These guidelines have been prepared to provide an overview of how open/unpaid international claims in Autria against companies, but also private individuals/consumers, can be efficiently and effectively enforced.
The following criteria must be generally observed
Statute of limitations for claims in Austria
The statute of limitations in Austria, which applies to all claims arising from deliveries of goods, services, outstanding repayment installments/annuities of bank loans, regular payments, of rents or leasing installments, etc., and thus from general business transactions with companies or also private persons/consumers, amounts to 3 years .
There is also a longer statute of limitations of 30 years , although this mainly relates to the basic claim from loans/credits (excluding the repayment installments to be paid) as well as claims determined by a court or otherwise also out-of-court claims expressly acknowledged by the debtor.
The limitation period does not begin with the date and receipt of the invoice taking into account any payment period of e.g. usual "30 days net without deduction", but already with the objective possibility of the preparation and dispatch of the invoice!
Therefore, if the invoice has been issued and sent late (e.g. due to overloading of the responsible department or other internal problems), the statute of limitations shall nevertheless begin to run on the day of this objective possibility of issuing the invoice and thus, at most, the full three years shall no longer be available.
According to the case law of the Supreme Court in Austria, in simple business transactions - as is usually the case for deliveries of goods and services - a 14-day period for preparing and sending the invoice is to be assumed.
Only in the case of more complicated transactions (e.g. partial or final invoices for construction projects) may a longer period apply.
In any case, it is advisable to issue and send the invoice as early as possible and to send reminders immediately after the respective subjective due date (expiry of the payment period agreed with the customer) and, after three reminders at the latest, to hand it over to a professional debt collection network (Sekundi) for handover and further collection by their local collection partner and, if necessary, also for subsequent legal enforcement. (This alone is due to the fact that the debtor's creditworthiness may deteriorate or even become insolvent before the expiry of the limitation period if the debtor waits any longer, and the claim is then lost for good).
Out-of-court debt collection in Austria
After an international case has been handed over to the debt collection network (Sekundi), the local debt collection partner in Austria commissioned by it will immediately start the dunning process and in between will also try by telephone to reach the debtor and to induce him to make payment (if necessary also down payment or partial payment or to apply for an installment agreement).
If this should not be successful, the further procedure of a judicial assertion of the possible further execution against the debtor is discussed in consultation and agreement with the international customer. Here, the Austrian collection partner works seamlessly with the law firm that is also organizationally linked to it, which guarantees a rapid response and cost-effective but efficient enforcement of the claim.
Judicial debt collection including execution/enforcement
For claims up to EUR 75,000.00, the dunning (action) procedure applies, i.e. the claim is asserted against the debtor in court in a simplified manner by means of a dunning action and an order for payment is issued by the court. The debtor has the possibility to file an objection against the action within 4 weeks, otherwise the order for payment becomes legally binding and can be enforced by means of execution. In the event of an objection, ordinary proceedings are initiated and a judge must then rule on the debtor's objections to the claim.
If the order for payment (or judgment) becomes final and enforceable, execution on the debtor's salary (if the debtor is dependent) and execution on the debtor's movable property or goods will be initiated, or, if the debtor knows that he owns real estate, execution on the related real estate (apartments, land, etc.) will also be initiated.
In the case of companies, a bankruptcy petition can often be successfully threatened, which in many cases leads to the debtor paying after all, as he will still try to avert insolvency by paying the claim.
In Austria, there is both a central register of residents for the whole of Austria, into which debt collection agencies and law firms can inspect at any time for a small fee and determine whether the debtor is actually registered and resident at a particular address.
Furthermore, for Austria there is also the specialty that lawyers can inspect the central execution register of all Austrian courts and thereby determine whether, for example, a lawsuit against the debtor (possibly because of too many executions already pending against him) pays off at all or whether the debtor is not already insolvent, thus saving the client/creditor considerable, otherwise incurred - unnecessary - costs for court fees and attorney's fees.
However, such inspection is permissible only in connection with a specific debt collection order assigned to the collection agency/lawyer and not for the mere purpose of determining the creditworthiness of a prospective customer/debtor.
Finally, there is one more special feature in Austria:
With the existence of a judicial title (domestic or foreign payment order/dunning notice), a (land register) query can be made throughout Austria (!) regarding any land or real estate owned by the debtor, in which all possible real estate is listed and can then subsequently be realized by forced sale or secured by a forced lien for the creditor.
Insolvency of the debtor in Austria
If a debtor is already insolvent and insolvency proceedings have already been instituted against him in court, this will appear in a digital insolvency file accessible to debt collection agencies and law firms from the day the proceedings are opened, both with regard to corporate and personal insolvencies.
Thus, by handing over the matter to the collection agency, it can be quickly clarified whether further dunning and legal action against the debtor (with the exception of the possible filing of the claim in insolvency proceedings) is pointless, thus saving unnecessary further costs.
This is again another advantage of debt collection by a professional debt collection network (Sekundi) or the professional local debt collection partner in close connection with its lawyer.
Execution/foreclosure of foreign judicial titles:
Existing foreign court titles may also be subject to execution/compulsory enforcement in Austria.
The prerequisite for this is that a confirmation as "European Enforcement Order" is available from the foreign court or such is provided by the client, which can be handed over to the collection network (Sekundi) or its local collection partner for further collection of the claim. Back to list