Orders for payment in France: how to force your clients to pay you?

Getting clients in France to pay immediately

Obviously, it’s always better to have your clients pay you naturally, without having to resort to legal actions. However, after sending them mail after mail, you might be tired of their unwillingness to act. That’s where Orders for payment come in.
In France, these procedures cost relatively little, and once a judge has ordered your client to pay, the client risks having their personal assets seized. It can definitely be quite helpful!

Start by filing a request to the court

Doing this is quite simple: you don’t even need a lawyer for it. All you need to do is to make sure that, on the document, there’s your identity (name, nationality, job, etc.), the identity of your client, the precise amount your client owes you and its breakdown, as well as proof that your client owes you money (a bill, for example).

All that’s left is to file the request to the correct court:

  • If your client is a trader, you have to file it to the Trade Court
  • If your client isn’t a trader or the transaction was made outside of their activity, there are two situations: if the amount is less than 10 000€, it’s the Lower Court, if it’s more than 10 000€, then it’s the High Court

 The court then makes a decision

If the court judges your request to be justified, the court will submit an Order for payment. It’s now up to you to send this order to your client with a bailiff. It’s then, and only then that your client first learns of this entire procedure.

If the court denies your request, then you’ve got no choice other than trying to sue your client.

Finally, the client has to pay you

Once the client has received the order, they can try to file an opposition if they disagree with the order. In this case, both you and your client will be summoned by the court, and the court will make the final verdict.
You should note that you still don’t need a lawyer for this phase, unless it’s the High Court that’s dealing with this case!

However, if your client still hasn’t paid you in this month, and hasn’t filed an opposition, then you’ve got another month to ask the court to seize the belongings of your client if necessary.