to find out what the law is regarding this sort of loan in the US. In Australian law (which is similar to UK and US law) it would be considered either a 'gift' or an 'unsecured loan' and unless there is a legal agreement (written) for the money to be paid back by a certain date, the court could either not agree with the debt, or order it to be paid back at a tiny sum like $5 per week.

Your cousin is not responsible for your hardship, or that of your sister. The general advice would be to not 'loan' money if you cannot consider it a gift, and the best starting point would be to place a polite request, in writing, with a 'repayment agreement' for them to sign, and try to get them to agree to repay the debt, in a particular way, by a particular time.

If you do actually get some sort of written agreement and repayment agreement and due date, it writing, signed by the person, then when they do not do it, you could lodge a legal or debt collection process, but by the time you do that, the legal costs may be higher than the original 'loan' or at minimum take a huge chunk of it, and make everyone angry.
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Re: Using the Betreibung [debt collection] process from the UK

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From what I know of the Small Claims procedure, you won't need to provide all the details of the contract. You just tell them how much you claim, and why you think you are owed the money. It is then up to the defendant to dispute the jurisdiction of the court if he wants to, but I can't imagine any UK court finding non-competence in a case where the delivery of the service took place in the UK.
I know that this is Starting with a small claim in a Scottish Court (which I hope to get confirmed by a Swiss court if necessary) but does anyone have any comments over how I have completed the summons? Any advice would be appreciated and my main question is whether or not I should give a reason why I think the court I am using has jurisdiction....

"The Pursuer listed sports tickets for sale on the Defender's website, with the Defender promising the Pursuer the amount of £xxxx.xx if the tickets were successfully sold and then fulfilled in line with the Defender's terms and conditions.

The tickets were sold and fulfilled in line with the Defender's terms and conditions, however the Defender has only paid the Pursuer £xxx.xx of the amount promised. Therefore the total sums due by the Defender to the Pursuers totals £xxxx.xx, which is the sum sued for.

As the item was fulfilled from the Pursuers home in xxxxx, xxxxx Sheriff Court has jurisdiction.

The Defender has been called upon to make payment of the sum due to the Pursuer but refuses or delays to do so. This action is accordingly necessary."
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