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-   -   Contract Breach: Not Paid by For Work from Other Country (https://www.englishforum.ch/employment/165728-contract-breach-not-paid-work-other-country.html)

alexandros 05.01.2013 04:30

Contract Breach: Not Paid by For Work from Other Country
 
I was not paid for few last months of remote work for Switzerland based company. I had only email agreement (open ended) with the employer (president/owner of the company). It's already almost 3 years since I didn't get any response from the owner/company. But the agreement we had states that I will be paid interest on any amount unpaid. And company still uses/sells work that I did (desktop program with some further modifications).

The reason the agreement was terminated by me because employer didn't have money to pay at that time (and was offering lower payment - new agreement to work other month with fine if I don't complete it in time - so I rejected new offer and with this terminated original contract (making employer unhappy).

Should I be worried that the money+interest company/owner still owes to me can not be claimed anymore? I'm afraid he doesn't want to pay me at all/never so not answering.

Can someone advise what options do I have here.

NotAllThere 05.01.2013 09:42

Re: Contract Breach: Not Paid by For Work from Other Country
 
You need to go through the debt recovery procedures of Switzerland. Is it really three years since you had contact with the company?

Sbrinz 05.01.2013 10:46

Re: Contract Breach: Not Paid by For Work from Other Country
 
The Swiss debt recovery system is slow, and there are regulations, many.

You need to give us the name of the town where your debtor lives, and we can give you the name and address of the local Swiss agency. www.local.ch

You will need to provide proof of your claim: the contract, copies of bank transfers made etc.

There are time limits for a claim, and you will have to pay a fee before they start the process, but the fee you pay is claimed together with the debt.

alexandros 05.01.2013 22:26

Re: Contract Breach: Not Paid by For Work from Other Country
 
NotAllThere,

yes, it is almost 3 years, I contacted debtor by email (cc'ing company accountant) few times and didn't get reply on offers to start paying debt in parts at least, if the company still has difficult financial situation.

Sbrinz,

Company's main office is in Riehen (Basel).

I have only electronic correspondence (no paper): emails and that web spreadsheet shared by debtor with me where he entered all the calculations amounts with interest that he owes and new agreement conditions he was offering which I rejected to accept. Do you think this could be enough?
I don't know Swiss laws but I've read somewhere that if I don't get money in 3 years I can loose them.

I know in some countries even verbal contracts are enforceable (California), so I hope there is something for electronic communication/agreements too in Europe.
In my country such agreements that is not on paper with signs is thrash.

alexandros 05.01.2013 22:34

Re: Contract Breach: Not Paid by For Work from Other Country
 
I've found this collection agency
https://secure.creditreform.ch/index.php?id=60&L=1

and if I translate correctly they do what I need:

"the debt collection agency contacts the debtor instructing him to pay within a certain time limit, or challenge the debt. If the customer still doesn’t pay the debt or bill, doesn’t challenge the debt and nothing else is agreed, the debt collection agency can proceed with legal actions."

I think it could be just enough someone to contract that person and explain that hiding is not good.

Jim2007 06.01.2013 00:11

Re: Contract Breach: Not Paid by For Work from Other Country
 
If the company was in financial difficulty three years ago, what makes you think it has the money to pay you now?

Before you go paying debt collection fees, I'd suggest you make sure you are going to get something out of it.

Wallabies 06.01.2013 00:42

Re: Contract Breach: Not Paid by For Work from Other Country
 
This is the sort of thing you should be chasing 2-3 months after non payment not 3 years. Your chances are 2 - bucklies and none at this stage I would think

biff 06.01.2013 01:04

Re: Contract Breach: Not Paid by For Work from Other Country
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Jim2007 (Post 1759520)

Before you go paying debt collection fees, I'd suggest you make sure you are going to get something out of it.

Any suggestions on how the OP could do that?

biff 06.01.2013 01:05

Re: Contract Breach: Not Paid by For Work from Other Country
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wallabies (Post 1759534)
This is the sort of thing you should be chasing 2-3 months after non payment not 3 years. Your chances are 2 - bucklies and none at this stage I would think

Possibly - but it would be interesting to know if there is a legal time limit on when claims can be lodged.

alexandros 06.01.2013 01:24

Re: Contract Breach: Not Paid by For Work from Other Country
 
Jim2007

I hoped company to recover, they pay their current key employees (~10) without problems and sell software and content on subscription basis and have possibility to extend their products choice (e.g. started to offer mobile apps / cloud services).

How do I make sure I'm going to get something out of it? Or you mean to make sure company has some money? For sure it has. It could be only ignorance to pay to the foreign contractors because I rejected to work for them for free under new agreement conditions they offered until company's financial problems were resolved.

Wallabies

I tried to approach debtor 3 months after non payment, but got only response on personal email once (as we were friends before) but ignorance of debt payment emails after it.
In one of last emails I got from the debtor before termination he said:
"Don't worry about the money. You will receive all due payments as soon as we get a chance to earn nice profits..." - Apr'10.

