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Is there a time frame to collect an invoice? I have a client I need to collect a bill from. They are always making excuses. Do I have a time frame to collect the bill? Does the debt have a prescription?

  • welcome to SE. By prescription, do you mean a time limit or deadline after which you cannot collect the debt? – perennial_noob May 26 at 6:51
  • What were the payment terms on the original invoice? You told them what the interest rate on overdue invoices was, right? – Rupert Morrish May 26 at 23:55
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You don't say which country. In many countries, there is a statute of limitations, usually around six years. That means you can't make them pay after six years.

Before six years, there are lots of things that you can do legally. There was one case in the UK where a major bank didn't pay a bill, and this ended up with bailliffs turning up at a branch, going to cashier with their paperwork, and demanding the money. And getting the money.

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    Of course finding cash (or other very-liquid assets) available to seize at a bank's premises is a lot more likely than for many other types of debtor. – Henning Makholm May 26 at 11:55
  • Similar story from the USA: abcnews.go.com/Business/… – Ben Voigt May 27 at 0:17
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This is dependent on several important factors.

The laws of the country that govern the transaction. They will define some of the time limits and they will define the workings of the legal system you can use. They will also have laws regarding the use of 3rd party collection agencies, and the methods they can use to force or encourage the debtor to pay.

The other item of importance is the contractual agreement between the parties. That contract has to work withing the laws, but can define time frames, deadlines, penalties, and the legal options. Both sides are bound to follow the terms of the contract. The presence of the contract terms can also be useful in legal proceedings.

It can also depend on the reason for the debt. That will govern if collateral can be seized, or if a lien can be placed on a property. But this should also be addressed in the contract.

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