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How long, legally, does one have, to pay an invoice? I have done extensive research on this, and there are too many contradictions on the Internet and a lot of it seems, to me, to be hearsay. I cannot find a local source of reliable information, and I cannot afford to pay a lawyer to find out.

I have read that, in New South Wales, Australia, one has 30 days to make full payment, after which they are then overdue if the invoice has not yet been paid in full. However, friends and co-workers have also informed me that it is 21 days, while others have stated that the time you have to pay just depends on the Date-Due on the invoice, which is left to the sole discretion of the person requesting payment.

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An invoice is due when the invoice says it is due - usually as soon as you receive it. What there may be is restrictions on how soon a company can start to take actions to enforce payment. –  DJClayworth Nov 14 '12 at 17:56
    
Thank you, that helped narrow it down a lot. I'm going to check out our collections company's websites and see if they have any info about taking further actions. –  Arrow Nov 14 '12 at 19:41

2 Answers 2

If there is a statutory imposed payment time I am not aware of it.

The general approach is specify a payment date within a reasonable time. You cannot impose terms of contract without an agreement, a contract is a legally binding agreement. Therefore you cannot legally impose a payment date without agreement. This does not mean, in any way, that you are not owed a debt as the agreement was payment for goods/services.

If you have an outstanding debt which has not been paid, given reasonable notice, your first step should be a letter of demand. If this does not work your next step would be to start proceedings in court, if the debt is under $10,000 these would be started in the small claims division of the local court. While it is advisable to seek legal advice this might not be worth the debt owed, in which case you can file your own proceedings. Mediation is also an option open to you.

Information on the small claims division of the local court: http://www.lawassist.lawaccess.nsw.gov.au/lawassist/lawassist_debt_small_claims_home.html

The forms required for a claim: http://www.lawassist.lawaccess.nsw.gov.au/lawassist/lawassist_debt_small_claims_home/lawassist_forms.html

Further information for when you are owed money: http://www.lawassist.lawaccess.nsw.gov.au/lawassist/lawassist_debt_small_claims_home/lawassist_does_someone_owe_you_money_home.html

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The reason for varied payment periods is that the period is not set by legislation, but by contract i.e. mutual agreement.

If you didn't negotiate that particular term (the payment period) prior to entering into the contract, then the seller can and usually does set the term on the invoice and this becomes part of the terms of the contract. If the invoice states 7 days, then you have 7 days. If it states 30 days then you have 30 days, and so on.

If you don't pay within the time allowed you default on the debt, in which case the seller can sue and you will receive a Court summons which also has a response period stated on it. If you fail to respond to the summons, the seller can get a summary judgment from the Court.

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@GreaseMoney: Not always. Quite a few countries have rules that require adequate notification to be given. For example in UK if I recollect, there is a period of 10 days required by law from the time an invoice is notified to the time its due for payment. This does not mean one cannot pay before due date. It means that within 10 days it cannot be treated as default. –  Dheer Nov 11 '13 at 7:58

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