And I can wait for more time if needed. But I hear nothing from him.

I just don't know if in situation like this when debtor owns money for services contractor did without acknowledging to the creditor and admitting debt in paper signed form, for how long I can wait for payout reply?

alexandros 06.01.2013 01:42

Re: Contract Breach: Not Paid by For Work from Other Country
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by biff (Post 1759543)
Possibly - but it would be interesting to know if there is a legal time limit on when claims can be lodged.

After googling "debt limitation period switzerland" I've found a document:

As a general rule, the limitation period for civil law claims is ten years; if such claims concern periodic payments or certain types of services, they will be time-barred after five years.

So maybe it is not 3 but 5 years in Switzerland

Note in England it is 6 years:
http://www.payplan.com/debt-library/...n-act-1980.php

biff 06.01.2013 08:29

Re: Contract Breach: Not Paid by For Work from Other Country
 
Is it necessary to go through a debt collector in Switzerland? I Know there is a system where unpaid debts are passed on to the stadt ( at least in Basel) where, if they are not paid, plus a fine, one is threatened with court/jail action. So, sould it be possible for the OP to have access to this system as well, or does the creditor have to be Swiss based? Otr only certain types of businesses?

Alternatively, woudl the OP's next step be to use a debt collector, or to send a registered letter, as proof of the debtor reciving the payment demand. Would that be followed up with a letter from a lawyer ( in Switzerland) theatening court action?

Sbrinz 06.01.2013 09:48

Re: Contract Breach: Not Paid by For Work from Other Country
 
Is the debt from a company or an individual?

Where is the exact address?

How much is the debt?

When did the debt occur?

Have any repayments been made to the debt?

To make a claim in the Swiss court system, you need to answer all those questions. Then you pay a fee to the court (Betreibungsamt) Then they will take action against the company or the individual.

Commercial debt collection agencies are useless for you, they have no legal means of enforcement.

Here are the addresses of the Swiss government debt collection agencies, "Betreibungsamt" in and near Basel,
http://yellow.local.ch/en/q?what=Bet...on%29&rid=DQJd

alexandros 07.01.2013 06:05

Re: Contract Breach: Not Paid by For Work from Other Country
 
biff,

You have asked good questions. I'm sure there is some easy system for swiss people. But not sure there is something for foreign contractor.

Quote:

Originally Posted by biff (Post 1759592)
Alternatively, woudl the OP's next step be to use a debt collector, or to send a registered letter, as proof of the debtor reciving the payment demand. Would that be followed up with a letter from a lawyer ( in Switzerland) theatening court action?

I was thinking about sending registered letter but it can be ignored the same way as my emails are ignored. But if this can somehow help - this is the easiest I can do.

Note I don't even have visa to enter EU and I don't know German. So I would like to find someone representing me for adequate fees of course.


Sbrinz

I can answer all the questions in details but I don't want this information to be visible publicly.

So to anser few of them:
- The debtor is probably the company but as he is the owner/president of that company it can be considered individual responsibility too I think. He could take money from the company's bank account and spend them for any personal needs. It is small company (10-20 employees). Note I was in good friendship with the debtor. He visited and slept in my home, eat my food, was brining other company employees / partners for meetings few times.
- The total amount of debt is solid for individual and growing including interest agreed to be accumulated on unpaid amounts (monthly).
- The debt occurred after debtor rejected to pay on request for the services and it coincided with the fact that debtor paid some unexpected taxes as he said and he doesn't have enough money (2.5 years ago).
- There were no payments after this as he ignored all emails in which I tried to bring up debt problem.

A court claiming procedure is probably standard, but again will not be able to travel to Switzerland, and I believe there is no chance to do it somehow remotely without third-party. Also for court I may need some papers? But I have only emails.

Quote:

Commercial debt collection agencies are useless for you, they have no legal means of enforcement.
Good to know, why do they exist then? I would use any means which will work, provided debtor will pay for them :). Also I don't want to pay any fees upfront as there is no guaranties they will do their work and I could fees back from debtor.

Thanks for providing the list of government debt collection agencies. I would be more confident to reach them by email, there are only phones on the site. What can I do by phone? Not sure they even will speak English.

jonbvn 10.01.2013 16:29

Re: Contract Breach: Not Paid by For Work from Other Country
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by alexandros (Post 1760272)

Also I don't want to pay any fees upfront as there is no guaranties they will do their work and I could fees back from debtor.

In Switzerland, you always have to pay some fees upfront.:cool:

alexandros 10.01.2013 22:32

Re: Contract Breach: Not Paid by For Work from Other Country
 
How much are those fees? Any numbers? Are they fixed or %?

Sbrinz 11.01.2013 06:49

Re: Contract Breach: Not Paid by For Work from Other Country
 
You STILL have not answered the questions! HOW do you expect me to help you when you won't give me information?

