Receivables Expiring by Statute of Limitations Cost Businesses Millions

Dec 01, 2010, 06:01 ET from Atradius N.V.

AMSTERDAM, December 1, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Millions of Euros worth of receivables will expire by limitation by the end of the year. This is a reoccurring issue for many businesses which have not yet made their claims in time. The statue of limitation prevents delinquent debt from being pursued indefinitely and defines the time limit for the creditor to file a lawsuit.

"We have seen many cases where creditors had lost the right to their claim just because they were unaware of the pending expiration by limitation. This becomes very critical when we are talking about international debt. The law can differ radically from country to country and many companies simply do not have a legal expert in-house to handle the case," says Raymond van der Loos, Managing Director of Atradius Collections.

In Germany for example, there is a standard three-year limitation on most goods and services. In the United States the period varies from 3 to 10 years depending on type of debt and is additionally different from state to state. Due to the complexity, businesses are often best advised to seek the advice of an external expert. In general there are important steps businesses can take to reduce the risk of receivables expiring:

1. Create clear contracts and at the same time ensure that the customer data is complete and correct. Businesses run the risk of receivables expiring as a result of incorrect customer details.

2. Legally binding arrangements with regards to the ownership of the goods should be set up beforehand. In this way, goods that have been delivered and processed are only legally owned by the customer once payment has been made. Should the customer become insolvent, these goods will not form part of his assets.

3. Have the creditworthiness of customers checked on a regular basis. Based on the achieved rating the credit limit should be given.

4. Ensure that the receivables portfolio is managed effectively and incoming payments are monitored on an ongoing basis.

5. Have an organised payment reminder system in place. Receivables that might be due to expire by limitation by the end of the current year should be flagged.

6. If payment remains outstanding, businesses should immediately enlist the services of a professional debt collection agency in order to recover the receivables quickly, discreetly and effectively. The expertise of a debt collection agency is a decisive factor in collecting the receivable successfully.

When it comes to international debt collections an experienced partner, such as Atradius Collections, can not only assist businesses in cleaning out the books but also knows how to handle the challenges of international law. An additional benefit of employing a collections agency is its high speed of response which shortens the recovery time. The faster a business can react to a non-paying customer, the higher the chance to recovering the trade debt in full and avoiding a financial loss.

About Atradius Collections:

Atradius Collections, a business unit of Atradius Group, provides efficient, quick and flexible solution to recover domestic and international trade debts. With over 400 staff in 20 offices and an extensive network of collections specialists and lawyers worldwide, Atradius Collections serves more than 12,000 customers and handles, on average, 100,000 cases a year. Over 80 years of global credit management industry experience, uniquely positions Atradius Collections as a worldwide leader in business-to-business debt collections. Please visit for more information.

SOURCE Atradius N.V.