Payers are less and less bothered by bailiffs, because SME´s no longer hire them. For entrepreneurs, the ever increasing court costs no longer outweigh the collection of small unpaid invoices. This brings bailiffs back into trouble.
The Royal Professional Association of Bailiffs is now ringing the emergency bell. In the sector, turnover is under pressure and the number of bailiffs is rapidly decreasing. “Five years ago there were still 962 bailiffs registered with us. That’s 796 now “, says chairman Wilbert van de Donk. “We keep track of the total turnover since 2016 and it is also falling fast”.
The Law on court fees in civil cases from 2011, which had to simplify the complex system of court fees, is mentioned as one of the most important causes. The government, however, provided the condition that everyone should continue to have access to the courts and the costs of justice should be paid out of the court fees.
The law does not do what it should do, according to bailiffs, lawyers and also the Council for the Judiciary. The court fees for amounts between € 500 and € 5000 have risen so rapidly that, especially for small and medium-sized businesses, the risk of being charged to the court to pay an invoice is far too great. For a claim of € 500, € 470 must be paid for court fees.
“Then there are also the costs of summoning cases,” says Hans Groenewegen, chairman of the association of debtors interests. “In total, litigation costs can easily rise to € 700. Then you do not know if you win the case and if you win or you get the money. If the debtor is unable to pay, then you still have nothing and you can not recover the litigation costs. ”
“Small businesses find the costs much too high and the risk is too large to claim unpaid bills up to € 1,000,” confirms Rob Wolthuis, policy officer of SME in the Netherlands. “This is a big problem because it could stimulate defaults.” The number of summons has dropped by 40% since 2011. Last year the decline was even 17%.
SME in the Netherlands, bailiffs and lawyers want the court fees to be brought back to € 117 for cases up to € 5000, as for the new law. They are supported in this by the Council for the Judiciary. “An average process costs only € 20, but the problem is that the entire case law has to be paid out of the court fees”, says Van de Donk.
Due to the pressure on the sector, the profession of bailiff has changed enormously, Groenewegen admits. “We almost only do an amicable collection, so in fact we are debt mediators. We contact the debtor and enter into consultation. You are no longer going to sue. ”
IncassoVisie (Debt Collection Vision) has stepped into the gap that has hit the high court fees in the bailiff sector. IncassoVisie started the Free Court Bailiff from her office in Deventer a year ago. “We try to estimate in advance how promising a business is,” explains Marc van der Vegte from IncassoVisie. “We take stock of the matter free of charge. If we think the case is promising, we choose from our network of bailiffs the one that we think is most likely to have a chance at that case. ”
Free-of-charge Bailiff runs for the litigation costs. Van der Vegte: “Only when the case is won, the creditor pays a pre-agreed percentage of the total claim. This way we take away the cost risk. So we mainly have small and medium-sized businesses as clients, but also increasingly larger companies and even private individuals who have borrowed money from family or friends. “Bailiffs’ interests are aware of the new initiative. Just like the professional organization, the association insists that the legal proceedings must remain accessible to everyone at all costs. Groenewegen: “That is a matter of principle”.
Source: De Telegraaf, Gert van Harskamp, 06 feb. 2018 in FINANCIEEL / DFT
Also: this video, De Telegraaf, 08 feb 2018.