I think you have to make a claim within 12 months, and you need to have a contract or something on paper to prove you worked for him.

I will give you a website for central Switzerland, showing the first expenses, it is a portion of the total debt,

http://www.betreibungsaemter-zentral...hp?language=DE

alexandros 11.01.2013 09:37

Re: Contract Breach: Not Paid by For Work from Other Country
 
Sbrinz

Sorry, I tried to answer all the questions, which did I miss?
From the page you provided I don't quite understand what kind of fees are these for. In my case paying 100$ of 10k-100k$ (which is < 1%) is totally acceptable.
Again I don't have anything on paper, only emails (which I can print of course).
What should be my next steps? Should I have some representative in Switzerland?

alexandros 28.11.2015 02:41

Re: Contract Breach: Not Paid by For Work from Other Country
 
Hi, I want to resurrect this thread again. Maybe there are some fresh thoughts on this. But I have just more information: read the law:
https://www.admin.ch/opc/en/classifi...010000/220.pdf
Art 127. says:

Art. 127
All claims become time-barred after ten years unless otherwise provided by federal civil law.
Art. 128
The following become time barred after five years:
1. claims for agricultural and commercial rent and other rent, interest on capital and all other periodic payments;
2. claims in connection with delivery of foodstuffs, payments for board and lodging and hotel expenses;
3.33 claims in connection with work carried out by tradesmen and craftsmen, purchases of retail goods, medical treatment, professional services provided by advocates, solicitors, legal representatives and notaries, and work performed by employees for their employers.

So unless the contractor is considered to be employee the the limitation is 10 years. And I still haven't retrieved my money from the company. But currently we are on the phase that I got their objection to Payment Summons which sent by Debt Collection Office on your Debt Enforcement Request, and there is no upfront fees. They can be paid later. But it is advised to have some representative in Switzerland (swiss address). It could be your friend or a lawyer.

All contracts not only on papers are valid (including in emails or oral).
But you have to have a proof of your contract.

The question is how long the process in court can be?
How much time would a average lawyer spend on it (hours)? Is flat rate practiced or it is always per hour rate?
Lawyers are really expensive so I want just some estimates.
Are the lawyer's fee recovered from the company if I win the case?

My problem now that company waited for 5 years and now says I had an employment contract with them (because I claimed vacations which was agreed initially, though I didn't even took them and claimed compensation) and refuses to pay interest (10%) which they say is very high for them. But as appeared the default interest that is used by Debt Collection Office and suggested by law is not low too - 5% - and it has to be paid.
I worked only remotely and have never visited Switzerland and they didn't pay any taxes or contributions for me.

Any thoughts/help on this is highly appreciated.

fatmanfilms 28.11.2015 07:51

Re: Contract Breach: Not Paid by For Work from Other Country
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by alexandros (Post 2494613)
Hi, I want to resurrect this thread again. Maybe there are some fresh thoughts on this. But I have just more information: read the law:
https://www.admin.ch/opc/en/classifi...010000/220.pdf
Art 127. says:

Art. 127
All claims become time-barred after ten years unless otherwise provided by federal civil law.
Art. 128
The following become time barred after five years:
1. claims for agricultural and commercial rent and other rent, interest on capital and all other periodic payments;
2. claims in connection with delivery of foodstuffs, payments for board and lodging and hotel expenses;
3.33 claims in connection with work carried out by tradesmen and craftsmen, purchases of retail goods, medical treatment, professional services provided by advocates, solicitors, legal representatives and notaries, and work performed by employees for their employers.

So unless the contractor is considered to be employee the the limitation is 10 years. And I still haven't retrieved my money from the company. But currently we are on the phase that I got their objection to Payment Summons which sent by Debt Collection Office on your Debt Enforcement Request, and there is no upfront fees. They can be paid later. But it is advised to have some representative in Switzerland (swiss address). It could be your friend or a lawyer.

All contracts not only on papers are valid (including in emails or oral).
But you have to have a proof of your contract.

The question is how long the process in court can be?
How much time would a average lawyer spend on it (hours)? Is flat rate practiced or it is always per hour rate?
Lawyers are really expensive so I want just some estimates.
Are the lawyer's fee recovered from the company if I win the case?

My problem now that company waited for 5 years and now says I had an employment contract with them (because I claimed vacations which was agreed initially, though I didn't even took them and claimed compensation) and refuses to pay interest (10%) which they say is very high for them. But as appeared the default interest that is used by Debt Collection Office and suggested by law is not low too - 5% - and it has to be paid.
I worked only remotely and have never visited Switzerland and they didn't pay any taxes or contributions for me.

Any thoughts/help on this is highly appreciated.

OK so after 2 years you pick up where you left off :D

Swiss lawyers don't do flat rate, they charge you by the hour, every hour, for every phone call even asking how much it's going to cost.

Without knowing what response the other party will give, you can't put a time limit.

Swiss courts like compromise, don't expect to get all your costs.

If the company has no money, you won't get a cent.


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