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International trade with Greece - how to protect your business

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As Greece’s debt crisis continues, the Government Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has released updated advice which will concern those currently trading or doing business with the country. The message – seek legal advice as soon as possible.

Although Greek banks have since reopened, capital controls are still in place which would in turn affect companies expecting payments on contracts or deliveries. The government has stated that companies should seek expert legal advice in the event companies cannot deliver on agreed terms.

Specialist international debt collection solicitor at Stephensons, Matthew Halton, has summarised the government’s advice:

  • Due to the economic difficulties, Greek businesses may not be able to meet payment or delivery deadlines on the dates specified or within promised time frames. If you are in doubt, or at all worried, speak to the business directly. It could be nothing, or it could be a more serious issue.
  • If you are concerned about anything, contact the businesses or organisation direct and make sure they are still able to carry out any arrangements you have made by contract with them.
  • It’s vital that you check all terms of contracts and be aware with what terms have been agreed regarding payment. If you then have to negotiate any changes to a contract which is already in place, ensure all changes have been agreed in writing.
  • If you are currently finalising a deal with a Greek organisation, you should seek legal advice and ensure all legal and financial issues (if any) are ironed out before you finalise any contract.
  • If any companies within your supply chain are based in Greece and they cannot supply the goods/services agreed, speak to your trade association and seek specialist legal advice as soon as possible.

If companies in Greece are no longer able to pay for goods or services supplied, then providing they have the right contractual terms, UK creditors can issue recovery proceedings in the UK instead of starting recovery proceedings in Greece. This means that with the correct legal advice, UK companies can collect debts from Greek companies by suing them in the UK

Specialist international debt collection solicitor at Stephensons and EuroCollectNet representative, Matthew Halton, offers some advice on trading with individuals and organisations in Greece.

"If you are thinking about trading with an individual or company in Greece the recent "Brussels 1 Regulation" (EU Regulation 2015 of 12 December 2012) should make you think about where your debt recovery action should start and where you would be most comfortable with.

This is because all judgments dated after 10 January 2015 are immediately enforceable in all other EU countries. So with the right contractual terms you can start a recovery action in the country of your choice. So if you are happy with the English Courts you should be thinking about including a jurisdiction clause in your next transaction to avoid having to issue in Greece where court cases can take years, as they can do in Italy for example."

If you have a foreign debtor who won’t pay, it’s vital that you contact an expert international debt recovery solicitor as soon as possible to reduce any losses to your company.

Due to the expansion of our debt recovery team, we now have access to over 1,000 specialised debt recovery lawyers across the globe. Matthew Halton joins the Stephensons team as the sole English representative of EuroCollectNet - an association of European law firms based in almost every country in Europe. This appointment of Matthew Halton to our already highly specialised debt recovery team means we can offer the best chance of making a swift recovery.

For more information or to speak with an expert solicitor about international debt recovery, contact Stephensons today on 01616 966 229